Christopher Bartle gives a great anecdote in our interview this week, detailing how he bought a horse described as having “no dressage” — a horse who held the record for the highest-placed British dressage Olympian until Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro.
In Christopher’s hands the horse evidently had “some dressage”, just as under his guidance Word Perfect won Badminton and Germany’s event riders have cleaned up at every championship for the past four years.
He describes how, on arrival in the German camp, he set about injecting some “Anglo Saxon flair” into the riders’ controlled style. The reverse could be advised to those we watch — through gaps in our fingers — going across country with flair to burn and precious little control.
His thoughts on seeing all disciplines as complementary to each other, rather than separate, provoke further thought, too.
Following this good advice, you may find yourself in more prize givings. These are often fractious affairs, featuring rearing horses and riders leaning as far back as the horse’s tail in a vain effort to find some brakes. Organisers have tried myriad formats, and today we see showjumpers receiving champagne sans horse — though I imagine this is to lend a touch of Formula One glamour rather than safety. According to one organiser it is not the showjumpers they worry about, just the dressage riders. Time to take the Christopher Bartle approach and have some jumps built into that arena…
This comment was originally published in Horse & Hound magazine on Thursday 9 October, 2014