Anna Ross: Chandeliers, men in uniform and wine *H&H VIP*

  • I really enjoyed the recent CDI in Saumur — it was a bit like “BD on the Loire” with so many Brits there. I’ve been to the spring show and thought the autumn one was smaller so was surprised to find 39 in the grand prix.

    The indoor school rode “hotter” than I expected, but there’s nothing to dislike about the place: an historic venue, chandeliers in the indoor school, men in uniform and great food and wine. The only problem was dragging the team out of the wine caves for long enough to watch the competition.

    I was pleased with Cassie (Die Callas) — it was exciting to get our first nines together for the trot half-passes and good to gain another 70% internationally. Our second place in the grand prix special won us more wine!

    I went to Saumur via a “practice show” in Holland. It’s a clever idea. You can ride your test with your trainer talking to you on an earpiece, the judge will give you a test sheet at the end as usual or can talk into your video camera as you go and you have time to repeat something if it goes wrong. And it’s cheap — I rode the grand prix and it cost only €15 (£11). It was like a who’s who of Dutch dressage with Anky van Grunsven, Imke Bartles and Glock riders there, and I think it would be a good idea for show centres in the UK to adopt. We already run them at my yard on a monthly basis.

    Bijou but successful

    Regarding the equestrian youth of today, I see from my fellow H&H columnists’ recent comments that Carl Hester thinks we are missing a trick, Graham Fletcher thinks they are being neglected and Mark Todd thinks they don’t have enough desire to win. To add my tuppenceworth, the pony team were fabulous with their gold medals but our juniors and young riders had a rough time at their European Championships.

    The “under-25 grand prixers”, however, represent us well, with Alex Hardwick the top-ranked Brit at number eight in the FEI world rankings. Ryan Todd and Bobby Hayler both rode at the very competitive Rotterdam CDI this year, with Ryan scoring over 70% and Bobby gaining from her international experiences to go on to a great result in the grand prix at the nationals. They are a bijou but successful group; hopefully more will join them.

    Bring on innovation

    I’m looking forward to hearing the news from this year’s Global Dressage Forum (26-27 Oct). Ideas from there are sometimes adopted by the FEI and if they are rules they can be picked up by BD and affect us all.

    I wish the rules on bitting would be reviewed to become more universal. We recently had an informal meeting at my yard to discuss the use of snaffle bits with a small port to allow the horses more tongue room. Several horses seemed more comfortable in these type of bits, which are allowed under Danish, Dutch, American and Canadian national dressage rules, but not UK or FEI.

    Innovation is good as it improves the sport and the welfare of the horses by causing transparency and discussion in our subjective sport. Tradition shouldn’t stifle this.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 15 October 2015