As always, Olympia was fantastic. The crowds on Dressage Freestyle day were impressive which certainly confirms the growth in the discipline's popularity. Since I've only ever ridden to Elementary and the only GP - like movements (though a fair selection!) I experienced was on young jumping stallions when hacking them out behind mares I don't really feel like I should be appraising any performances at the Grand Prix level.
So here it is a light hearted view on my Olympia evening.
The atmosphere proved too much for quite a few horses, including Emile Faurie and a very impressive looking Elmegardens Marquis.
Photo: Emile Faurie & Elmegardens Marquis. I didn't take any "proper" photos so I played a little with the ones I snapped on my phone ;)
This horse seemed all muscle power with control panel broken, the arena was definitely way too intimidating for him and Emile resigned soon after commencing the test. I don't think I would ever contemplate sitting on Elmegardens Marquis!
Every test was different and the music adds so much emotional content to the whole performance that you were pretty much bound to prefer the combinations which music took your fancy.
I loved Anna's choice which included bits and pieces from Dirty Dancing (the absolute classic!) and although handsome MK looked a little distracted by the surroundings it was such a vibrant, fun test to watch, one of my definite favorites of the night. I'm sure Anna's final centre line to the "now, I have the time of my life" tunes will have stayed with many spectators long after the music stopped :)
Photo: Anna Ross Davies and Pegasus MK
Rintje V ridden by Hans Meganck was quite a revelation among the crowd - being a Fresian with his feathers left flying he certainly stood out. I've read a lot of critical opinions on his music but I thought it really suited him and somehow had a bit of a comic feel to it. If I was very critical I would say there could have been more flow and better changes in between the pieces but overall the effect was interesting and kept you watching :) Here is the video of the same freestyle but not from Olympia: http://www.topiberian.com/en/video-gallery?task=videodirectlink&id=985
Another test I really liked was the freestyle of Amy Stovold and Macbrian (video of the freestyle at another show)I have never seen this pair perform before and it was definitely the case of "please don't stop the music" :))
And then there was Mikaela Lindh on Skovlunds Mas Guapo who simply danced so gracefully you could just sit and stare!
Charismatic Rubel 13 ridden by Fanny Verliefden to the kind of compilation that takes you places was one more example of how well music goes with horses. I even looked his breeding up as he reminded me of my very first horse. Turns out Rubel is by Rubinstein I who certainly did not have anything to do with my Trakehner stallion ;)
Edward Gal's mare Sisther de Jeu looked as though she moved on air. I am not personally a great fan of Dutch style of training/riding/seat but she is poetry in motion. I especially loved the passage.
Mr. President's tempi changes were so effortless that if he was the only horse you ever saw performing them you would think you could just go back to the yard and try it yourself. He looked happy, relaxed, swinging, having fun. I watched him and Stephanie Croxford winning Dressage Horse of The Year here three years ago and he certainly still has the X-factor!
Richard Davison and Hiscox Artemis: beautiful, serene almost music and they both impressed me with the relaxation and suppleness. Peaceful was the word I would put to it. He made it look easy too which is, at least to me, what's the most difficult in Dressage.
Mistral Hojris looked unnerved and strong. It must have taken a grand skill for Laura to win the Grand Prix as he seemed really tense on Freestyle night. Shame for them but I guess it proves what an amazing job she does to curb his tension when you can't spot it!
The winner, Adelinde Corelissen rode pretty much a flawless test on Jerich Parzival. Leggy and elegant Parzival reminds me of a ballet dancer. The pair's music didn't stay with me at all but his trot half-passes and canter pirouettes certainly had!
Louis D'or is almost pony look-a-like and adorable. Henriette Andersen rode a jolly test and was a firm crowd favorite judging by the prolonged clapping :)
And finally Winyamaro - the horse I would take home with me given half the chance. Love the cheeky, show-jumper look to him, the white face (which I adore since I fell in love with Weihaiwej fifteen years ago), the canter work. This is not Olympia footage but it's the same Freestyle. The tempi sequence was fab to watch.