Yee-Haw! Ride ‘em, Cowboy! (and Cowgirl!) Since I have spoken of adrenaline pumping through one’s body in other articles I have been merrily producing for consumption here on Dressage Daily, it is time for me to admit that my own adrenaline level has been far above normal ever since Steffen rode to the top of the heap on Thursday. While I anticipated this upward curve to continue as activity ramps up for tonight’s Dressage Freestyle Final, I did not expect a run-up to that hormonal high.
I was wrong.
Four internationally known equestrian athletes – two from the world of dressage and two from show jumping – have just (Saturday afternoon) treated a couple of thousand people to an extremely stimulating experience in the confines of the Thomas and Mack Arena.
Rodrigo Pessoa and Will Simpson are old hands at bringing the crowd out of its seats as they hover over and then clear the most challenging of jumps. Anky Van Grunsven and Charlotte Bredhal-Baker are past masters at quickening the pulses of even the most jaded audiences at the Olympic Games. In the past hour, these four stars (assisted by the current World Champion of the National Reining Horse Association, Ann Fonck of Belgium and Rick Weaver, the President of the NRHA) not only had us on our feet calling for more, they appeared to be having a heckuva lot of fun themselves.
When the dust cleared – after the six contestants had each completed the appointed run of circles, spins, and slides – the U.S. team took an extremely boisterous victory gallop and, then, left the international foes literally to “eat their dust.” The international team gathered their spirits and followed the victors from the field of battle.
While no ribbons, trophies, nor Rolex watches were awarded at the end of the novelty event, I intend to convince the World Cup organizers to award Señor Pessoa an award for “Most Affable Fellow.” During the video introduction to the event (conducted by Boyd Polhamus, the “cowboy” announcer who has been at Brian O’Connors side throughout the dressage portion of this World Cup) went out of his way to accent Rodrigo’s stumbles in previous “novelty” events such as the “Show Jumpers versus Hunter Jumpers” of 2007 and the “Show Jumpers versus Barrel Racers” of 2004). When all of Boyd’s good-natured yarns had cleared the air, Rodrigo had the broadest of smiles upon his face.
Photo: Charlotte Bredahl
The camaraderie thus established only grew as the six riders made their passes around the arena. I hope you can make out the smiles on Rodrigo’s and Anky’s faces in the photos that accompany this article. If you cannot, I will gladly appear in any court of the land to attest to the fun that was had by all.