I mentioned a few weeks ago that I would be closely watching the European Championships in Herning via FEI TV, but something got in my way and I found myself on a plane bound for Paris last week instead of setting my alarm for 3 am to watch the Dressage and Jumping action on live streaming. My excuse was a good one, since I attended a charming little wedding between one of my very very besties and her Charolais-breeding now-husband. Alas, with all the travel and nuptials, I was able to witness only the last five freestyles on Sunday – though if I had to pick one hour of the Euros that I would not want to miss, that was certainly it.
You may recall that I predicted Epona.tv would be all over Herning, capturing condemning photos and video for their welfare crusading. Not only did they go to town once again on dressage by way of accusing Andreas Helgstrand of ‘flogging a sick horse‘, they put up some incriminating roll kür images from the show jumping warm up, in support of their argument that they aren’t picking on one discipline only. I watched the video of Andreas, and have only this to offer: that’s one awesome kick ass horse! I don’t get why Epona did all this rewind-slow-mo replay of what to me looks like what can be found in any warm up at any CDI, anywhere in the world. Really, the only thing that you wouldn’t find elsewhere is the exceptional quality of the horse flesh. If the horse was sick, then Andreas is a bad man, no doubt about it. But the video itself doesn’t support that accusation in any way.
In the past, I have accused those deities otherwise known as FEI dressage judges of losing their collective minds when they are faced with judging the world’s stars at a major championship, and I believe that Herning was another case in point. The scores were so high for Charlotte that one has to wonder where on earth they can go in the future, such as when she gets her pirouettes down to the proper size. Given that the canter pirouettes are a coefficient movement, imperfections can have a pretty deleterious effect on the bottom line (the score, that is). Valegro does beautiful, beautiful pirouettes. The canter stride remains clear. He is soft and supple in the contact. The number of strides for each revolution is just right. But those pirouettes are not small, no way Jose. Just as in London last year, I am fully in agreement that Charlotte deserved to win. I just think that the judges got carried away with the marks. Three of them gave her around 90% technically. That’s almost perfect! I know Stephen Clarke, I know. Ten means ‘excellent’, not ‘perfect’; but as I’ve said before, until you find a mark to reward ‘perfect’, ten will always be, for all intents and purposes, the perfect score.
I hope to get caught up with some of the more interesting action on the on-demand coverage from FEI TV, but in the meantime here are a couple of tasty little snacks from the equestrian world I came across in recent weeks.
If you ever doubted Sr. B’s love of the media spotlight, here’s a little Washington Post story that should set you straight on his love for center stage. Funny how he keeps insisting that he won’t be interfering with the day-to-day business of the magazine, and yet the Post photos show the kind of boss everyone dreads, the kind who seems to be everywhere at once in the office. Oh sure, it was a photo shoot and we all know how accurately they portray reality. Still, I couldn’t help noticing how present Sr. B was in those offices. I also couldn’t help noticing in one shot (the one where he also appears to have misplaced his neck) that he has his stylishly shod foot parked firmly on the seat of a chair with no apparent regard for the fine upholstery beneath his sole.
The other, somewhat more entertaining, tidbit, comes from the recent Dublin Horse Show, where the Irish version of Kamikaze was on full display during what is known as a ‘hunt chase’. I dare you to get through the whole video without wincing, LFMAOing, or needing to close one eye. At least now we know where Cian O’Connor got his speed skills.