Tag Archives: dressage

Carl Hester’s Dressage Challenge Is LIVE in Ridely Right Now

Are you ready to take on the challenge? This is a fun new way of learning and improving your riding.

The Carl Hester Dressage Challenge

Together with Carl, we have made a series of challenges that target specific areas of training to help you squeeze a few more marks out of your dressage tests. Each challenge will focus on a different set of movements, and you will find a few brand new videos with Carl as well as a step by step guide to help you improve the specific movement.

Prize for best improvement

During each challenge we want to see your progress, so we encourage you to share your before and after videos, where the best improvement will win an exciting prize. Each challenge will run for 4 weeks before the next one launches — make sure those notifications are on.

Challenge #1: Halts and Centre Lines

They’re in every single dressage test, so why not aim to get a 10? In this first challenge, Carl gives you his tips for getting the perfect centre line and halt. It’s live right now so you can head into the app to begin.

In this first challenge, the best improvement will win a brand new LeMieux x Ridely saddle pad, signed by Carl Hester himself. Don’t miss out on the chance to improve your test scores AND win a signed saddle pad — everyone’s a winner.

teamridely@ridely.com

Gótico Interagro Augments Accolades with 2022 USDF Awards

Photo: Gótico Interagro and Randi Joslyn.

Mashapaug, CT (November 7, 2022) – Gótico Interagro and owner Randi Joslyn of Quadrifoglio Dressage added a few more accolades to their list of awards earned during their 18-month partnership. In that short period of time, the pair has been named to multiple Championships and Reserve Championships for the United States Dressage Association (USDF) and their local GMO, and plan to move up to the Prix St. Georges Level in 2023, with their sights set on their first CDI.

Bred by Interagro Lusitanos in Brazil, Gótico came to Joslyn in the spring of 2021. After seeing something special in the beautiful mahogany bay gelding, a week later Gótico was part of the Quadrifoglio family. The pair started out at Second Level, and in less than a year they were named the 2021 USDF US Lusitano Reserve Champion in the Third Level Open division, the 2021 Connecticut Dressage Association Third Level Open Champion, the 2022 US Lusitano Champion at Fourth Level in both the Open and Adult Amateur divisions, and the USDF Fourth Level Vintage Cup Champion. Gótico has since been successfully schooling the Prix St. Georges and FEI movements, pulling from the natural athleticism, intelligence, and rideability Interagro strives for in their breeding program.

Gótico Interagro is by Profano Interagro, a stallion known for producing exceptionally versatile and athletic offspring. Gótico, before being exported to the US, was highly awarded in Working Equitation, and was beloved in Interagro’s training barns as a young horse because of his exceptional personality. The gelding’s unique character and abilities are what drew Joslyn to him to start, and have proven to be an incredibly important aspect of their training up the levels.

“He has the most amazing personality,” said Joslyn. “I describe him as an old soul because it’s like there is a wisdom about him. He is picky about who he sees as ‘his people,’ but he is kind to everyone. He’s extremely athletic and incredibly smart. He picks up on new skills quickly and then goes out of his way to make you happy. There is also a regal side to him, so much so that he has become affectionately known as ‘his lordship’ in the barn. I’m really looking forward to moving up with him and I hope to someday compete with him at Grand Prix. He truly is the most amazing horse and I feel very honoured that he let me into his enormous heart.”

For more information on Interagro Lusitanos, Interagro’s horses for sale, or the Lusitano bloodlines, visit Interagro’s website at www.lusitano-interagro.com.

Media contact:
Equinium Sports Marketing, LLC
Holly Johnson
holly@equinium.com
www.equinium.com

Team Bronze for Hamilcar Interagro and Malin Morén at 2022 South American Games

Malin Morén and Hamilcar Interagro (Photo by Cora Causemann)

Asunción, Paraguay (October 21, 2022) – Hamilcar Interagro and Uruguay’s Malin Morén delivered exceptional tests at the Prix St. Georges and intermediaire I level during the 2022 South American Games, held October 1-15 in Asunción, Paraguay, to help earn Team Bronze. Along with teammates Agustina Bravo, Guillermina Birenbaum, and Carolin Mallmann, Morén and Hamilcar Interagro (Bungo Interagro x Tiffany Interagro) posted a score of 126.589 to take Bronze. As a precursor to the 2023 Pan American Games set to be held next fall in Santiago, Chile, these Games once again prove the mettle of the Interagro Lusitano on the world’s stage.

Bred in Itapira, São Paulo, Brazil on the tropical breeding and training center of Interagro Lusitanos, Hamilcar Interagro was sold by Interagro as a yearling in 2012. His lineage includes Ofensor (MV), arguably the most influential and iconic modern Lusitano stallion, Novilheiro (MV), and Yacht (SA). Hamilcar sire, Bungo Interagro, competed through the international FEI level in dressage, and boasted spectacular movement and conformation. Hamilcar Interagro clearly inherited his sire’s talent for dressage, and with Morén in the irons the pair danced their way through the Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire I, and Intermediaire I Freestyle in Paraguay. Their freestyle featured upbeat music by Ed Sheeran and earned scores as high as 72% from individual judges on the panel.

“Hamilcar Interagro is the most wonderful horse to ride,” said Morén. “His gaits are fantastic, especially his extended trot and collected work. It’s been very easy for him to learn new things and to quickly advance to higher levels in dressage. He is the perfect companion on the show grounds. I think he knows how beautiful he is and loves getting applause from the audience. In Odesur 2022, he proved that he is ready for the bigger competitions. He is a very special horse with a big heart and a mind made to compete!”

For more information on Interagro Lusitanos, Interagro’s horses for sale, or the Lusitano bloodlines, visit Interagro’s website at www.lusitano-interagro.com.

Media contact:
holly@equinium.com
www.equinium.com

Micaela Mabragana Earns CDI3* Grand Prix Special Win at Dressage at Devon

Micaela Mabragana and Diamond Rosso.

Alice Tarjan Wins CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle

Devon, Pa. – Oct. 1, 2022 – Dressage at Devon’s pinnacle classes of the week, the CDI3* Grand Prix Special, presented by BioStar Whole Food Supplements, and the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle, presented by Kingsview Partners, were highlighted in the Dixon Oval on Saturday evening. Ready for a night of musical freestyle performances in the electric atmosphere of the Dixon Oval, competitors and spectators reconvened for the evening session of FEI competition, seeing Micaela Mabragana and Alice Tarjan once again earn top placings, this time in the CDI3* Grand Prix Special and CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle.

Read more.

Shannon Dueck Takes Home CDI1* Intermediate I Win; Camille Carier Bergeron Clinches FEI U25 Grand Prix with Sound of Silence 4

Performance competition continued at Dressage at Devon 2022 on Saturday morning, with energy still high from the festivities of the night before. Featuring the Junior, Young Rider, and Intermediate I tests for CDI1*, CDI3*, and Amateur competitors prior to another exciting evening of special exhibitions, parties, and FEI Grand Prix competition, the historic show’s top competition continued over the weekend.

Read more.

Emma Miller
em@phelpsmediagroup.com

US Para Dressage Qualifies for Paris 2024 with Their World Championship Bronze in Herning

Roxanne Trunnell, Kate Shoemaker, Rebecca Hart, Beatrice de Lavalette, and Chef d’Equipe Michel Assouline. Photo courtesy of U.S. Equestrian.

Wellington, Florida – August 24, 2022 – Adequan® U.S. Para Dressage Team continued to prove themselves at another world event with multiple medal wins at the Orifarm Health FEI Para Dressage World Championship held in the BB Horse Arena. The 2022 ECCO FEI World Championships were held August 6-14 in Herning, Denmark. This was the ninth edition of the Games, which are held every four years and run by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI). These championships which were formerly the World Equestrian Games included jumping, dressage, para-dressage, and vaulting. Eventing, driving, and endurance will be held at a later date. The Adequan® U.S. Para Dressage Team included Roxanne Trunnell and Fortunato H20, owned by Lehua Custer; Kate Shoemaker and her own Quiana; Beatrice de Lavalette and Sixth Sense, owned by her parents Elizabeth and Nicolas; Rebecca Hart with El Corona Texel, owned by Rowan O’Riley; and Chef d’Equipe Michel Assouline. The team had top scores earning them a team bronze, an individual silver, and an individual bronze. They have now qualified the United States for a team berth at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

Kate Shoemaker of (Wellington, Fla.) and Quiana earned a fantastic score in the FEI Para Dressage Grade IV Freestyle, receiving an 80.275 percent. For Shoemaker and her 2014 Rhinelander mare, this was a personal best, winning them the FEI Para Dressage Grade IV Freestyle silver medal. Rebecca Hart (Wellington, Fla.) and El Corona Texel had some new experiences, but the veteran duo secured a bronze medal in the Individual para-dressage championship test grade III. They provided excellent scores for the team helping to secure the team bronze medal. In Grade II, Beatrice de Lavalette (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Sixth Sense did quite well, placing 4th in both her Grade II Individual and Team tests. Roxanne Trunnell (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) rode her new mount Fortunato H20. The pair had a great showcase and Trunnell was quite proud of the six-year-old Oldenburg stallion, scoring the pair’s personal best of 76.447 after only a very short time together.

In 2018, the trio of Shoemaker, Hart, and Trunnell made history with their unprecedented four medal wins for para dressage at the World Equestrian Games held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Tryon, North Carolina, United States. In 2021, at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the same trio secured a team bronze medal, Trunnell earned two gold medals, and the fourth current team member in Denmark, Beatrice de Lavalette, was an individual at that 2020 games.

Trunnell noted, “I cannot believe that Fish (Fortunato H20) handled that show as well as he did. The atmosphere at a big Championship is very different from any kind of show he had ever done. It was a big question mark whether he could keep it together for the whole event. He not only kept it together, but he scored above a 75% in only his second International show. Lehua Custer, Karin Flint, Andrea Woodard, and I all took a chance on Fish, and it paid off. Fish is definitely a superstar in the making and we’ll be back for more dancing down the centerline in the future.”

President of the USPEA Tina Wentz was alongside the riders and U.S. staff while in Denmark. She remarked, “The World Championships at Denmark exceeded our expectations and was truly a team effort. Watching each athlete, horse, trainer, and groom give 110% toward producing their best performances was a joy. Beginning at training camp under the leadership of Michel Assouline the athletes showed improvement each day leading up to the first day of competition. The goal was to secure a Team spot for Paris 2024, but the cherry on top was their team bronze, and individual silver and bronze. This definitely would not have been possible without everyone pulling together to help the athletes succeed including their sponsors and horse owners Karin Flint and Rowan O’Riley, Elizabeth & Nicolas De Lavalette, Deena & Craig Shoemaker, Lehua Custer, their trainers, Andrea Woodard, Nicole Wego-Engelmeyer, Jennifer Baumert, and Shayna Simeon, grooms Lillie Durbin, Molly O’Brien, Esteban Quintero, Rafael Hernandez Carrill, along with Chef d’Mission Will Connell, Team Leader Laureen Johnson, Chef d’equipe Michel Assouline, Team Vet Meg Mullins, and team Physio Joanna Frantz. A huge thanks to these and everyone who supported and worked hard to produce this tremendous result. I can’t help but think how proud both Hope Hand and Jonathan would be with the Team’s performances.”

For more information about the USPEA, please visit www.USPEA.org.

United States Para-Equestrian Association Remembers Organization President Hope Hand

Hope Hand at the Tryon CPEDI3* in Mill Spring, NC. Photo by Lindsay Y. McCall.

Newtown, Pennsylvania – June 29, 2022 – Hope Hand, USPEA President, passed peacefully surrounded by family at age 73 on June 12, 2022. Surviving is her husband, Stanley Hand, daughter Amy Cappozzoli and son in law Eric and their children, Parker and Lincoln, a brother, Charlie Kean and sister-in-law Pamela Kean, and her westie, Finley.

Sleep may be the only thing Hope Hand did not do well, and it would be no wonder since she gave 110% of her boundless energy and time to Para Equestrian Sport and Para Dressage. Constantly promoting, recruiting, educating, and encouraging everyone she met as she traveled at her own expense to all US International and National Championship competitions and to numerous Para Dressage symposiums, clinics, and Centers of Excellence. Hope not only knew every US Para Dressage athlete from emerging to elite, but recruited many of them, and was available 24/7 to all to advise, encourage, and educate them on their journey to be the best. Hope is well known in the equestrian world globally for her tireless work in advancing Para Equestrian sport and has served on numerous boards and committees, all in the pursuit of bringing competition excellence to the US in Para Dressage.

Two-time Paralympian Barbara Grassmyer and close friend of Hope remembered their time together. “Hope and I traveled many miles together. We were competitors first then became close friends. It was always an adventure when traveling with Hope. From flat tires in Germany to her being carried up two flights of stairs to the train by my Dad and the Mayor of the small town in Germany. She had a big smile and thrived on the adventures we had together. While we were in England, we decided to go to a safari park. While driving through the monkey area, a few came through the sunroof, making us laugh. Hope had a heart of gold and made sure everyone around her had a fantastic time. She became my mentor and then when my parents couldn’t make the international trips, she became my show mom. While I was horse shopping, I called her to tell her I found my dream horse. She didn’t like it when I informed her that Mibis was a chestnut mare. She came to love Mibis almost as much as I did. When Hope retired from competition, she took on yet another role as president of the USPEA. Without Hope the United States Para Dressage program would not be where it is today. In 2021, we had a watch party for the Tokyo Paralympics. We all stayed up all night cheering on the USA team. We both had tears of happiness when the team won the bronze and Roxie Trunnell won the gold medals for the United States. I enjoyed my time with the Hand family especially when I stayed with them for two summers before the Athens and Hong Kong Olympics. Their family was my family, and I watched her daughter Amy grow up, I watched Hope become a grandmother to two grandsons, and I met many of Hope’s dogs over the years. Hope was one amazing lady who never took no for an answer. She is greatly missed by her west coast family.”

Hope’s list of accomplishments and committee representations were always to help promote and grow the sport of Para-Dressage. Her achievements are as follows:

  • Established and served as President of the United States Para Equestrian Association 2010-2022
  • FEI Para Dressage Technical committee 2016-2020 & 2006-2010
  • USEF IDC member 2013-2022
  • USEF Para Dressage Sports Committee Vice Chair 2013-2022, Chair 2006-2013
  • Para Dressage Centers of Excellence panel 2017-2022
  • Path International Advisory Board 2018-2022
  • USEF Board member 11years 2002-2013
  • USDF Para Dressage Committee Chair 2006 up to restructuring ~2013
  • Instrumental in helping with the transition of Para Dressage into the USEF and FEI in 2006
  • Para Dressage Athlete representing the US at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics serving as Team Captain, 1999 World Dressage Championships Denmark earning a bronze, 1997 British Invitational earning a gold and bronze, and the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics
  • 1997 Bradshaw Challenge Cup at the Festival of Champions, competed with fellow team members Steffen Peters and Guenter Seidel
  • Spearheaded the first Para Dressage group fundraiser – webathon in 2010
  • Initiated clinics with high profile AB dressage clinicians stand alone and after CPEDI3* for PD riders, including Debbie McDonald 2011, Mette Rosencrantz 2012, and more
  • Initiated clinics/symposiums with FEI Para Dressage judges/trainers Hanneke Gerritsen 2011, Carlos Lopes
  • Worked to secure two spots for Para Dressage in Able-Bodied dressage clinics 2009-2011 with top clinicians Sue Blinks and Robert Dover
  • Has attended all US CPEDI3* to meet with new riders, parents, and clinicians for education information and recruitment.
  • Production of Para Dressage promo videos 2009 & 2011
  • Instrumental in the development of Para 101 for athlete education
  • Consistently works with show secretaries and regional dressage areas to include Para dressage classes at their licensed shows, and developed education sheet for how to include classes working with USDF
  • Recruitment of Para Dressage sponsors
  • Instrumental in working with show secretaries & USEF to hold CPEDI3* in the US
  • Initiated Train, the trainer program with FEI 5* judge & trainers Hanneke Gerritsen working with Carlisle continued developing symposiums for Train the trainer & developing HP athletes 2012-2014
  • Instrumental in working with USDF to establish Para Dressage year-end awards
  • Working with USEF to include Para Dressage in NAJYRC, and sponsor 2015 & 2016
  • Established & Developed the Para Dressage mentor program through USPEA
  • Worked with US Pony Club Association to mainstream Para Dressage riders

Tina Wentz who serves as interim President of the USPEA is also a mom of Jonathan Wentz who was a Para Dressage rider that rode on the U.S. Team 2010-2012. Wentz noted, “I had the incredible privilege of working alongside Hope since the time she first formed the USPEA, and I have yet to figure out how she was able to do the work of ten every single day, always with a twinkle in her eyes. I met Hope because of my son Jonathan. Hope and Jonathan, also a Paralympic equestrian, shared the same competitive spirit and independent mindset of never considering their disability but in developing their abilities. They saw themselves as parallel to able bodied athletes and fiercely promoted that to others. Para means parallel.”

Wentz continued, “The board of USPEA and all who knew and loved her will strive to continue her vision of Para truly being parallel, with ALL athletes focused and working together to improve their ability in equestrian sport and life. Hope was a remarkable and irreplaceable individual that I am so thankful to have known as a kindred spirit and friend. And I know she’d say to all of us don’t stop now, you must carry on!”

A memorial service is being planned later this year. Details will be published once confirmed. Follow United States Para Equestrian Association (USPEA) on Facebook to up to date on information.

USPEA accepts tax-deductible donations, and they may be sent to USPEA c/o Ellie Brimmer, USPEA Secretary, 12359 Westhall Pl, Wellington, FL 33414.

For more information about the USPEA, please visit www.USPEA.org.

Swiss Rider in the Lead after the First Day of Equestrian Festival Baborówko 2022

Felix Vogg (SUI) and Cartania. M&R Photo.

Baborówko, May 26th, 2022 – The first out of five days of international competition Equestrian Festival Baborówko is already behind us. The first parts of the dressage trials were played out in the CCI4*-S, CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S, and CCI1*-Intro.

After the first rounds of the highest subsidized class of the show – the CCI4*-S, for the prize of the Patron of the event, Mr Roman Roszkiewicz – the leader is Switzerland’s Felix Vogg riding Cartania. The highest placed Polish athlete is currently Robert Powala riding Quirino Del Castegno.

In the CCI3*-S, for the Kuhn Maszyny Rolnicze Trophy, the top of the leaderboard belongs to German riders. Anna Lena Schaaf is in the first place with Lagona Old, followed by Antonia Baumgart with Ela Lou and Julia Krajewski riding Chintonic 3.

In the 2*-S, for the trophy of Badix, the best result currently belongs to Janneke Boonzaaijer (NED) with Intermezzo Dea. Jerome Robine (GER) lies in second with Coby R, and Jan Matthias (GER) is in third riding Ibsen 27.

The leader of the CCI1*-Intro, for the trophy of Canter Club, is Malin Petersen (SWE) with Dancer Monkey 7, followed by Antonia Baumgart (GER) with Juna R and Lotta Lamberg (FIN) with Come In Like a Rose.

The dressage trials will continue in the CCI4*-S, CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S, and CCI1*-Intro. We will also begin the rivalry in the CCI4*-L for the prize of Lotto, where the athletes will have a chance to qualify for the World Championships, and in the CCIYH2*-S for young horses, for the trophy of Kunowo Stables.

More information and the program can be found at: www.festiwal.baborowko.pl.

Sweden Takes Command in Compiègne

Antonia Ramel (SWE) and Curiosity. (FEI/Laurent Zabulon)

Heading into the final day of competition at the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ in Compiègne (FRA), it was apparent it would take a monumental shift in momentum for Sweden to relinquish its grasp on the lead. Still, the dominance with which the squad of Juliette Ramel (Buriel K.H.), Antonia Ramel (Curiosity), and Patrik Kittel (Touchdown), led by Chef d’Equipe Jo Bena, executed victory was eye-opening. When Kittel and Touchdown received an 82.025 percent score for their Freestyle, it left Sweden’s final margin of victory at 32 points. Spain (48 points) finished second, with Belgium (51 points) third.

The win marked the third for Sweden at Compiègne in the last five years, having also triumphed in 2018 and 2021.

“We were a bit ahead of the others this time, and I’m very happy about that. They are doing so well in the ring and also in their training, and it looks very promising for the future,” said Chef d’Equipe Jo Bena (SWE).

Each point was equal to an athlete’s placing, with lower numbers reflecting top performances. All athletes competed in Saturday’s Grand Prix before splitting across Sunday’s Grand Prix Special and Grand Prix Freestyle tests, with the three best results tallied. No Swedish rider received a point tally in double digits, with all three making the podium in at least one test. After recording just 10 points from the Grand Prix, Sweden was even more dominant on Sunday, adding just six points to their score. While Kittel was the highest placing Nations Cup rider in the Grand Prix Freestyle, Juliet Ramel finished second in the Special (75.277%), with Antonia Ramel just behind her in third (72.043%).

“The horses have done very fault-free tests, and if there have been small faults, we have still be able to pick it up with high points,” Kittel said. “I think that’s what I’m most happy with. The thing is: the horses have all just been there for us through the entire weekend.”

Sweden put forth a squad of veteran riders — each an Olympic veteran — but the horses brought forward were mixed in experience. Touchdown had only performed two previous Freestyle tests at the CDI5* level and had never before contested a CDIO event. Curiosity, formerly trained in jumping, is also new to the level, having represented Sweden in one previous Nations Cup event at Aachen (GER).

“He’s been with me for a long time,” Antonia said. “He was in the beginning a jumping horse, which he did until he was six. I’ve educated him on my own, and I’ve had him now for seven years.”

With three appearances in the Olympic Games and a bronze medal from the European Championships, Buriel K.H. stood tall as the equine veteran of the group. The gelding performed with remarkable consistency, recording just 3 points in the Grand Prix (75.391%) and two points in the Grand Prix Special.

“He’s an amazing character. He always has my back,” Juliette said. “I’ve had him since he was 7; now he’s 16. So we’ve had a long partnership.”

Sweden’s win put them atop the standings for the 2022 FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ season with 15 points. Spain sits second with 13 points, two ahead of Belgium (11 points). The FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ returns 23-26 June in Rotterdam (BEL).

“It means a lot [to start the season strongly]. It’s always good to have a victory in a five-star Nations Cup to start with, and then we can go on with the rest,” Bena said. “And we have been lucky and also good, I would say, [in previous years], because we have won in Compiègne before. We like it very much here.”

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Rodolpho Riskalla: “You can do the job even if you’re disabled”

Rodolpho Riskalla (BRA) riding Don Henrico at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (© FEI/Liz Gregg)

The April edition of The Para Equestrian Digest is now out!

This month, Paralympic & World Championship medallist Rodolpho Riskalla (BRA) provides his views of what businesses can do to provide a more inclusive environment for people with disabilities.

About The Para Equestrian Digest

The FEI launched The Para Equestrian Digest in February 2022.  The online magazine was created for Para Equestrian athletes and the people connected to the sport so they can share – in their own words – their personal experiences and disability stories. Every month, the Digest will put the spotlight on an athlete or project in Para Equestrian sport with the aim of improving disability awareness and inclusion.

Previous editions of The Para Equestrian Digest: https://www.fei.org/stories/lifestyle/my-equestrian-life/para-equestrian-digest

March 2022: US Paralympian and 2021 FEI Against All Odds Award winner Beatrice De Lavalette talks about mental health and how she coped with losing both her legs in the airport terrorist attack in Brussels (BEL) on 22 March 2016.

February 2022: Five-time Paralympic gold medallist and two-time European Para Dressage champion Natasha Baker (MBE, OBE) talks about ableism and what can be done to change people’s attitudes towards disability.

Media contact:

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
vanessa.randin@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 73

Von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera Triumph, while Werth Retires Weihegold in Style

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

There’s nothing like a big win on home ground, but there’s also nothing like retiring a superstar horse in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd, so the Freestyle finale had it all when Jessica von Bredow-Werndl steered Dalera to victory at the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final 2022 where the sport said a rousing farewell to Isabell Werth’s great mare, Weihegold OLD.

The Leipzig Messe was electric with excitement all night, and some of the equine stars shrank under the intensity of the noisy atmosphere during the first half of the competition.

But when it came down to the wire the big names really rose to the occasion, and it was Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour who lined up second with her new young star Vamos Amigos, while Werth and Weihegold finished third.

Raised the bar

Werth raised the bar when putting a score of 85.921 on the board when fifth-last to go in the field of 17, Weihegold producing a stunning test that was full of energy and beautifully ridden by the lady long known as “The Queen” of dressage. The knowledgeable crowd was with them every step of the way, knowing that this was their last performance together as the mare was to be retired. When they came to a halt, the crowd rose to their feet with an enormous roar to acknowledge them.

Team gold and individual silver at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, European team gold in 2017, three FEI Dressage World Cup™ titles in a row including the last one in 2019, and team gold at last year’s European Championships in Hagen (GER) amongst their many achievements – their record has been extraordinary.

Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald followed with an impressive performance from the big-moving Atterupgaards Orthilia, who posted 81.239 for second place temporarily; next in was her compatriot, Carina Cassøe Krüth, whose ride on the light-footed, loose-limbed Heiline’s Danciera included fearlessly forward one-tempi changes. The crowd held their breath until the scoreboard showed 84.971 – Werth was still out in front.

Looked threatening

However, the last of the Danes had yet to come, and Cathrine Dufour always looked threatening when steering Vamos Amigo through a brilliant test, although clearly she wasn’t pushing the 10-year-old to the limit in extended canter. It was no wonder because, as she said afterwards, “He was a bomb today for sure!” He certainly looked explosive but contained himself to the very end and, once his rider relaxed the rein, wandered out the arena like he’d heard a crowd like this a million times. He certainly hasn’t though.

“He’s never been in a ring as full as this before; he was really brave today!” Dufour said with delight.

But the story certainly wasn’t over yet because the lady who has dominated the podiums at both the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the European Championships last summer was yet to take her turn.

Crest of a wave

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl arrived in Leipzig for this week’s Final on the crest of a wave but, as she pointed out, a little “rounder” than usual because she is expecting her second baby to arrive in a few months’ time. However, the little bit of extra weight wasn’t bothering Dalera as the pair executed yet another exquisite test that demonstrated the delightful harmony between these two.

The balance, rhythm, accuracy, and lightness, and the drama of their tempi changes all came together to present the loveliest picture, and as they pranced up the final centreline, it was clear the result was done and dusted. When their score of 90.836 was announced the crowd erupted yet again.

Winner von Bredow-Werndl said afterwards, “I just wanted to come here and of course it was my goal to show what we have shown the last couple of months, but it couldn’t have been better to take a little break now and come back soon!”

Dufour joked that she shouldn’t rush returning to the sport after her baby arrives – “Just stay away for a while!” she suggested with an enormous laugh.

The Danes had every reason to be on a high, Dufour filling second spot, Cassøe Krüth finishing fourth, and Skodborg Merrald lining up in fifth place, while Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg had to settle for sixth. It was a show of mighty strength from Denmark, and it’s a real shot in the arm ahead of this summer’s World Dressage Championships on their home ground in Herning in four months’ time.

Really fantastic

“It’s really fantastic to see how the system in Denmark has gone so well over last four or five years, and you clearly see what has been produced – riders bringing young horses to the top; the two girls that are here are really cool and they can perform under pressure, myself included, and of course we love to put pressure on the girls sitting here!” she said, looking at Werth and von Bredow-Werndl.

“But there is still some way to go; we saw that in 2020 suddenly things change, so for now we are going to keep the horses sharp, try to make a good plan, and then really just enjoy that the Championship is going to be on Danish soil. That is quite fantastic in itself, and we are looking forward to inviting everyone for a great battle and great sport,” Dufour added.

When asked about the Ukrainian flag she had pinned to her tailcoat, she explained, “There is an awful situation going on right now, so I’m wearing it to show support to the people affected by this crazy war.” Newly-crowned champion, von Bredow-Werndl, leaned forward in agreement and added, “We all carry that flag in our hearts.”

Flowing again

After the prizegiving, the emotions were flowing again when Werth and Weihegold entered the arena for the mare’s retirement ceremony. “When you are in a competition you are focused on that, and of course the last line (of their Freestyle) was also quite emotional and when they gave Weihe the standing ovation that was very great. But to go in with the team of people who have been around for the last seven or eight years – that was really emotional, to feel the atmosphere,” Werth said. However, she felt it was the perfect send-off in the end. “It was what you wish for a horse like her, to give her the last honour – it was just super!” she added.

Meanwhile, von Bredow-Werndl reflected on the performance from Dalera that made success possible. “There are no words! She was phenomenal – she always leaves her heart for me in that square (in the arena), and it is not natural at all, and at the same time she does it again and again. I have the feeling even now that we are not yet at the end of our journey together!” said the athlete who believes her mare has even more room for improvement, and who became the sixth German athlete to win the coveted FEI Dressage World Cup™ trophy since the first Final took place back in 1986.

Result here.

by Louise Parkes

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