Sunday, August 5, 2012

Olympic Fever

My son pointing out that Dressage is, in fact,  #1!
So the Grand Prix portion of the London Olympics is complete, and I just want to say "Wow!".  There were so many really great rides this year.  I saw a lot of soft, relaxed rides.  I saw many correct extensions (as opposed to the "toe flinging", short-behind extensions of years past).  I saw a lot of loose curb reins.  Overall, I thought the performances were mostly good.  But, I tend to be a "glass half full" kind of gal.

I saw the "other" rides, too.  I know the controversy surrounding them.  And I will say that I did not like those rides, either.  But, I understand why they were scored the way they were.  The judges cannot just look at the horse's head and neck.  The judges cannot just look at the rider.  The judges must take the whole picture into account.  Those horses performed excellent tests, in spite of their riders, and those horses deserved the scores they earned.  It's important to remember that there are two competitors in the dressage arena, and sometimes one of the competitors is carrying the other.

I'm really looking forward to the Grand Prix Special.  I think many of the competitors in the first round were dealing with some "New Venue, Holy %^&*$&! We're At The Olympics!, Is That An Actual Cheering Crowd At A Dressage Event?!"  jitters and will settle down and put in some really good tests in the second round.





7 comments:

  1. I missed it. Only saw two show-jumping rides. Oh well. Good thing there is YouTube!

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    1. NBCOlympics.com shows a replay, too! But, they don't show everybody, just the highlights.

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  2. I totally agree with this post. I thought Steffen and Ravel had a really beautiful test, but the Brits were absolutely fabulous! I can't wait for the Special and the Freestyle!

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    1. Steffen Peters is my idol! I love watching him ride. I aspire to have my horses look like his. But, I also love Carl Hester! He is such a beautiful rider. And Charlotte Dujardin is Carl Hester's student! *Swoon*

      The Grand Prix Special and Freestyle are going to be very exciting!

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  3. Ah, but the judges CAN look at the head and neck if the horse is behind the vertical. They can lower a score for a movement if they so choose, commenting on the incorrect head carriage. They can also penalize in the collective marks, including rider position and effectiveness of the aids. When a rider scores over 80%, I doubt any of that has happened.

    And the president of the ground jury could warn the competitor upon entering the arena if excessive force is being used.

    My problem is that the FEI chooses to sweep most of this "under the rug" in every phase of the competition.

    And I do agree, there were some truly lovely rides with happy, correct horses that did not look at all forced. Right now, the bit, extravagant movers are the top scorers, once again, "unleveling" the playing field in favor of physical talent over training, but fortunately, most of the extravagant movers were also well ridden and trained.

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    Replies
    1. Ah, but I think they did lower the score for the behind the vertical moments. The high scoring BTV horses did the movements well. In some cases, the BTV horses performed some of the movements better than the highest scoring horse (except for the BTV). But, the highest scoring horse was ridden very correctly and I think that made all the difference in the score.

      I really wish they would show the individual movement's scores and judge's comments! It would be so illuminating!

      Unfortunately, until the FEI changes their incredibly loose rules regarding this issue, the stewards, ground jury and judges have their hands tied. The FEI isn't sweeping it under the rug. They don't need to sweep it under the rug because they don't even acknowledge it as a problem!

      In all sports, the field is unlevel and favors physical talent over training. I could hire Michael Phelps' trainer, copy his every move, shadow his training regime perfectly, but I would never beat Michael Phelps in a race because I'm 5'3 and have Tyrannosaurus Rex arms. I could train with Stefan Peters and shadow his every move, but I'd never beat him at riding and training because of the whole "5'3, Tyrannosaurus Rex" arms thing. I was really, really happy to see so many big, extravagant movers being ridden very well by their tall, svelte riders, though! I think we're moving in the right direction.

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  4. Unfortunately, a BTV horse, warmed up in rollkur in the arena prior to going in, was scored in second place.

    Was he so much better than correctly ridden horses that the lower scores he should have earned for being BTV were still 8's and 9's?
    There could not have been much penalty for BTV, in my opinion. He resisted reinback and in the extended gaits did not lengthen his neck. It was a "saddlebred moment" in there...and I used to have a Saddlebred I had to retrain to go correctly through his back. He could move impressively without being correct, but he was wonderful once he moved correctly through his back into the bit.

    Frustrating.

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