Now that I’ve seen him in the flesh with my very own eyes, I can die knowing that Totilas is everything the hype has made him out to be. I knew how he looked of course – like everyone else in the world I’ve watched videos of him ad nauseum on FEI TV and YouTube. But I have to say there is nothing like ‘live’ to bring an impression home. He’s not the best horse here at everything, but he’s as good as any at more things than any other (just read slowly, it makes sense) and his passage just might be the best a passage can ever be. There’s just something about the whole package, including Edward. I have heard people I respect liken the Totilas phenom with something that isn’t dressage – such as circus. I simply can’t agree with them. The horse looks so happy in his work, and so relaxed when Edward drops the reins and walks out of the ring with the inevitable smile on his face after yet another breathtaking performance. I’m officially a member of the fan club. I love cute horses. Maybe it sounds condescending to call such a charismatic super-athlete cute, but he just is.
Lexington gets my vote for most conveniently located warm up ring ever – Totilas drawing the crowd out of the stadium
Another truly inspiring pair are Laura and her gigantic orange horse. Watching Mistral Hojris piaffe (which some could argue convincingly is the best of this world championship) and make it look light and expressive, is a testament to both his ability and the quality of his training. Laura laid down a killer test and deserved every bit of that score – a score which helped earn Great Britain a historic silver medal – ahead of the former Titans, the Germans.
Speaking of Germany, when Isabell came into the stadium the crowd didn’t make a peep. It was as if they hadn’t even noticed her. As recently as two years ago the audience would have been cheering her arrival – maybe not with the same level of noise as they welcomed Totilas, but certainly more than what she got today, which was nothing. How quickly one star eclipses another. Her test was strong and her extensions in all gaits outstanding as usual. But the piaffe was a shuffle (reminiscent of Satchmo’s, minus the meltdowns) and there wasn’t quite the magic of the very top performances.
I know the draw for order of go is random, but what a remarkable coincidence it was that the US drew last, which made Steffen Peters the last one in the ring today. He was warming up with a helmet, leading us to think he would be the sole competitor to go in the stadium with a brain bowl. But at the very last moment he switched it for the top hat. Expectations on him and Ravel were truly astronomical; to his credit he really looked like he rode for every point he received. It was a great test with a couple of dodgy moments that betrayed how hard he was pushing for the very best Ravel had in him. In fact, it was almost impossible to catch the Germans. Steffen would have to have bested his previous best by several points to put the home team on the podium.
In my observation the podium belonged to the flags that deserved it. In my opinion not all the individual riders got what they deserved. If I can just get my hands on the individual movement scores, I will indulge my math fetish and crunch some numbers tomorrow. Speaking of tomorrow, when I’m not watching the GPS I’ll post my usual list of high lights, low lights, and ‘WTF was that judge looking at?’ comments from the team competition.
A quick comment about my own home team, the Canadians. A seventh placed finish may seem like a disappointment because the goal was top five. But we should remind ourselves how much improved Canada’s result actually was today compared to previous WEGs and the last couple of Olympics. All the teams that beat us today have been on the podium in World Champ or Olympic competition in the recent past – the team took Canada up into that group and I for one am a proud Canadian today. Ashley (12th) and Belinda (21st) will be back on a fresh slate for the GPS tomorrow.
For a brief moment yesterday, Canada sat in fourth place as a team.
Off to the hillbilly shack to eat some chicken that hasn’t been fried in half a pound of grease. But first here is one last image of Anky, who just couldn’t stay away from the dressage ring after all.
From rollkur to rollbacks – just kidding! It’s LDR.