The Tales Behind the Tails

The Tales Behind the Tails

Getting to Know the Dressage Riders & Their Horses

Article and Photos by Diana DeRosa

August 23, 2004 – Athens Greece – It was Grand Prix Special day here in Athens Greece and it certainly was a special day for our American riders. While none of the three U.S. riders who went in the Special made it to the top three, they all qualified for the Freestyle when the Individual Medals will be contested.

I spoke to all our dressage riders but I also spoke to a number of other riders; not necessarily about their ride but more to find out some interesting bits and pieces about their horses.

The first rider to compete was Russian Alexandra Korelova on Balagur who was not able to stop and talk … because she has no groom.

But a few riders later, Austria’s Nina Stadlinger on Egalite, her Westfalen gelding talked about her being in this Olympics as “wonderful. It’s a feeling you can’t describe. I always tried to imagine what it would be like. It’s the history of the Olympics which makes it so exceptional.” She and her mount have been together for seven years. She says that this had always been her dream and now it’s come true.

When asked what Egalite is like to ride, Stadlinger commented, “He’s very sensitive and he always wants to do the best. Sometimes he’s a bit nervous but today he was concentrating.” They achieved the lowest score of the day (66.148%).

France’s Karen Tebar rides Falada M. Her 13-year-old mare is a “a little bit full blooded.” Tebar recalls her horse’s younger days when she would land on the ground more times than she cares to remember. Apparently, if she didn’t like what the rider was asking of her “Falada would go down in front and buck very very high behind.”

But now Tebar says, “she has a big personality and when she decides everything is okay, she does okay for me. She was afraid today in the ring (it was very windy). She does not like the clapping.” Out of the 25 horses who qualified and competed in the Special Tebar is in the 21st position going into the Freestyle (67.699%).

Britain’s Richard Davison rode Ballaseyr Royale, a Danish Warmblood mare. He was very unhappy with his performance after his Grand Prix Special. “I think I could have ridden a lot better. I had a couple of expensive mistakes in the extended. Otherwise I was pleased. I just feel like shooting myself because I didn’t ride very well. She was alright, I could have been better.”

Davison felt his mare did fine but was “a little bit tired.” When asked what she’s like he commented, “She’s got a lovely personality. She’s a real mare – ery strong minded. She gives you everything she’s got. She’s a trier.”

Around the stable Royale is “lovely. She likes people watching. She loves to check them out.” Before finishing our chat Davison added, “It’s been great, but like anything else, it’s the team you have around you.” He also commented about how the horse park is “out of this world and everybody’s been so great.” Plus, “the arena is very friendly.”

Davison is in the 22nd position after the first two dressage tests (67.351%).

Denmark’s Jon Pedersen rode a Hanoverial gelding named Esprit de Valdemar. After his ride he was satisfied. “I had a few mistakes in my one tempis and the extended trot but I think it was me.” Esprit is sensitive “especially with he spectators, not so much what is going on but he gets distracted.”

He’s had his gelding since he was three years old. They finished 19th (69.080%). She is one of the few horses out of Esprit. But nowadays Esprit is wonderful to be around. “He has a nice character in the stables. He is like a child and likes the attention.” At 18 years old he’s also the oldest horse in the Olympics. This is Pedersen’s second Olympics. He ended up 13th overall in Sydney.

The Tales Behind the Tails

Getting to Know the Dressage Riders & Their Horses

Austria’s Victoria Max-Theurer rides Falcao, an 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding. After coming out of the Grand Prix Special she was content. “I had a small mistake for the two tempis but it was not a big mistake.” Victoria was pleasantly surprised that despite the heat her horse was really fresh.”

She was quick to say in response to my question of is he easy to ride that the answer was “no. He looks easy but he is not. Sometimes he’s a bit pulling. And since you need the highest collection I have to work with it.”

Around the stable Falcao “loves touching everybody. He likes attention and kisses.” Victoria at 18 is the youngest rider and she was quite proud of her achievements. “It feels really good and I had two really good tests. But dressage is a sport where you have to get really really good tests over a long period before they believe it is a good horse and rider.” She placed 20th after the Grand Prix Special (68.753%).

Denmark’s Andreas Helgstrand was on Cavan, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding. Overall he was “happy” with his ride. “Some things could be better but most of it was okay.” He added that it was “really nice in the arena.”

Helgstrand said that Cavan is “easy to ride. He knows all the things.” Especially since this was only his fifth Grand Prix. And this was Helgstrand’s first Olympic Games. “I still have to learn a lot from him. Lars Petersen rode him before.

Around the stable Cavan likes attention. They stand in 10th after the Special (71.147%).

The Tales Behind the Tails

Getting to Know the Dressage Riders & Their Horses

Our very own Guenter Seidel riding Aragon was pleased with his round saying “He got better and better as he went. Overall I thought it was a good test. He had problems in the piaffe which Guenter explained that Aragon reacted to the wind and got tight in his back. Those of us watching noticed his tail swishing and Guenter explained that when he gets tight in the back he starts swishing his tail. He finished 14th in the standings (70.270%).

U.S. Teammate Robert Dover and Kennedy were spectacular and Dover explained that “everyday I learn from my horse how much I have in him.” He went on to say that in the Grand Prix he’d done two days earlier he overschooled his horse not knowing what to expect and then realized he didn’t have as much horse as he wanted in the ring. So this time he just walked around a bit. And it paid off when he finished 6th overall (72.833%).

Finally our third team member went in and showed that our dressage team is consistently strong. Debbie McDonald rode Brentina to a wonderful ride and stood 4th overall (74.067%). Debbie explained that she had a couple of bobbles in the transitions but not bad. She further added, “She’s not as big a mover as some of the other horses but we try to show what we can do. Debbie added that she’s got one more day and “I’m not going down without a fight.

So, there you have it. The scores I included above are the combined total score after completing the first two Dressage Tests: The Individual Grand Prix First Qualifier and the Grand Prix Special. There’s other reports on this site that will give you the complete report.

In the meantime, feel free to email me with your questions or comments. Put the words Horsesdaily in the subject line and email