The week after our return from the highlight of our 2016 Euro Tour, I continue to organize and share photos from the Manfred Swarovski Dressage Tournament. Enjoy this photo tour of some of the highlight of our three magical days in Austria. When I visited International Dressage Judge and FEI Competitor Anne Gribbons last winter at her farm in Chuliota Florida, I asked her to answer one question, without thought. "What is your favorite show." There was not even a second's hesitation, "Fritzens", she said. More specifically the Manfred Swarovski Dressage Tournament at the beautiful Schindlhof farm owned by the famed Swarovski family. Klaus Haim and Evelyn Haim Swarovski were our gracious hosts. From making initial plans organizing a hotel and media credentials, to our early arrival we felt welcome and our presence as media appreciated.
It was Klaus Haim who was the first person we saw when we arrived the day of the jog, working along his incredible staff, always cheerful and accommodating. In fact our host, the key principal in one of the largest privately companies in the world, was on hand to pick up horse poop in the arena in between rides.
When in Rotterdam the week before, I told Guenter Seidel we were headed there, and he responded with an aching look in his eyes. "I want to go too," he said. Seidel has fond memories of attending "Fritzens" the town where the Swarovski Schindlhof farm and location of the Manfred Swarovski Dressage Tournament. Seidel won the Manfred Swarovski Trophy in 2001 with Nikolaus and again in 2010 with U II. In fact most riders will tell you it is one of their favorite shows, and we quickly experienced why. It is a destination where families and spouses join competitors, judges, coaches. It is a Tyrolian weekend where the Haim-Swarovski family are joined by extended family and friends from throughout Europe who come for the Saturday evening gayla followed by the Sunday Finale of classes and equine performance.
Surrounded by the towering mystical mountains of Tirol, the view was in constant motion with clouds, and sunlight highlighting the snow capped peaks overlooking the Alpine arena. The ribbons were all adorned in Swarovski sparkle, and those winning first place did their victory round in their blanket glittering in the bejeweled crystals of the famed family founded in 1895.
Participants in the competition were treated to a personally guided tour of the museum, Swarovski Crystal Worlds in the nearby town of Wattens, Austria where the Swarovski company which also includes Swarovski Optik, thrives. A tour of multi media art forms were carefully explained, and then ended in the massive store where multiple sales along with an additional 20% off designated by our wristbands. I had saved my spending money for this phase of our 3 week Euro Tour, and got a lot of Christmas shopping done.
"There were three incredible days here with us at Schindlhof with sporting performances and many moving moments", said host Klaus Haim 22 Manfred Swarovski Memorial Tournament at Schindlhof. "The fact that Germany has brought the best dressage team in the world with national coach Monica Theodorescu and 3 Olympic riders Isabell Werth, Dorothee Schneider and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl so close to the Olympics as our guests was not to be overestimated."
Isabell Werth, with their world-class performances earned in the list of winners of the Manfred Swarovski Challenge Trophy with Olympic candidate Emilio, sprinkled the hosts Klaus and Evelyn Haim-Swarovski with praise. "A wonderful tournament, super family and top sports, here both are united."
The 6 Olympic judges occupied the judges' panel an Schindlhof and enjoyed the Saturday night gayla, where Germany once again was the big winner of the day, in soccer. The game was the entertainment on the large screen, with Team Germany roaring at every goal. In attendance was Ullrich and Bianca Kasselmann leaders in equestrian sport who had encouraged the family Swarovski to establish their show in the alps as a major European competition. "This tournament would not exist without the encouragement of Ulli and Bianca more than 20 years ago, " said Haim, "to grow from a small national tournament to make it a large international event. Unbelievable how that has established itself over the years!"
Sunday's finale included the Grand Prix Special, Freestyle, the famous Hat contest and various performances by world class Austrian Driver Isidor Weber, world champion vaulting, and the Para Freestyle, the selection for the Austrian Para Olympic Team.
Perfect weather blessed the three days as the mountains played a leading role as backdrop to an event which attracted some of the finest dressage horses in Europe.
As we experienced this weekend, I continue to recognized how blessed our sport is with the support and passion of families like Swarovski, and how much it is appreciated by all involved. Thank you for creating the experience of dressage at it's finest in the arena it deserves.
We only just began to touch the surface in our exploration of a region so breathtaking at every turn in the road, and have vowed to return, hoping some family and friends can join us next time.
Enjoy the photo tour, and follow more coverage and photos at the tag for Schindlhof CDI 4*.