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Some Great Dressage Kurs! January 4, 2010

Posted by mikeschaffer in balance, Behind the bit, calmness, competition, corrections, dressage, Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas, half-halts, hyperflexion, looseness, Riding, roll kur, The Training Pyramid, training.
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I was poking around youtube and came across these rides from the European Championship 2009 UK Windsor. Please enjoy them and then post your POSITIVE comments about each. In fact, try to post at least several POSITIVE things about each ride. It’s great fun and learning to see what’s right with rides is a necessary part of learning.

Starting with the lowest placed ride that I’ve selected, but still, a very nice ride that I like more each time I see it.

Here we have Laura Bechtolsheimer & Mistral Hojris 81.750% KUR

From that, we go on to Anky getting only a bronze! What’s more surprising is she only got bronze with a score of 87.250%

I hadn’t seen the rider before stumbling onto this ride – she took the silver from Anky by .1%

And finally Edward Gal & Moorlands Totilas Kür 90.750% European Championship 2009 UK Windsor

Remember – just POSITIVE comments….




1. Stephanie - January 5, 2010

Thanks Mike–I’m ready to move on from the rollkur madness to something more interesting.

I had to watch the videos twice cuz the first time I kept finding all the faults…always so easy to criticize. I don’t envy the judges job one bit!

Video1: I enjoyed watching this horse. He seemed really relaxed. He had nice even leg movement in piaffe, esp the first one. He had great halts and fluid transitions. The views of the trot extentions were hard to see. And I liked the music for this kur the best.

Video2: There were no halts in this one, but I did like the extended trot and the canter pirouettes had good rythmn and the single tempis were pretty straight. I didn’t think the piaffes stayed in place–they are supposed to right?

Video3: Umm I could only find 2 things I liked. The music was a nice fit with her horse, and the 2nd piaffe was good. I thought maybe the horse was getting tired towards the end. The right front leg seemed to be lifing higher than the left and the hind legs kind of flicked in piaffe and passage. I don’t know, the gaits just weren’t as fluid and even as the other horses. And the lead changes were not very straight compared to the other horses. and no halts.

Video4: piaffe was nicely in place. there was no change in tempo from free walk to collected walk (that’s a postive comment!), the tempi changes were straight and effortless. My impression of the piaffe is that he seemed to be on the forhand as his hindquarters seemed to be hopping-like heavy on the forehand.

Video5: Guess that’s why he got a 90%! What a nice horse. Great halts, fluid expressive gaits and this is the only horse where I really noticed the horse “sitting” more in the piaffe. I watched this one 3 times!

Another observation was the riders. When I watched the first girl my inital thought was boy she is working hard, but then all the ladies kind of looked that way whereas the men seemed much more quiet. Would that be due to anatomy or strength or it’s just each persons riding style?

Sorry if I didn’t exactly follow the positve comments only rule, but it was in hopes to generate discussion by comparing.

2. eventerchick - January 13, 2010

By far, my favorite was the first ride. The others were great too, but in that first one, the horse looks (with the exception of the second half of the tempi changes) relaxed, and like he really was enjoying himself. Thank you for posting this! I love finding new videos that inspire me!

mikeschaffer - January 13, 2010

Hi Eventerchick,

Welcome to the blog. I’ll be putting up more videos as a regular feature.

I have to admit that ride is a favorite of mine too, and for the same reason – as well as the idea that I could come close to achieving that ride. Some of the others are just out of reach.

Pam - January 14, 2010

I keep going back and watching the first video with Kittel and Scandic and it gets better everytime. I love the music selection – never thought I’d see a freestyle at this level with Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence”! The music fits the horse and rider impecably. Also, I think what makes these two great is the feel that Kittel has for this horse.

mikeschaffer - January 15, 2010

My feeling exactly. The more I watch it the better I like it. He actually has a head and neck position more to my liking that Tortilos – Scandic is more up and OUT. I also think this is the kind of ride that more people can realistically aspire to – the horse, while a handful, just hits me as having gaits that are more approachable. He also displays that perfect metronome like tempo, and the last piaffe/passage were, if not 10’s, 9.5’s IMO.

Pam - January 15, 2010

Well, persoanlly, I really enjoy the horses that are usually considered a “handful”. These are the ones that bring out the best in me – I seek out the challenge they offer.

Good point about Scandic being more up and out.

Pam - January 30, 2010

I finally brought myself to watch Anky’s video. It seems the rolkur madness had an effect on me in the sense that I didn’t want to be attacked for not agreeing with what seems to be the majority in America. Strange how the mob mentality can do that, but I enjoyed watching the ride and I see a happy horse and very happy/skilled rider. What I don’t see are the ill effects of rolkur, despite what the famous German vet is claiming. So I am wondering how they can work a horse so deep and still be effective. One possible consideration comes to mind after watching Anja Beran’s third dvd where they show a horse that likes to go a little deep – they easily manage it with keeping the correct bend. Just a thouhgt.

Jenny Pournelle - February 8, 2010

AsI think you are right. I’m posting a link here of something that’s not FEI dressage, but certainly classical. Watch this horse at play, and then under saddle. He has such a clean throatlatch, and his carriage so naturally hinges at the poll, that despite his big, cresty neck “working deep” is clearly no trouble at all for him. I can’t help but think that big warmbloods–who are now routinely shown at that size & weight of coach horses–>need< some kind of gymnastic to develop this combination of strength & looseness of the head and neck to enable them to move freely "back to front." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1fsXJlesiU

3. Jenny Pournelle - February 8, 2010

I love Scandic’s big, free movement from his first canter in. You really see the relationship among “collection,” “engagement,” “impulsion,” and “extension” in this horse (see for example around 2:49). I think it is unusual to see the degree of closure of hip & stifle joints in a big, long-limbed horse like this, especially coupled with that big, free, open shoulder. You could picture him doing anything at the next transition–including thunder into a Hussar’s charge or take a Grand Prix fence. And look how quiet the tail; how soft the ears–this brassy fellow is quite relaxed and pleased with himself, and every movement is easy for him.

4. Jenny Pournelle - February 8, 2010

The first thng that strikes me about Mistral is the amazing reach, flexibility, and tempo of his lateral work. You really see the ultimate connection here between bend and passage–there’s just this seemless, airy flow of suspension generated by all that power. His extended trot is very flashy–but does show one of my personal pet peeves (which is no bad reflection on him or his rider–this is a beautiful performance). That is: it has become common to see extension at the trot in which the knee snaps completely open so that the forelg shoots way out beyond the plane of the face, and then has to be withdrawn to touch the ground. It looks very snazzy, but when pushed like this at the lower levels the trot becomes a four-beat gait b ecause the landing of the diagonal pair is broken. So really this is a question: is this simply no lnger scored down?:

5. Jenny Pournelle - February 8, 2010

OK, now to Anky & Salinero Let me start by saying that I’m sort of preudiced against–and not because of the Rollkur hystrionics. I’m just not a fan of highly technical rides. That is just a personal preference, and not a statement about one or another school of dressage. I wasn’t so enamoured of Reiner Klimke back in the day, either, but like Salinero I was amazed at Ahlerich’s pinpoint focus. I absolutely respect the immense athleticism, discipline, and knowledge it takes. OK, so that said, I was delighted by several things in this ride. Firstly, here is the counter-example of the extended trot I was talking about. Saliner0 floats in extension like a metronome, with slight elasticity in the knee even at the biggest strides. I also like his fluidity and balance in the canter piroueets–it is a true, relaxed canter on a teensy circle, not something forced and galumphing.

6. Jenny Pournelle - February 8, 2010

Rats. Lost my comment on Adelin & Parzifal. Two things really struck me about this ride, and I am sure they are related. The first is how elastic and supple the horse his: the tempi changes do really show that off, but it is true throughout. The depth of bend in his canter pirouettes is amazing. The second is how flexible, supple, and elastic the rider’s hips and back are. On the canter transitions, look how far “behind the verticle” she seems to come–that is, until you watch her seat, which is supply following the huge moves of that horse’s back.

7. Jenny Pournelle - February 8, 2010

I’ve commented on Totilas elsewhere. We only get to see one horse like this in a lifetime, and that only if we are lucky.

mikeschaffer - February 8, 2010

Hi Jenny,

Thank you for all of your comments. You have a great eye! Brought my attention to a bunch of things I had missed before.

I think both you and Stephanie picked up on the women appearing to “work harder” than the men. I think your comment about them riding coach horses goes to the heart of the matter.

Re: Anky, Salerno is 16 this year – he just won at Palm Beach. He is still 100% sound. He is not an easy ride. This is the second world champion/Olympic gold medalist she has kept going this long. Edward Gal is one of her students. She is one of the great masters of our sport.

Jenny Pournelle - February 9, 2010

Thanks Mike–high praise indeed coming from you. I wish I had a seat to match! Re Anky: absolutely. I saw her win the silver in Atlanta on Bonfire in 1996, when I knew nothing about her except that she was clearly in a class by herself. She and Bonfire radiated charm and happiness, in spite of the rain, heat, and humidity.

I did not know this about Salinero (difficult ride)–it explains a lot. It takes smart, alpha horses to compete up there in the ether, and smart, alpha horses need clear strong boundaries and demand absolute, unerring focus. He ain’t your daddy’s quarter horse, that’s for sure.

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