The WDM Grand Prix is just about to begin – the last time I saw so many people watching a dressage warm up on this continent was at WEG. Ok here’s my blow by blow coverage of what’s in the show ring this warm, muggy south Florida afternoon.

Carl – first in – he’s not on the greatest athlete and he’s never shown Wie Atlantico before, but it was a more than decent test. The horse gets a bit quick and snatchy in the piaffe, which was probably the worst thing one can say about the ride. 69.9%

Yvonne and Liebling – another new combination with not too many shows under their belts as a pair. There was the occasional sign of that fact in the test. No big holes though. 62.043

Heather and Paragon – big cheers for them when they came in. It’s pretty hard not to be impressed by Paragon’s front legs and incredible height, but all I can think is what a shame it would have been if the show organizers, FEI and riders hadn’t agreed on the downgrade of the WDM to four stars so that she (and Carl, and Yvonne) would be allowed to compete. If you are confused, see my press release of last night here.  So Paragon is a bit less settled in the ring. I think Heather’s working a bit harder than yesterday. But what a rider she is. He stopped a couple of times in protest in the piaffe after the walk and she managed – very tactfully – to get him to do the piaffe anyway. Crowd loved it. Score is actually higher than yesterday but I think that’s mainly because the judges have quickly learned that it’s ok to give him some marks, as young and green to the level as he is. 71%

Pierre and Lucky Tiger – I must confess the horse looks a bit diminished from the presence of a year ago. Not sure if it’s an age thing but it was a very competent test, and following the likes of Paragon can’t help. 66.021%

Ashley and Breaking Dawn – I am seeing this horse for the first time here in Welly, and I LOVE HIM. He’s beautiful  in a cute way (or cute in a beautiful way) and has a lot of ring presence. I do still have a big soft spot in my heart for Poppy, who won the three star GP and GPS yesterday and today. But this new one is definitely one for Ashley’s future. Lovely trot work, and like Poppy he has real talent for the Pi and Pass. I suppose that says something about Ashley’s talent for riding the piaffe and passage, hm? His canter gets tight and bouncy-bummed but she rode a very clean tour. Must be pretty awesome to be scoring consistently over 70 right out of the gate. 71.404%

James and Pharaoh – I had never seen this horse before a schooling session in the main ring the other day and he stole my heart because he’s LITTLE and CUTE, just my kind of horse.  The super canter I saw the other day has been diminished by some tension today, which is a shame because it’s a strong gait for him, along with the piaffe and passage, which today was really quite good. Nicely ridden too. 64.809%

Minna and Deinhardt – horse looks a bit green about the atmosphere but definite talent there. He buries himself a bit in the frame at times which is making a dent in her score. It’s interesting to have seen some of these horses in schooling compared to the pressure of the ring. This horse looked much better when he wasn’t in the pressure zone. Some very good work on the final centre line.  66.787%

Todd and Otto – Todd is one of the very  few riders in a top hat, and the first North American in this class not wearing a helmet. Very competent test with some super work. Very gutsy half pass zig zag – not a movement I’ve seen ridden that well today. Actually, a movement that is not often well ridden. 69.681%

Jacquie and Gran Gesto – scratched. I can’t say I’m surprised. He was held in the jog yesterday and the jury took an awfully long time to accept him after the re-presentation.

Adrienne and Wizard – super elastic horse and interesting to watch. My bet is that if she rides like that for the next six months she’ll be going to London. Crowd (an almost full house – clearly the folks who bought tickets to this are true fans of dressage) really appreciative. Adrienne takes over the lead, very impressive!!! 72.149%

Per and Lomumba Havdal (please let’s find a friendlier name for this one) – really cool, athletic horse, but everything is in slow motion and there is a lot of swinging in the passage. Per is a very good rider though and I am still sad that his partnership with the wonderful horse Zancor ended after their stunning performances at the Athens Olympics. 65.894% (that actually seems low to me – and I would say that overall the scores are pretty ‘real’ today)

Vicki and Proton – Proton was not always sure he wanted to play today but he is a good old trooper. I’m going to give Vicki’s helmet two thumbs down, not because I think she should be wearing a helmet but because the one she chose is bicycle-helmet-ugly. 60. 426% . Nothing to write home about.

Ok now it’s the break and then and then….Valegro!!!!! Bring him on! I don’t have time to go to the warm up but the stands are now half empty and you can’t see the fence around the warm up ring for all the bodies.

Look! Here is Charlotte warming up:

Hey! Dudes in blue and red shirts!  You’re missing the action. It’s behind you.

And here is my impression of seeing the dressage world’s latest flava flave up close and personal: WOW. Zowee. Bam. Real words evade me, but the goose bumps say it all. There is something about this pair that is a whole new world. It’s not over-the-top legs flying everywhere, it’s all about the whole horse and power that is made beautiful. Interesting to note she wore a helmet, which makes her the first Euro I’ve seen compete in a Grand Prix CDI in a helmet. 78.468%. How you like them apples, Florida?

Tinne and Favourit – that can’t be fun, following Valegro. The horse somehow doesn’t look quite as exciting as he did last year. His first piaffe was almost walking on the spot. Canter tour was super though. I think it might have been tension that made him look a bit flat because the last centre line was really good with plenty of expression. 73.255%

Tina and Calecto – it was a really good  test until the piaffe after that walk (that ultimate pressure cooker at I) and he blew up – not a huge blow up but enough to hurt the score. Big mistakes in the ones as well, and quit on centre line well before G for the final halt. First time I’ve ever seen this horse look like he isn’t loving his job. 68.426%

Anja and Le Mont D’Or – another Euro helmet! There’s something to warm the hearts of all helmet crusaders. The Europeans are warming up to helmets, and not just in the warm up.  This is such a pretty horse, and I love that Anja puts some colour in the place with her shiny blue coat. Very pleasing test overall. 71.404%

Steffen and Ravel – defending champs, can they do it? Can they pull off an 80 today? He sure can, and he did! I think this must be a new record for him, and therefore for an American. Steffen is just so damned good, and Ravel is just so damned giving. Really incredible dressage. 81.468%!!!!

How's that for a half-way score?

Ok off to the press conference to ask Charlotte why she went for the brain bowl. If you are jealous that you didn’t see it today, then get over to the USEF Network live streaming for tomorrow’s GPS and Freestyle.