I began my day at the Para Dressage and it only took the first rider entering the ring for me to be heartened by this group of riders. Angelika Dr Trabert (GER) rode Ariva-Avanti to a score of 68.38%. What was heartwarming about that was that this rider's disability is that she has no legs. She negotiated a smooth, wonderful dressage ride on a horse that was boasting kindness and brilliance. For that matter, the horses that took the many Para riders around were truly spectacular.
Angelika was competing as part of the Team and this was a first for any World Equestrian Games to have Para as part of it.
In addition to Para, week two of WEG is focusing on Show Jumping, Vaulting and Driving. In between there are a number of demonstrations and among those are the Hunters. Each day one of the top Hunter Riders in the nation does a Hunter demonstration and autograph session. The first one had over 1000 people watching; a nice boost for the hunters who rarely have a crowd watching them.
While many of the other sports do get spectators, the Hunters generally don't and part of that has to do with understanding what the judges are looking for. When you don't understand then it's like watching chess and not knowing how to play the game. So for the Hunters these demonstrations are a great opportunity to showcase the sport.
As I am sitting here writing this I am reminded of one more thing that has been a surprise throughout this event, the mornings and evenings are so cold. I am truly freezing watching the Para in the old indoor arena. For some reason I never anticipated it could be this cold. Generally during the day when the sun comes out it can get quite hot when the clouds don't hide the sun but those mornings and evenings are chilly.
I only had an hour to watch Para as I needed to be back to the main stadium to watch the jumpers go. But I had time to watch a number of wonderful Para dressage rides. When Jonathan Wentz from the U.S. finished his ride on NTEC Richter Scale his face beamed and he gave his horse a hearty patting. As he left the arena you could hear his support team screaming his name. No matter that he had the lowest score so far, for Jonathan it was just about the ride and getting it done (62.762).
There were lots of other riders and yet none of them had their disability as clearly defined as the first rider. Some had no use of their legs or hands and had to use a whip to help guide their horses. No matter what the disability, what a great opportunity for these riders to also be showcased.
Jumpers Ride for Their Teams
I thought I would do a combination and focus on things that caught my attention. When Cash ridden by Mariann Hugyecz (HUN) put in a huge jump at the water the crowd responded with amazement. Unfortunately, two fences later when the horse put in another huge jump Mariann was catapulted to the ground. She was eliminated which also meant that Hungary no longer had a team.
Jumpers Ride for Their Teams
The crowd was very vocal throughout the day and responded differently depending on the situation and the country, which showed they were paying attention. A number of riders went around the course clear only to knock a rail at the last fence and the crowd would murmur their support.
However, when the Christian Santis aboard Fanatico De Huincul from Chile downed that last fence after it appeared he was home free the crowd was clearly disappointed for the rider.
Their disappointment probably stemmed from the fact that the rider right before, Daisuke Fukushima riding Weldon D’05 from Japan, went clear, they were hoping the Chilean rider would to the same. Neither of these countries has been terribly successful in the past, but the times they are a changing.
In the press conference at the end of the day, Rodrigo Pessoa commented about the fact that the countries that were once considered the weaker countries are now getting stronger and so it really is a fight t the finish.
There were others who rose to the top. For instance, Ali Al Rumaihi and Ambiente 55 from Qatar opted to not worry so much about the time but rather to cautiously ride the course and as a result the rails stayed up and he just had three time faults.
Not every underdog was having a lucky day. The team from Poland wasn't having much luck having as much as 22 faults with (Piotr Sawicki and Caballus Z).
Those lesser known countries continued to surprise the audience and when they did they were rewarded with cheers from the crowd. KSA's Abdullah Al Sharbatly riding Seldana Di Campalto and Argentina's Jose Maria LaRocca aboard Con Air both received "good go" applause from the attentive crowd. Then the Ukraine rider went clear - Katharina Offel and La Bomba. Japan would also earn that applause later in the day when Taizo Sugitani and Avenzio 3 went clear.
The youngest show jumping rider to compete was Ahamd Saber Hamcho riding Wonderboy III. They finished on 4 faults.
Some things you might be interested in knowing about. The timing of the class is done with an automatic timer that gets set off when the rider crosses the start and finish timers but as a backup it is also done manually. Someone with a flag holds it up in the air once the whistle is blown signalling that the rider has 45 seconds to cross the timer. Once they do, the flag is drops to alert the person timing when to start and stop the stopwatch.
When a rider goes into the ring - his support team has an area they can stand near the ingate and you'll watch them all crowd in their watching in hopeful anticipation. A good go always receives great applause not only from their support team but from the crowd and even a mediocre performance is rewarded with cheers or support.
I just thought I'd toss in a few tid bits. Make sure you take some time to read the full reports on what happened today in show jumping but I'll condense it a bit here. Lauren Hough was first to go on Quick Study for the team and unfortunately also the very first rider in the ring. They just barely touched one of the fences and as luck would have it this time that was just enough for the rail to fall.
Mario Deslauriers was next in and after putting in a totally clear go on the first day, today was different and two rails fell for 8 faults. Laura Kraut on her Gold Medal Olympic mount Cedric would also down one rail for four.
But my sadest moment of the day was when Sapphire ridden by McLain Ward also downed a rail. This mare rarely, if ever, drops a rail and it had to happen today.
Nevertheless, our team is standing in the Bronze Medal position and already working on the plan for tomorrow when the ride over the same course again but this time without a water jump and with a few adjustments here and there.
In the press conference, Conrad explained how designing the courses has a lot to do with widdling down the lesser riders safely. So, the course grows progressively. Since the next round will be split with the Consolation Class happening during the day and the teams and top 15 individual riders going at night you can bet the evening course will be a bit more testing than what the riders during the day will have to jump. It's all in the technical aspects of the course.
Kersten Klophaus, the person overseeing Vaulting, has given me another update since Vaulting starts on Thursday. So, take it away Kersten--
Yesterday (Monday) welcome of the judges and technical delegate. During lunch Jan Weber and I explained what’s going on gave our impressions and experience from the first week of WEG and provided information for the Horse Inspection.
In the afternoon there was a welcome for the Chef d'Equipes with wine, cheese etc. Than a presentation with all information the nations need.
In the evening we had a production meeting with broadcast, announcer, WEG-producer, music guy. What happens in the circle during competition? Where are camera guys allowed to go? What we want presented on the score board? How much time do we have for each competitor? What is interesting or important? It was a very good meeting with experienced people! After this I had a very good meeting for the presenting of the sport in the arena and on broadcast!
Than we had a meeting with the Chief Steward Vaulting about the Horse Inspection: how to organize, how many stewards and volunteers do we need and lists for athletes and officials. I finished at 9:00 p.m.
Today (Tuesday) we had the horse inspection. It was a cold morning but the sun helped keep us warm. Only two horses were spun and the inspection went well.
After that we spent some time chatting with the athletes and volunteers in the barns and the arena. Details with Gerd from Otto-Footing: What to do with the footing to get the best? Water, dragging, grading - how much time is necessary? Do we have the time in the afternoon between training?
The draw with score office, TD and President of the GJ took place. They are a good team for all areas and tasks! Makes working easy for me! We also welcomed our new volunteers. After the draw we had a meeting with the scribes so that the Judges could let them know what to do.
Volunteers and Stewards are very helpful and everywhere when necessary.
Wednesday first competition - all are looking forward to this!
Thank you Kersten! His updates give you a real sense of all the happens behind the scenes. Well, Wednesday is going to be busy with the final team show jumping class going at night. During the day I’ll be covering Vaulting. And then Show Jumping. Hopefully I’ll be able to fit some Para Dressage in between.
Time to call it a night. Email me - I'd love to hear from you - firstname.lastname@example.org.