When dressage fans hear the ‘How to train your dragon’ score, we instantly conjour up a vision of Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro, but fans in New York were treated to a rather different picture when the world number one rode to her famous freestyle music on a horse she had only sat on once before.
Having decided it wasn’t in Valegro’s best interests to travel over to America so soon at the Europeans, rather than let down her North America fans, the 30-year-old borrowed Evi Strasser‘s attractive grey grand prix horse Renaissance Tyme and rode her freestyle as a demonstration at Rolex Central Park Horse Show in New York instead.
“For me, this week has been completely different because I’ve had no pressure,” said Charlotte.
“It’s been complete fun to be here in New York. I’ve done some sightseeing and it is brilliant to be here and to see the show, the backdrop and how everything is set up.
“It was like learning new buttons with Evi’s horse. This is literally the second time I’ve ridden him — I hadn’t at all gone through the lines, so it was a hope and a prayer that it all came off,” she added.
“He’s a fantastic horse. Evi Strasser has done an amazing job and I’m so lucky to be able to come here and ride him.”
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Germany’s Isabell Werth and El Santo NRW gave the New York crowd a commanding performance with a final score of 80.333% to claim the U.S. Open $75,000 Dressage Freestyle title at the show.
“It is an outstanding and special atmosphere and beautiful venue. The skyline is brilliant — never have I seen a skyline like this for a competition,” said Isabell.
“I think the special thing about this freestyle is that you have a lot of transitions and a lot of combinations between extensions, half pass, passage and piaffe. There’s no break and no time to think. But, now after a while I feel really at home in this freestyle and together with this music.”
Pope Francis’s appearance in Central Park, whilst on his visit to America, was an added surprise to proceedings at the show.
“I was standing on the roof of the steward trailer and caught the eye of the Pope,” added Isabell. “It made this show a double [of] highlights in my life. It was really amazing and a feeling I will never forget.”