Friday, April 27, 2012

What The Friday

 Continuing with my new theme "what the friday" I was going to write about this ...

...I found this gem while searching for stock photos for drawing, on a web page chock full of cray cray pictures. Another day. Another day.

This weeks "what the Friday" is about dressage days at Rolex.

I can sum it up  in about two words. Awfully disastrous.

I don't even know where to start my WTF rant about the abysmal dressage I watched on the USEF network. I will start with the statement, HOW IN THE WORLD DID HALF THOSE HORSES EVER MSKE IT TO 4* LEVEL? How?!

I saw more stiff, tense, disgusting transitions, lifeless extensions, horrid counter canters, messy flying changes, improper free walks and awful gaits than I do at any horse show I attend. AWFUL! I understand they are competing in a massive arena, but a 4* horse should know how to free walk.

Exibit A:

Isn't that wonderful? Working from behind, seeking contact, supple over the back. Lovely.

Exibit B:

Yeah thats not even a free walk at all. Maybe...MAYBE one could consider the slightly more active hind end, but in no way, shape or form does that horse (who resembles what most of these Rolex horses were doing) have an inkling of a free walk in there. Not a glimmer. The thing that makes a free walk different is the giving and seeking/stretching into the contact, swinging barrel and engaged hind end.

I just feel that a movement required at EVERY level of eventing, should at least be mastered by a 4* horse.

Not to mention the absolutely horrific scores. I would die if I ever got anything above a 45, ever. I mean I have once and I'm never telling anyone just how bad it was, but it was my first event, so whatevs) Numerous times I saw 50-60 scores. Yes, again, I know its a difficult test, but maybe the reason they are so bad is because the horses are faking it!!!! Ask any dressage rider (which I did), these tests were the worst I've ever seen at Rolex. I was rather dissapointed.

Makes me feel pretty awesome knowing my little OTTB has a better free walk (and other movements) than some of those big shot ponies. It also depresses me, since I've never been able to shwo above training for lack of $. Le sigh.

Granted, there were some fabulous tests and I wasn't able to catch everyone. Karen O'Conner had nice ones, as did the ever beautiful, Doug Payne, Peter Barry on Kilroden Abbott (a horse I've never seen, but was blown away by) who I felt got jipped with a score of 60 and of course, Arthur and Alison Springer who is in first with a 39!

Overall, I'm just annoyed with the riders not assuring their 4* horses know simple basics.

PUMPED to watch Cross Country all day tomorrow though.


  1. I think it has less to do with knowing basics and more to do with the dynamic tension between 4* xc readiness and the quiet submission of dressage. Most any of those horses could probably do much, much better, if they weren't also about to jump a freaking massive XC course tomorrow.

    And frankly, I'd take crappy dressage with a safe jumper any day of the week. (See also: Cuna.)

  2. I know. See big ass arena disclaimer. Still, 4* horses should be able to do a solid test-that is why they are of that caliber. And thats the challenge of evdnting, I don't find that a legitimate exuse.
    But I do agree on the safe part.


    1. My point exactly!!!
      50-60 scores are an outrage! Even 40s!

  4. First off you do realize that a 45 at an FEI event is a 30 at a regular horse trial, yes? FEI scores have 1.5 multiplier thus making the scores higher. Secondly, you said so yourself that the scores were very high, obviously having a bad (or nonexistent in some cases) walk was not rewarded. That test is also very hard. I'm sure most those horses behaved better in warm-up than in the ring. Also, those horses would have no trouble doing a decent 1st/2nd level test. It's the added difficulty of the **** test plus the atmosphere of Rolex that makes it so challenging. Overall I saw a lot of nervous horses with tactful rides.

    1. COMPLETELY forgot about the multiplier. Thanks for reminding me! Males the scores easier to stomach.
      I do realize all of this, (as I mentioned-->big arena and I KNOW the test is difficult. Not expecting the 4* level to be prancing about a BN test) I am merely dissapointed at what seems like the lack of mastering a basic skill.
      That being said, it was proven that is was not impossible to get a decent score. See Arthur and Alison. Form what I can remember, I've never seen scores across the board this high. AS you said and what I said to SB, the challenge of eventing is dealing with hot, pumped up horses in dressage.
      I just have this habit, when I get with a group of eventers/dressage people and we dicuss a topic (Rolex Dressage scores in this instance) I go off an explosive heated rant. I'm just discussing what I observed.

  5. Woah dude. You are pretty off base here. First of all, the multiplier, which another person mentioned. Scores in the 30's are ridiculously low for FEI, and up to 75 is a qualifying round. Second, it REALLY is much more difficult in the atmosphere and stringing all of those things together to make a complete test with a 4* fit horse. Trust me. I run Advanced, and my horse would score in the 30's at home, but stringing everything together in one test (because if I practice it too much, anticipation becomes a major problem) as well as nerves (on both our parts) means I end up in the high 40s usually at a HT. Difficulty of test became an issue at Intermediate; whereas I scored in the mid to low 30s at Prelim, at Intermediate the difficulty definitely caused tenseness and excitement in my fitter TB. And yet, I am still content to have these high scores at this level because my horse runs and jumps like a fiend, and is pretty good at show jumping too unless I screw up.

    And there is NO FREE WALK in a 4* test. In fact, there is no free walk in any of the FEI tests, 1* and up. Free walk ends at Prelim. Instead, the tests call for extended walk, which is a very difficult movement. Again, my horse has a lovely free walk, but his extended walk is much more difficult and I score very differently on the two movements. The extended walk requires a lengthening of frame, but NOT a lowering into the contact. The poll and ears should remain carried about the withers. You are correct, the second photo you posted is not a free walk. It is an extended walk.

    Next time, before you fly off the handle in a rant, try asking some questions first. The Chronicle Forums are a great place to ask questions such as 'Why are the scores so high?' and 'Why aren't any of the horses stretching down through their neck in the free walk?' I guarantee if you ask in the right way, your questions will be answered.

    1. Should have read your comment first, as I said the same exact thing about the Extended Walk :p. Being a part of FEI Dressage (watching my head trainer that is!) and reading tests too, there aren't any free walks above a certain level there either.

  6. Honestly Monica, I respect you greatly and you do show at a higher level of Eventing than Jake an I have, but since I ride almost strictly Dressage now I think I have the right to comment.
    I'd like to see ANY non pro get on one of those horses and make the test look flawless. Also, have you read the tests? They could be calling for an EXTENDED walk, not a true free walk, as is asked in most upper level Dressage tests, therefore they'd be ridden on the contact, with a longer stride. I didn't watch the podcast, so I can't comment on the tests themselves, but the movements could be different than what you're thinking they're for. An Extended Walk is completely different than a free one, and I'd think the riders would know the difference in asking for it as well, being that they're international level riders :p

    1. Yeah i f'ed up that one by not looking at the actual test and blabbing about it before checking my info. Totally owning up. I would expect them to know what a free walk was, which is why I was so...upset? I don't know. Haha.
      I was just bitching and disappointed in the scores bc in the past I have seen way better from 4* riders. Just overall disappointing. Anyways, not really going to care if ppl wanna snipe me, my blog!

    2. Well at least you owned up :p The only reason it hit a light bulb for me was I was watching my head trainer read a 3rd level test calling for the extended walk and put two and two together.
      I watch a lot of Dressage now ;p