Watching the first half of the Grand Prix Team Dressage today had me focused on things that would not be at the top of most of the journalist’s lists. It was the first day of competition at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy and Dressage, Reining and Para-Dressage were happening all at the same time.
So, for those of us attempting to cover all the disciplines you had to pick your destination. I chose Dressage.
So, what was I noticing? I watched the people in the stands to see who had the most flags waving when their riders came out. Generally, it was those with the lower scores who not only came out of the arena all smiles but their cheering squad was equally as thrilled. I’m sure the riders were saying to themselves, “I did it. I competed in a World Equestrian Games.”
Then there was the Swiss rider who after he completed his round took off his hat where he’d hidden a square flag, and wave it he did. That same rider had his lanier bouncing around his neck for his entire ride yet never let it distract him.
Then later in the day when another rider competed I watched a man in the stands with his country’s flag just barely waving it. I guess that was his level of enthusiasm.
I also noticed that when Sweden’s Minna Telde was leaving the arena after a good ride but with one major problem in the piaffe (her horse decided he didn’t want to do them) she clearly showed her disappointment and yet her score was in the 70s. It made me think back to those riders who had gotten scores in the 50s but were still over the moon after their rides.
There was also the girls cleaning the windows of the judge’s stands and the men raking the sand to keep it as smooth as possible despite the rain.
And what about those flag bearers who quietly or wildly waved their flags in honor of their riders. For some there was only a flag or two but for others a sea of voices could be heard along with the waving of their country’s flag.
And finally near the end of the day when Tatiana Dorofeeva rode Kartsevo Upperville into the arena it was clear the horse was quite scared. By the end of the ride he was neighing loudly. She eventually decided to leave the arena before finishing her ride but not before bowing her head to the judges. As she departed, the crowd gave her the warmest cheer.
It was a rainy day that caused some problems but win or lose it really didn’t matter because every horse there had a chance to strut their stuff no matter what the level. It was truly an amazing first day with more to come.