Solstice Blog

(No title) 

Our last day in Verden was bittersweet.  I loved seeing the grand finale but hated to leave.
I began my last day with a run through the most beautiful forest behind the hotel.  I came across two red dear and a large rabbit as I inhaled the fresh, 65 degree air.  I  got lost and ended up at the RV park for all the riders.  I did that last year also so I have to wonder if somehow I am drawn to that area.  Hmmmmm
Anyway, we arrived at the show grounds just in time to see American, Jennifer Hoffman win the 3 yr old Hanoverian mare championship with Donna Lisa 3.  She had won the qualifying round just two days before.  Such a wonderful mare!  She is by Dancier out of a Wolkentanz 1 mare.
The 3 year old stallion class went to Furst Nymphenburg II (Florencio x De Niro) who recieved a 10 for the canter.  Wow, you should of seen it!  The rider, Andreas Mueller, took a extra victory lap just to show off!
Jennifer wasn't so lucky in the 6 yr old final with my (still) favorite stallion, Florentinus V.  They must have warmed up too long or hard because he came into the ring in a sweat and could barely move.  Such a disappointment.  I am so sorry for Jennifer!
But on to the good news.
Sir Donnerhall II is a personal favorite since Emee owns one of his first sons, Sir Walkabout (who my friends at Walkabout Station bred!).  We watched him warm up Saturday evening and they were struggling.  But, a light bulb went off for his rider, Thomas who is Danish but working with a German trainer and everything changed!  It was fantastic to see him come out today (Sunday) with a whole new approach.  It paid off and he rode a beautiful test to score 8.78 and take the bronze medal.  His trot earned a 9.6!
Emmelie Scholtens rode Borencio to silver with a 9.10.  He was powerful and Emmelie can really ride a test but I have to say, he wasn't my favorite horse.  Lots of knee action and hot temperament to boot.
Then . . . .The moment we all waited for. . . Woodlanders Farouche, last years 5 yr old champion!  Michael rode into the arena in a calm posting trot.  The bell rang and you could have heard a pin drop from this otherwise noisy crowd.
I think we collective held our breath as the pair showed us all what it should be.  They had one hiccup in the first medium trot (I really mean just one stride!) and the crown groaned.  Then there was a slight mistake in one flying change but otherwise, flawless.
Watching this mare reminds me of what dressage is all about.  It looks easy, harmonious and happy.  She moves through her whole body.  She was awarded the gold with a score of 9.88.
More comments to come and . . .
I can't wait til next year!

(No title) 

Hello everyone!
Friday began with the 6yr old qualifying class,  Second to go was Woodlander Farouche so we arrived early to watch the warm up.  One thing I like about Verden is the accessibility.  We stand just a few meters away from the warm up ring and hear the coaching (not much is in english but . . .)
Farouche impressed me on so many levels.  Her walk is so perfect it is almost poetic.  From the time she entered the warm up area her topline was relaxed and her strides enormous,  Michael Eilberg, her rider, very calmly suppled her in the walk with leg yields and half pass.  Then picked up a trot in a stretched frame and continued suppling work.  He took several walk breaks and built her collection slowly and methodically,
Believe it or not, this contrasts with most other riders.  They spend most of their time on the rail riding very forward, sometimes deep with fewer breaks.
They went on to ride a beautiful test scoring 9.4 (which I thought was conservative from that judge group) and won the class easily.
Is there a take home message here?
I liked other horse in this class as well.  Bordeaux 28, Eva Moeller's mount, is surprisingly a KWPN horse by United out of a Gribaldi mare. He is quite talented and I think we'll see more of this horse. Eva is a veteran young horse rider and gets the most out of her horses in the test.
In the same category is Emmelie Scholtens from the Netherlands who rode Borencio to second place with a 9.16
Those horses that didn't make the cut rode in the "Small final" today.  The top three will go on to the large final tomorrow and include USA rider Jennifer Hoffman on Florentinus V who is possibly my FAVORITE STALLION of the show so far,  I base this on gaits and temperament and my gut feelings!
Our other USA rider (who is really German like most of them) was Sabine Schut-Kery, formerly of Texas,  She rode Alice Womble (still Texan) horse Senceo did not make it.

(No title) 

Today began with the small final for the six year olds.  This is a second chance class for those that didn't make the cut for the large final.  The top three horses in this class advance on to the large final on Sunday.
Also the judges have begun making comments at the end of the rides.  They don't do this for the qualifying tests, they just give scores.
It is quite interest how different the judging is from one panel to the next.  I believe they place the horses the same but the scores vary.  Today, Marietta Sanders gave the comments and she is quite eloquent and pretty funny too!  Her panel used the entire range of scores which I find refreshing and more fair.
The top three today included my favorite stallion, Florentinus V ridden by american, Jennifer Hoffman.
The winner was Tabasco, a Swedish horse.
Unfortunately, the other USA horse, Senceo, did not make the top three.  He is quite elegant in the trot but has walk and connection issues that haunted him.
This afternoon we'll watch the small final for the 5yr olds and I'll report again.
From Verden!

(No title) 

Second day in Verden,  The day began beautifully with  a great complimentary hotel breakfast and a short walk through perfect weather to the show grounds three blocks away.  We took our reserved seats, two rows back and settled in to watch a constant stream of beautiful five year old horses. A few of the first entries were a bit spooky but the rides settled as the day wore on,  They rode in sections of 8 rides, separated with a break,  Each winner of the group would advance to the finals plus the top scorers throughout the day.  There were many different styles to watch, some more successful that others but in the end, the horse with the three best gaits won, And the best riders were most able
 to bring out those amazing gaits,
Back again after a years abcence was Eva Mollier, riding Sa Coeur (Sir Donnerhal   x Don Davidoff) to win the five year old class with an outstanding score of 9,1,  All gaits scored very well signifying a very balanced, well rounded horse,  The judges very rightly seem to be placing emphasis on harmony and correctness rather than flash,
We were happy to see a smiling Jennifer Hoffman (an american living in Germany) win the three year old more and gelding class under saddle,  This is a "strip class" where after the group performance riders must remove the saddle for a conformation evaluation,  She rode Donna Lisa 3 (Dancier/Wolkentanz1) to a winning score of 8.75
The four year old stallion class was also interesting.  The winning stallion was Franziskus 15 (Farewell 111/Londonderry) but my personal favorite was Decurio3 by Desperados/Rotspon.  Great temperament to go along with the good gaits!
We ended the day watching the 6 yr old warm up and can't wait to see Woodlander Farouch (last year's darling and winner of the 5 nyr old champs) and Sir Donnerhall 11 tomorrow morning,
More later!

(No title) 

Hello everyone from Verden, Germany where I'll be for the next few days to watch the Young Horse World Championships and lots of other beautiful horses competing in everything from leadline to GP.  Carlan and I arrived at the Niedersachsenhof just this afternoon. It's a great little hotel just 3 blocks from the show grounds.  All the teams stay here and we've been coming back for four years now ourselves.
Today I watched the three year old Hanoverian mare class.  They were presented in hand and to my surprise, Scott Hassler, USA was one of the judges.  The champion mare was by Weltmeyer out of a Londonderry mare by Brentano II,  The judge panel commented on how nice it was to see such a good Weltmeyer mare  They are much desired for the breeding program,
Afterwards we watched the warm up for the five and six year olds.
Fashionista that I am, I noticed several trends.  Most importantly . . .EVERY RIDER WORE A HELMET!I
They came in all colors (one was cream colored with a brown vent) and many with bling,  I saw several pairs of brown boots with buckles at the top and others in patent leather with bling on the cuff.
Last year most horses wore ear nets but today I only saw two.
Most of the riders are young and they warmed up sometimes 20 horses at a time to Lady Gaga blasting over the speakers.  We drank wine and enjoyed watching,
More tomorrow!


We often hear terms like:  "forward"or "in front of the leg".  It is important to discuss the meaning and difference however. 
Impulsion is thrust and includes the idea of "desire to go"  along with a relaxation of the back.  Obviously a race horse has a desire to go forward but doesn't have the added quality of relaxation of the back that is necessary for a dressage horse.
A horse is "in front of the leg" if he is obedient to the driving aids.  We usually include the seat in this comment.
The bottom line is that we want our horses to respond very quickly to any driving aid but to do so with confidence.  This creates energy without tension . . .our ultimate goal.

Follow your dream 

I just read a post by Ann Pustil who interviewed people who are dying,  She asked them for their thoughts and by and large most of them regretted not following their dream.
For most of us dressage types, our dream has to do with riding and achieving a certain level.  Are you there yet?
Maybe it is time to take it up a notch.  Ask yourself, "what am I waiting for?"
Go out there and ride today and try something new!
Take advantage of education which is abundandt in our area.  It is spring and time to move forward,


According to meditation teacher Sally Kempton, "whether you're judging others or yourself, it's impossible to aim negative judgments in any direction without experiencing the sharp edges of judgment within yourself."

I think this quote speaks for itself.  We've all been there.

Cut yourself in half and sit better 

When working on your position, think "waist down, waist up".  Below your waist everything goes down:  seat bones, legs, heels, your entire center of gravity.
Above your waist, everything lifts: chest, diaphragm, chin, and most importantly, eyes.

Work you way through the warm up 

Warming up for a class at a show can be intimidating and distracting.  Knowing the "arena rules" can help you navigate through the traffic so you can focus on your horse and riding.
First, pass left hand to left hand as if your are driving.  If you are working on a circle and another horse/rider comes along the rail, pull your circle in and allow the other rider to pass on the outside.
If you are traveling in the same direction, the slower rider should be on the inside track.
And please, for the sake of other riders, do not stop on the track to adjust tack or talk with your trainer.
If you need passage (ie. diagonal) always say "please".
Courtesy and consideration are important.  The golden rule always applies!