Charlotte Dujardin and Emma Blundell’s Mount St John Freestyle blew me away with their resounding wins at their first international. During our recent British Horse Society (BHS) Fellows’ morning at Carl Hester’s, I learnt that every horse on his yard halts square. I’m sure their yearlings halt square in the field!
Chatting to our head of selectors, David Trott, about British team possibles for the World Equestrian Games, something fell from his lips about what sets Charlotte apart: the determination to win. Charlotte is 100% focused and the result is the best-looking up-and-coming partnership I’ve seen in the world.
No, the ever-discreet David didn’t let anything else slip. But it’s easy to take a punt on the team selection: Carl of course, and my bet is Spencer Wilton plus Emile Faurie.
Knocking on the door are Gareth Hughes, Lara Butler, Laura Tomlinson, Fiona Bigwood, and watch out for Sonnar Murray-Brown. Becky Moody is looking good while Richard Davison always times his reappearances appropriately.
But it’s those top four, with their genuine medal prospects, that the others must budge.
Under new rules, FEI grand prix floorplans must be submitted in advance, although we’re still allowed one joker line. Uh oh, all my lines were jokers, adapted as we went along depending how the horse felt.
I’m not sure if I like the change. Being rather musical, I know how hard it is to find off-the-shelf scores to fit one’s floor patterns. I used to create my floorplan to suit my music, rather than choose music to suit my floor patterns as is more normal today. It meant that if I messed up a movement, I knew how to change my floorplan on the spot to fit it in again, and still match the music.
Only the top lot can afford specially written music, often costing thousands, so I hope pre-submitting plans doesn’t filter down to novice.
Talking of floor patterns, how did renvers slip off all dressage tests? The movement is identical to travers but with tail to wall instead of head to wall. Take away the wall, and it’s the well-known half-pass.
The Pony Club has travers as an A test requirement, but not a half-pass. The latter is so much better for horse and rider as it encourages forwardness, which a wall does not. I wish the Pony Club asked for renvers instead.
Technical tools ok?
No sport can ignore the impact of social media and on welfare issues such as rollkur or hyperflexion, we have indecision.
To quote H&H’s content director Sarah Jenkins: “We need governing bodies to be both tackling and seen to be tackling this once and for all.”
On rollkur, Sarah asks: “Where to draw the line?” to which I add: “What is too deep?” These questions should be discussed openly at conventions and demonstrations, too.
Equestrians must embrace other sports’ technology to improve (H&H, 5 April). So could thermographic viewing resolve what is fair to horses, and what is not? Maybe technical tools could be put into the authorities’ hands to measure these things objectively and override some of the social media postings that are so open to subjective interpretation.
We miss you, Mike
I cannot close without shedding a tear over the late Mike Tucker, our daughter Pippa’s godfather. I once trained him — although he’d be the first to say he was untrainable. How I wish I dare tell the story of his first aid exam… We miss you, Mike.
Ref Horse & Hound; 26 April 2018