A Dressage Affaire to Remember – Highlights of an Inspiring Weekend
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Posted by Mary Phelps
One of the plot points on the American Dressage calendar each March is The Dressage Affaire, which in 2012 celebrates its eighth year fortified by the title sponsorship of Rancho Valencia, an all inclusive resort and private residence club in Rancho Sante Fe, California. The CDI Dressage event and Olympic qualifier is considered of value and the perfect venue to promote their launch in July of 2012 following a six-month property renovation. With the additional support of the equestrian world, Custom Saddlery, Eurofit, Akiko Yamazaki, and Leatherdale Farms, Keenan Productions & Events Inc, management was able made a great event greater. The backdrop for high performance dressage offered ringside dining and amenities as well as grandstand seating on Saturday evening for the Grand Prix Freestyle. There was a robust shopping area for popular vendors who reported a successful show and a team of longtime experienced volunteers all smartly dressed in a matching EuroFit ensemble they were able to keep. The weather was ideal, and local dining and hotel facilities make this one of California’s premier events for Dressage competitors, enthusiasts, and the local community, which does television coverage and news media. Those who came to see the new combination of Steffen Peters and Legolas, Guenter Seidel and Fandango, as well as the seasoned pairing of Jan Ebeling and the lovely mare Rafalca were not disappointed.
Under the watchful eye and supportive guidance of USEF Dressage Team Technical Advisor Anne Gribbons accompanied by USEF Managing Director and Chef d'Equipe Dressage, Eva Salomon, the picture of the near future involving the 2012 World Cup Final and the London Olympic Games became clearer. The international judges’ panel featured the newly appointed 5* Judge, Gustaf Svalling (SWE), and 4* Judges, Bo Jena (SWE) Lilo Fore and Jeanne McDonald from the USA, and Joan MaCartney (CAN). For several on the panel this is a show they save on their busy calendars each year. While the scores reflected the details of each ride performed, all the judges were happy at the end of each class having seen some world class dressage at it’s finest.
The lightly shown Legolas 92 the ten-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Laomedon x Furstin) and new mount for Steffen Peters and Akiko Yamasaki’s Four Winds Farm's was put to the test in the Grand Prix Freestyle, where performing to Ravel’s Olympic 2008 Freestyle music he upped his average score to a 78.225%. Warming up under the light generated outdoor arena then entering the electric atmosphere of a packed house the young gelding proved to the closely scoring judges’ panel and USEF Team Advisor Anne Gribbons, that Legolas is not only a horse for the future but a cushion for Peters if "God forbid, anything should happen to Ravel in this Olympic year." Gribbons knows the challenges facing the US Dressage Team for the Olympic Games, which under the new Olympic criteria only allows the USA and countries other than Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain three members.
Swedish judge Bo Jena who based his lowest score of the panel for the Grand Prix for the Freestyle from the day before was the highest for the Freestyle at 81.25%. After the Grand Prix Jena commented on the test, “World Class Horse!” while pointing out the parts of the test which resulted in his technical view from C. With a thrilling piaffe-passage movement and transitions as one of their strong suits Jena saw improvement in the Freestyle, as well as the straightness in the flying changes getting better with each outing. The strength from the hind end in the piaffe /passage movements clearly defined the power which is just beginning to come to light under the brilliant tutelage of Team Peters, the crew which keeps Steffen’s horses tuned and fueled like a NASCAR operation.
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