This year for the first time the World Championships of Young Dressage Horses took place in Ermelo in the Netherlands. Two Hanoverians represented the US in the category of 6-year-old Dressage Horses: The Lord Laurie/His Highness-son Lucky Strike, presented by Endel Ots and the Silberschmied/Boss-descendent Silberpfeil with David Wightman.
Lots of us have already followed Lucky Strike and Endel during last year’s competition when they started in the field of the five year olds at the facilities of the Hannoveraner Verband in Verden. Here they achieved the 15th rank in the qualification round with a total score of 8.6, slightly missing the final. The next day, in the small final they improved to an 8.86, leading them to rank two and therewith securing the ticket to the final, where they ended with an 8.1 and rank 11 in a strong international field.
This year, they took the journey again, this time with destination Ermelo. Endel had prepared himself for this task with the help of Christine Traurig before he left for Germany with David Wightman and Christine to get the final polishing from Johann Hinnemann, with whom the US-Team spent the last weeks leading up to the show in Holland. This way the horses had some time to adjust and train locally after the long flight and the time change before going to the actual show grounds.
David Wightman, husband of Kathleen Raine, already had some tradition with Johann Hinnemann, who had had prepared Kathleen as well as Christine Traurig themselves for some of their big shows. Endel met Joe Hinnemann, as the US Team calls the German Trainer, during a symposium in the US.
The first test went a little bit unfortunate for both riders. Lucky strike got slightly tensed; also David and Silberpfeil had some small mistakes. “It was really a pity that both horses presented themselves below their possibilities the first day.”, so coach Christine Traurig. “This show is taking place on a very high level; here even small mistakes can cause you significant loss of points. The quality of all horses and riders is very high. And we may not forget, these are all young horses. Therefore the daily form is very crucial. They are also lacking the routine to perform in such a setting.”
However, given both are young horses, the important thing to look at is not only the performance on one day, especially a first day on a big show where the surroundings had some more influence than we had hoped for. The important thing is to see how the horses and riders cope with it to the next day and the next test. Meaning whether they get shy and scared, or they adapt to the environment and improve their performance. And it was the latter. The next day, in the small final, both pairs significantly improved, reaching a final score of 75.6% and therewith ending up on a respectable rank 12.
The riders Endel Ots and Divid Wightman, as well as US National Coach for Young Dressage Horses Christine Traurig are satisfied with the performance in the small final. They have been able to improve with their second time in the arena and the horses have shown more confidence and thus significant learnings. We should keep in mind that this is only one step in the development of these two future dressage hopes. In my opinion, it strikes me how constant the performance of both horse and rider pairs has been over the past years, with regular representation on National, and for Lucky Strike already International Championships and a smooth development over the levels for both horses. “We received some good and very on the point comments from the judges today, expressing the strengths, as well as some areas of improvement for both horses. That is what we will take home and what we will work on over the next year to prepare the horses for their future tasks,” so Christine.
Having seen the work of the US-Team, I am very confident that we will keep seeing these horses in the big arena. “Just as last year, the World Championships for Young Dressage Horses have been an amazing time and important experience for me as well as for Lucky Strike”, says Endel. “The atmosphere was amazing and Lucky and I both need to gain experience in these settings.” Christine wishes that more US-Riders would have the possibility to attend shows like these. “We need to develop our young riders as well as the young horses”, both of which are tasks at heart for Christine, who also helped to establish the Hannoveraner Verband Rider-Exchange Program that is piloting this autumn.
For now, the team is traveling back to the US where the next big show is already coming close: The last week of August we are hoping to see all of them again for the National Young Horse Championships in Chicago Lamplight, the US pendant to the German "Bundeschampionate".