All That Glitters Is Dressage at the The 21st Manfred Swarovski Memorial Tournament CDI4* 2015

Thursday, July 2, 2015
Posted by Anne Gribbons


Named for Evelyn Haim Swarovski's father who would have been 100 years old this July 15, CDI Schindlhof is the home of the famous Swarovski Crystal empire is nestled at the foot of the Austrian Alps. The family plays host to some of the finest dressage riders and horses, with hospitality, performances, and sparkling awards, blankets, and gift presented to officials adorned with the glittering Swarovski crystals. Anne Gribbons, and "O" judge, the highest level one can achieve in dressage was there as judge and gives DressageDaily a glimpse into the magic of her week in Austria.

Michael Eilberg and Woodlander Farouche
Michael Eilberg and Woodlander Farouche

There are many dressage shows around the world which are impressive in size and organization, but the most beautiful  show in the universe takes place in Fritzens, Austria at the stable belonging to Klaus and Evelyn Haim- Swarovski. I have had the privilege to attend this unique event  twice as coach and twice as judge , and every time is as uplifting and exciting as the last. The main arena is nestled between lush meadows and majestic alps which serve as background to the performances of some of the best riders and horses every season, since the hospitality , generosity and attention to detail is well known and draws the elite riders.

This year, both Britain  and Germany had a strong presence with Michael Eilberg on several horses (his mare Woodlander Farouche in the small tour was pretty spectacular!)

Anne Gribbons presents the third place ribbon to Jennifer Hoffman (USA)
Anne Gribbons presents the third place ribbon to Jennifer Hoffman (USA)

Isabell Werth and Dorothee Schneider who seems to produce new horses every season. Nathalie Sayn- Wittgenstein from Denmark brought a new mare of their own breeding and Ulla Salzgeber introduced a young chestnut in the Prix St Georges. Victoria Max- Theurer, Austria, was victorious in the Big Tour, but only slightly ahead of Isabell who as usual pulled out every stop in the freestyle with true extended trots and canters of the kind we rarely get treated to these days.

The USA was nicely represented by Jennifer Hoffmann on Florentinus V who captured third place in Intermediare 1.

In addition to keen competition, the hospitality and entertainment at Schindlhof is second to none. During lunch break each day we enjoyed the liberty training of Jean- Francois Pignon who directs his gray team of horses  to do a number of amusing and difficult " tricks" without him ever uttering a word.

Saturday evening competitors, officials and friends of the family ( about 500 or so!) were treated to a concert in the indoor hall with a full orchestra and singing by opera star Jenny Lind. Plus dinner and dancing to follow.

This is all so unique because of the abundant enthusiasm and generosity of the Haims , the intimate atmosphere and gorgeous setting of  the show. When the freestyles music plays and the horses "dance " it is  truly a scene from the Sound of Music .

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Video - Victoria Max-Theurer and Augustin OLD freestyle victory ride