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Sunday, 10 August 2008

Armchair Dressage Commentary

As an avid equestrian fan I have been eagerly lapping up the Dressage at the Olympics though I feel for the riders having to endure the heat has equestrian eventing wear does not breathe well - the boots go up to your knees, the jodhpurs are thick and made of stretch material meaning there is never a high natural fibre component in them and then the shirts, jackets, gloves and hat ensure that no heat escapes at all. The discipline is intensely physical in itself, particularly dressage which I find the most physically demanding of the three phases due to the requirement to ride so precisely. The test at Beijing begins fairly intensely too so I would imagine some sweaty horses and riders.

It may look like the horse does all the work but it is very physical for the rider and takes incredible muscle toning throughout the legs and butt to convey the commands to the horse and to ensure that the horse listens, strong core muscles also help convey the aids and provide the centre of balance, strong shoulder, back arm and hand muscles are also required for when one's mount gets head strong. Getting back into riding and training for competitive equestrian events prior to my car accident did amazing things for my figure, within 3 months I lost 10 cm off my waist.

Yesterday was the first time I have watched Mark Todd and Gandalf ride in any detail - I was all set to attend Puhinui but things happened that weekend and I didn't get there. I have to say after watching the dressage I am not sure I get the hype over Gandalf. He definitely didn't fight his rider like Sugoi did for Heelan Tompkins at times but I would rather have Sugoi over Gandalf as a dressage horse any day of the week from what I saw despite the difference in the scores. Gandalf just didn't seem to have the elegance and beauty in his movements I look for in a dressage horse, I mean he performed his movements well, his flying changes and half passes were very nice, pretty precise and he certainly had the responsiveness to his rider one wants in a horse but there was a certain something lacking.

So far though, my pick of the NZ horses is Joe Meyer's Snip - watching his test was heart in mouth stuff at times - especially when he pulled off well deserved 8's. Snip has the elegance and panache that Sugoi hints at but also has the precision and execution of Gandalf. I was not surprised to see that Joe and Snip's performance bumped NZ up from 6th to 5th overall. (The title of that piece I have linked to here is just wrong - NZ City are dressage philistines - I defy you to watch Joe Meyer and Snip's test and say that dressage is boring)

Still, there are two more disciplines to pass in the three day event and Caroline Powell and Lenamore are supposed to be NZ's dressage dream team so I may need to revise my favourite NZ olympic horse choice after she rides.

Why do we have to buy a house.... I want to buy a top level eventing horse instead....

UPDATE: Caroline and Lenamore just rode - Lenamore is serious dressage drool material and performed very well but I still think Snip does it for me more as he looks to me like he can jump too - the cross country tomorrow will be telling.

1 comment:

  1. wow, so you guys are the wacky oprah-hating, insidiously insinuative uber-christians that troll on drudge forum as mandm?

    how embarassing for you!


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