There are just three nine-year-old horses competing at this week’s European Dressage Championships in Hagen, Germany (7-11 September), but one has stood head and shoulders above the rest – and above many far more experienced horses than him too. That horse is Marshall-Bell, the mount of Denmark’s equally promising Daniel Bachmann Andersen.
By Blue Hors Don Romantic and owned by Cov Aps, Marshall-Bell posted an impressive score of 76.36% on his team debut, which helped secure the Danish team a bronze medal, and left him in individual eighth.
“My feeling overall was that I was asking for just what I could today – not more, not less – it was just on the limit where I can be right now with a nine-year-old horse,” explains 31-year-old Daniel. “I did not want to apply more pressure, because actually it’s very, very early for nine-year-old horse to go to a championship, but I think if you do it in the right way – don’t overdo it – then that is best for the horse.”
Daniel explains he didn’t overdo things in today’s warm-up either.
“I did one one single piaffe in the warm-up because I trust him – I know he can do it. I tried to not over-tire him and tried to make him think it’s fun in there,” he says. “I know the places where he is still lacking a bit of strength, and in those places I just asked for a little less. In the places where I know he can really get good scores, like in the changes and the piaffe/passage, I rode for it.”
Like many of the younger horses competing at these European Dressage Championships, the gelding hasn’t had much exposure to crowds.
“That was Marshall-Bell’s first time with a crowd in his life because the shows he has been going to have been without them due to Corona, and so he’s never been in this kind of atmosphere,” says Daniel. “He’s just so cool – he was a bit excited in the small arena outside before we went in, so I thought ‘OK, this is going to be exciting and I just have to keep help him through in there and tell him it’s alright’. But the moment I passed through the gate into the arena, it felt his shoulders relaxed and he went, ‘OK, this is fine’, and it was really impressive – I was really so proud of him.”
During their test, Daniel could be seen patting Marshall-Bell several times: “I was patting him because I was so proud of what he gave me in there.”
Daniel says he was fairly confident going into the arena today following some great recent training sessions.
“We had a boot camp recently where he was super and he also had a really good down period where I just rode him in the forest,” he explains. “Then for most of the days he has been here, he’s been lovely. Yesterday was my first real training session as the other days he has been just hacking out. Then yesterday I was training and he was like, ‘OK, we can do this, I’m ready and I know what I’m doing’. And I felt like even though he is a young horse, I could not have had a better preparation for this.”
Daniel worked as a rider for the famous Blue Hors Stud until Covid hit last year and he decided to set up his own yard.
“Setting up on my own has been an amazing time and a great learning period,” he says. “I was so grateful for my time working at Blue Hors for so many years and for that opportunity to keep building my name and to have that experience that I bring into the ring now on my own. Obviously it has been different, but in a very nice way. I am lucky to have a stable full of good horses and so we can keep going on and I’m very thrilled and proud of what I’ve achieved.”
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