Andrew Bennie: WEG eventing — steadier trots in dressage needed to challenge the top *H&H VIP*

Opinion

My fellow judges and I all agreed that Julia Krajewski’s test at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) was lovely — Chipmunk FRH did such beautiful, harmonious work with great ease, and showed no stress or anxiety. Ingrid Klimke’s FRH Hale Bob OLD doesn’t have as good a canter as Chipmunk, but Ingrid pulls in marks for her accuracy and fluency.

I placed Thibaut Vallette’s Qing Du Briot ENE HN second and he sat fifth overall. I was sitting at B and, from the side of the arena, he looked really well-balanced, relaxed and obedient; again very harmonious. The other judges said that from the front, the lateral work was not as good as my viewpoint suggested.

Ros Canter was impressive with Allstar B and Tina Cook had achieved an effective turnaround with Billy The Red — I have judged him twice this year when he practically refused to halt or rein-back, but he never looked like putting a foot wrong here.

We judges agreed that all the British horses appeared a fraction hurried in the trotwork and their marks in that pace were consequently lower than in the canter work. A few riders from different nations were also guilty of this — some really winged it down the centre line to the initial halt, presenting a canter which was working or even towards medium, rather than collected. This speed was also evident in several other movements with some horses.

All teams within 32 marks

As so often, there was some talk from riders about being under-marked, but I would have to respond by suggesting that they should sit and see all the tests, as the judges do, or at least have a look at the better tests, which they may just learn something from!

Some of the lower-scoring tests were probably down to the fact teams brought more thoroughbred types, who they expected to cope with the hill across country, but who are not always so settled, or more inclined to do well in the dressage in the big atmosphere.

Overall, I felt the standard was high — I gave a good lot of nines, plenty of 8.5s and a lot of eights. The flying changes have really improved and the half-passes and shoulder-in looked more supple than previously.

We see far fewer really bad tests now in eventing. No horses came into the arena and completely lost the plot, although a few were distracted and looking for the entrance. It helped horses that the arena was so big and several competitors did big canter circles before entering.

The improvement in the standard and the loss of the coefficient has brought the marks so much closer at the top. The spread from top to bottom is also much reduced.

In the long-term, the decreased influence of the dressage may lead to people working a bit less hard on their flatwork and, in turn, it may follow through that horses are less trained for cross-country. It may mean that they are less accurate for skinnies or less adjustable in the canter.

But with all the individual marks within 22.5 marks and just 31.3 penalties covering all 16 teams, it certainly made for an exciting competition.

Ref Horse & Hound; 20 September 2018

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