Delights and Surprises from Aachen CHIO

6 years ago ilse Comments Off on Delights and Surprises from Aachen CHIO
Damon Hill and Helen Langehanenberg and their trot extension that scored multiple 9's over three days of competition © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Damon Hill and Helen Langehanenberg and their trot extension that scored multiple 9s over three days of competition. © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

By ILSE SCHWARZ

AACHEN, Germany, July 1–Helen Langehanenberg and the stallion Damon Hill NRW (Donnerhall x Rubinstein) are a true delight to watch. The suppleness, power, light footedness and sheer expression in all gaits are evident, to a certain extent, when you watch this combination on video.  What doesn’t translate to video is his presence and sheer self confidence. He knows he is a bit special, and has found a perfect match in his rider. Despite his relatively small stature, he is perfectly matched with his diminutive rider and they fill the arena.

All three gaits are of high quality, the elasticity of this horse is simply remarkable. It is also reassuring to note that Damon Hill was born in the year 2000, so he is not a young prodigy who is going to burn out. In case you didn’t guess, I cannot say enough good about them!

Total balance and confidence in he pirouette with a beautiful contact on the rein ©Ilse Schwarz dressage-news.com
Total balance and confidence in he pirouette with a beautiful contact on the rein © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

 

As an aside, I have to say I was pretty impressed by Helen’s hair under her top hat. If she also does this herself then she truly is my hero!

A complicated system of braids. What I want to know is "where has she tucked the ends?" ©Ilse Schwarz dressage-news.com
A complicated system of braids. What I want to know is “where has she tucked the ends?” © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

Mikaela Lindh of Finland and her Danish gelding Skovlunds Mas Guapo (Master x Cannon Row xx) smiled through the majority of her test. and in doing so totally won the hearts of the German crowd. She became even more endearing when she had to share her limelight with a pigeon who was totally unconcerned about the proximity of her horse. They performed a cross-species pas de deux during the start of her trot half pass and was totally delighted with her horse at the end of her test.

Sheer delight from Mikaela Lindh at the end of her ride. Her performance scored 71.447% and 12th place ©Ken Braddick dressage-news.com
Sheer delight from Mikaela Lindh at the end of her ride. Her performance scored 71.447 per cent and 12th place © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The only “10” that I saw handed out during the entire competition went to a series of one-tempi flying changes from Severo Jesus Jurado Lopez riding for Spain on the KWPN gelding Numberto (Negro x Ahorn) during the CDIO Grand Prix. They were producing a solid harmonious test, accurate,  getting the job done but not too exciting. Then came the two tempis and the whole crowd sat up a little. In the Dressage stadium at Aachen, you can always tell when something significant has happened…there is a murmur that sort of spreads around the 5,000 or so spectators. This happens when something exceptionally good or bad happens. Then they did their line of one tempis. Enormous, not just in ground cover but also in the height off the ground. At the end of the line there was quite the stirring by the crowd, a glance down at the running scores gave the reason, the judge at E, Mrs. Francis Verbeek-van-Roolj, had scored these changes with a 10.

Numberto gains tremendous lift during each stride of his tempi changes. The quality of the changes far surpassing the basic quality of his canter ©Ilse Schwarz dressage-news.com
Numberto gains tremendous lift during each stride of his tempi changes. The quality of the changes far surpassing the basic quality of his canter. © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

I must confess to being very happily surprised at the skill level of the riders in the Under 25 Grand Prix division.  I know some countries that would cheerfully take several of these youngsters into their teams right now. The first two riders, Caroline Roffman of the USA on Sagacious (by Welt Hit II x Cocktail) and Nanna Skodborg Merrald and Millibar (by Milan x Liberty Dane) from Denmark rode with such beautiful lightness and elegance.

Caroline Roffman rides with maturity and elegance for success at the biggest competition of her career. ©Ilse Schwarz dressage-news.com
Caroline Roffman rides with maturity and elegance for success at the biggest competition of her career. © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

Continuing with riders from the USA, it has been a wonderful journey, to date,  watching the development of Legolas (Laomedon x Florestan II) with Steffen Peters. Every time this combination goes down the centerline there are palpable improvements in the suppleness, expression and basic quality of the gaits. Legolas is still very young in his career and he has now placed in every class at Aachen, culminating with 78.675 per cent and sixth place in the freestyle. What a way to start a career! It will be exciting to watch the continuing growth of this partnership.

Steffen Peters and Legolas enjoy the prizegiving following the CDIO freestyle. Steffen is also debuting clothing from his new sponsor, © Ilse Schwarz dressage-news.com
Steffen Peters and Legolas enjoy the prizegiving following the CDIO freestyle. Steffen is also debuting clothing from his new sponsor, Cavalleria Toscana. © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com