Aachen 2016: Prix St Georges and more as seen by Ilse Schwarz

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By ILSE SCHWARZ

British combination Michael Eilberg and Woodlander Farouche share a moment in the very British-style drizzle in Aachen ©Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
British combination Michael Eilberg and Woodlander Farouche share a moment in the very British-style drizzle in Aachen ©Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

AACHEN, Germany, July 13, 2016—Wonderful, glorious Aachen. I have missed attending the last couple of years so I am especially excited to be here in this Olympic year. However, I must confess that my excitement is not simply equine related as a quick check of the weather shows that the first 4 days are forecast to be that delightful rainy, cool, damp typical German weather. When I say delightful there is no sarcasm intended. I CAN’T wait. Florida is in the middle of a particularly brutal stretch of summer with daytime temps rising to a heat index of near 100F (39C) by 9am and as you can imagine it only gets worse from there. With a full stable of horses and no indoor arena…..you get where I am going with this!!

The delightfully rainy, damp skies of Aachen 2016 © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
The delightfully rainy, damp skies of Aachen 2016 © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

I arrived at the Soers showgrounds to a delightful 68F (19C), proceeded to run into half the residents of Wellington, we talked about the weather some (such is the focus of riders who are resident in South Florida summers), and then it was on to watch some of the schooling the day before competition began. It seems the warm up was all about the snaffle bridle. German Nations Cup members, Cosmo and Sönke Rothenberger and Desperados and Kristina Sprehe were in snaffle bridles. This is the first time I have seen the nine year old Cosmo live. It is like watching the most elastic of rubber bands.Cosmo is bred on  pure jumping lines (Van Gogh x Fruhling / Landjonker) and a delicious mix of youth,(Sönke himself is only 21 years old), power and elasticity. The British combination Michael Eilberg and Woodlander Farouche were also part of the snaffle crew. After just a few moments of watching three arenas of horses and riders schooling I sighed an inner smile of contentment, picked up my camera and started simply enjoying and photographing the joy of the sport. Obviously there were riders that were still producing expression through tension, and some horses that reminded me that we all have to start somewhere, but during the time I was at the schooling arenas, this was a clear minority.

Sönke Rothenberger and Cosmo under the watchful eye of his father Sven Rothenberger © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Sönke Rothenberger and Cosmo under the watchful eye of his father Sven Rothenberger © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Kristina Sprehe and Desperados FRH enjoying schooling in a snaffle © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Kristina Sprehe and Desperados FRH enjoying schooling in a snaffle © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

The standout horse for me was wonder mare Woodlander Farouche (Furst Heinrich x Dimaggio), a chestnut mare I fell in love with the first time I saw her in Verden, Germany, 2011 when she won the five year old division at the Young Horse World Championships. She also won the six year old Championship in 2012 with a near perfect score. CHIO Aachen 2016 is keeping my love affair with this mare decidedly alive and well. The mare looks all grown up, and despite having shown in Hartbury last weekend, is fresh and decidedly feisty, with some bucking and leaping early on, rider Michael Eilberg just smiled, gave her a pat and moved on. She still has that “look at me” indefinable presence that horses either have or they don’t.

Michael Eilberg and Woodlander Farouche feeling fit and feisty © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Michael Eilberg and Woodlander Farouche feeling fit and feisty © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

 

Michael Eilberg and Woodlander Farouche demonstrate plenty of reach in a schooling canter half pass © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Michael Eilberg and Woodlander Farouche demonstrate plenty of reach in a schooling canter half pass © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

Prix St Georges

Day One of dressage competition began with what may have been the strongest Prix St Georges class that I have seen at this venue. There is usually one standout horse in the class, and maybe something else a bit promising, but I have never seen a class that got me this excited. Watching the Prix St Georges was as much about embracing the training and preparation as it was the competition itself. There was clearly an overall theme of horses being light footed, a clear softness and throughness in the training and the aids becoming increasingly invisible. Yet again the standard of riding/training in Germany is moving inescapably forwards.

Isabell Werth and DSP Belantis display the extraordinary scope of the young stallion © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Isabell Werth and DSP Belantis display the extraordinary scope of the young stallion © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

Isabell Werth and the seven year old DSP Belantis (Benetton Dream x Expose) were first in the order of go, so I could watch her warming up at my leisure (yay). This young stallion has extravagant gaits, which he clearly displayed in Verden, 2015, where he became reserve champion six year old under Isabell’s assistant trainer Beatrice Buchwald. In her warm up, Isabell barely touched on the “big” gaits instead spending considerable time playing with the tempi changes and the centre line. She touched on his “fancy” trot for maybe a couple of minutes before having his polos removed in readiness for entering the stadium.  During the mid-class break, I could choose to study Helen Langehanenberg on eight year old Suppenkasper (Speilberg x Krack C), Hubertus Schmidt on seven year old Escolar (Escobar NRW x Fürst Piccolo), Dorothee Schneider on Santiago 221 (Stedinger x Dacaprio), Ingrid Klimke on the 2008 mare Geraldine (Fürst Grandios x Tolstoi) or Michael Eilberg on Woodlander farouche. Yes, all schooling at the exact same moment. Total and complete eye candy for the equestrian. I am actually just assuming that my riding and training skills have improved by osmosis with such an abundance of excellence in one location.

Michael Eilberg and Woodlander win the Prix St Georges © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Michael Eilberg and Woodlander win the Prix St Georges © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

The class was won by Woodlander Farouche, ridden by Michael Eilberg with 76.368 percent. Beyond solid in all three gaits with the canter, the gait that scored a perfect “10” at Verden, the standout.

Dorothee Schneider and Santiago 221 were second with 75.263 percent. The walk work of this combination briefly put their score ahead of the winning combination.

Dorothee Schneider and Santiago 221 place second in the Prix St Georges © ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Dorothee Schneider and Santiago 221 place second in the Prix St Georges © ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

Isabell Werth and the extraordinary, but still young stallion, Belantis third with 73.895 percent.

Helen Langehanenberg and Suppenkasper are a study in concentration as they enter the stadium. They would finish fifth in the Prix St Georges with 72.921 percent
Helen Langehanenberg and Suppenkasper are a study in concentration as they enter the stadium. They would finish fifth in the Prix St Georges with 72.921 percent © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

For complete scores see Wednesday’s story by Kenneth Braddick