Tuesday, October 5, 2010

WEG Redux: Dressage

Sorry, this post might be a bit flat, but I'm still simply exhausted from trying to get back on track since getting back from Kentucky. I'm quickly realizing that this quarter is going to be INSANE, academically and extracurricularly, and so am scrambling to not fall behind before the ball gets rolling too quickly.

(Me, Pa, and Bruce!!)

Anyway. Back to WEG! I've always had this thought that the American team is good in any one phase, it's the dressage. We were certainly well-placed after that phase at the '08 Olympics, and whenever American pairs go to big international events like Burghley or Badminton, they always seem to start brightly and then go downhill from there. I might be totally in left field with that understanding of our team's strengths, but there you are! SO, it was a bit shocking to watch the first two days of the WEG eventing and watch our riders get so utterly outclassed, over and over again, by the Europeans. The European horses were more relaxed and adjustable, and the European riders had better showmanship and poise. There was just no comparison.

(Why William Fox Pitt is a badass - look at that perfect seat as his horse flows beneath him)

I think this was a place where the "home field advantage" actually became a disadvantage: not only because the deafening cheering that happened every time a US horse entered the ring set off more than a few of our horses (namely Neville Bardos, who almost reared right before he was supposed to enter the ring when the crowd got particularly loud and excited), but also (I imagine) the pressure on our riders to produce must have been 10 times more crushing than it was on most of the other countries' riders.

(Neville Bardos reacting to the wild American fans)

(Becky was a happy exception to my statement above - their test was soo lovely)

On Friday night we got to stick around for the Grand Prix Freestyle, which was INCREDIBLE, and a huge change from the eventing dressage, to say the least! My mom put it best when she described watching eventing dressage as waiting to see who will be able to keep a lid on it, whereas watching pure dressage is getting the privilege of seeing who will be able to really show off. These dressage horses were really in their element in the packed stadium, soaking up the wild cheering and stomping of 25,000 passionate fans. I've only ever been around event horse types in my life, so I was honestly shocked to see horses that so obviously loved the crowds like these ones did. And what showmanship!!

(Totilas = machine)

(We were in the Swiss cheering section - awesome!!)

(Ma and Pa enjoying the freestyle!)

1 comment:

Hurricanes12 said...

how beautiful is totilas, edward gal is magic!

lucky, lucky you being there to see that test :)

& you may have a point there. the american riders must have been nervous as hell with all the pressure to perform!

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