It was another breezy, hot and humid day in Tryon North Carolina. There were rumors flying: the eventing cross country is going to be made shorter due to the heat and humidity, the Dressage Freestyle on Sunday will be cancelled due to the arrival of Florence’s left over wind and rain or…the Freestyle will be held tomorrow before the Florence’s final furor gets here. I have consulted the oracles and cannot confirm any of these rumors. But I will say that a Freestyle in driving rain and a gale blowing is not ideal. But enough of that …now for some of the great rides.
The Competition for the Individual Medals
Friday was the Grand Prix Special and the Individual Medal competition. The first rider I watched was Irish rider Judy Reynolds riding Vancouver K. I had heard from a friend that she was a rider worth seeing. I’m glad I listened to her as it was a lovely ride to watch.
And….how nice to see the green tail coat and hat and…best of all….Vancouver K has a shamrock on his bum!! Maybe that brought some luck and a good score of 73.982
The Grand Prix Special is the test ridden by the top 30 riders from the Grand Prix team competition which finished yesterday.
The afternoon brought the riders who had the highest scores the day before in the Grand Prix. So I had the joy of watching Carl Hester and Edward Gal again.
The Serious Medal Hunters
Among the final riders were the women who were the serious medal hunters; Laura Graves, Charlotte Dujardin and the incomparable Isabell Werth. Laura was the first to go.
There could be no mistakes. A mistake would cost a medal position. Laura rode to win! When her score of 81.717 went up at the end of her ride the home crowd cheered . Would it be enough for the gold?
Laura was followed by Sönke Rothenberger. He was going to throw down a challenge for a medal! I watched this ride and thought , for the hundredth time at this championship, what an amazing thing it is to see these riders and horses. They execute the movements that I struggle with and make it look simple. But I can also see the organization, the focus, the lightning quick adjustments. It is a joy to watch. But back to the medals….Sönke;s score went up….81.277. Laura was still in the lead.
Then Charlotte….and I know she is a competitive rider who rides to win and can do it under pressure. The Grand Prix Special is a demanding test; on the long side from collection to extension, back to collection all in such a short space. This is how Charlotte did it. Collect, collect, boom…forward, forward, forward, then back, collect, collect. Seriously impressive. This is a mare working to fulfill her riders wishes.
And last was ….Isabell and the stunning mare, the heroine of the Grand Prix, Bella Rose.
Once again it was a superb. I have heard that there have been some couch equestrians who have been critical but I just say ‘shame on them’. This is a wonderful picture to see this mare doing such wonderful work for her rider. And she is a chestnut mare as well and they have a reputation for being difficult! Not this mare. She works 150% for her rider.
At one point in the test I looked at the score panel at the side of the ring. These panels show, with a slight delay, the score for each movement. The maximum score per movement is a 10. There are 7 judges. Then there is the trend or running total score shown. A 9.2 means several judges had awarded a 10! When I saw this I knew…...This was the Gold Medal ride unless something went horribly wrong.
Minutes later….another victory for Isabell and Bella Rose…score…86.246. The Gold Medal.
Gold…Isabell Werth and Bella Rose
Silver ….Laura Graves and Verdades
Bronze….Charlotte Dujardin and Mount St. John Freestyle.
No offence to Verdades who is an amazing horse but two of those medals were going around the necks of the riders of mares!!
The medal ceremony was happy and festive. Isabell showed some emotion when the German anthem played and why not? This is such a victory for her and for Bella Rose. World Champions. The medalists also received watches from WEG sponsor Longines.
Finally the victory round.
In the evening when I got back to my hotel I received the media email stating the various changes to the schedule that were being made due to the impending weather. Florence has been down graded to a Tropical Storm but is dumping massive quantities of rain and it was headed this way. The Dressage Freestyle was postponed to some time on Monday.
For me it is a long drive back to home and I had already chosen to take a longer more westerly route to avoid Florence. I have decided not to remain and will be heading out as soon as I post this. It has been a wonderful experience to see these horses and riders. And next time someone tells you how difficult mares are….just remember that some of them are the best and hardest working horses of all if they choose to work for you and not against you.