Tuesday, October 5, 2010

World Equestrian Games (WEG) - Day 1 - Team Grand Prix

Day 1 started with David being interviewed by a reporter from National Public Radio.

She referred to me as a "dressage athlete"!  Shameless flatterer!  No wonder people spill their guts to reporters! 

The dressage competition at WEG consisted of three separate competitions spread over 5 days:  Team Grand Prix, Grand Prix Special, and Grand Prix Freestyle.  The team competition also served as the qualifier for the Special, with the top 30 riders making the cut.  The top 15 riders in the Special compete in the grand finale, the Freestyle.  The attendance and excitement mount with each round.  In other words, only real dressage nerds get up early on a cool and drizzling morning of the first day to see the first rides.  We got there before the first ride.  Hmmm.  Type A?
If you're not familiar with dressage, here's a crash course.  The low white rail you see is the standard arena.  The arena has letters around it where the flower boxes are.  Oh, and there are imaginary letters on the centerline.  Horse and rider perform a test of prescribed movements at/or between letters.  Yes, every horse and rider performs the same test.  To normal people, this is like watching concrete set.  To me, it is thrilling. But I digress.  Anyway, see the gazebos?  There are judges sitting in the gazebos.  Five of them, for this competition.  They each give a score of 1 (very bad) to 10 (excellent) for each movement of the test.  Your final score is a percentage determined by dividing how many points you scored with the judges by the possible number of points in the test.  I've left out some major stuff, like some movements count double, there are coefficients at the bottom of the test for rider's position, horse's gaits, etc, but you get the idea.

So for the team competition, there were 18 countries having teams of 4, and 6 countries that had partial teams for a total of 98 rides over two days.  Heaven!  I'll spare you a description of each ride, but fair warning, there's no getting around a future post of the highlights.

One of the things that really got my attention on Day 1 was the scoreboard.  Yes, the scoreboard.  I had never been to a competition with a movement-by-movement scoreboard before.
Here, for the movement Passage, the judge at E gave a 9,  at C a 10, etc.  (This is the first 10 I ever saw; I got excited and took a picture.  Many more would come.)  The next two lines are the actual percentage the current rider has scored so far in their test compared to how the leader had scored to that point.  This was fascinating, not so much to see who was leading, but the reverse.  It really drove home how costly a mistake is.  You'd see the mistake, see the scores the judges gave for it, watch the percentage plummet from that one mistake, and see if the horse and rider could claw their way back up.  Usually not.  It was a real lesson.

We got to see the awards ceremony for the endurance competition, which had taken place the day before.  I only know the bare bones about endurance; it's basically a long distance race with several vet checks to make sure the horses aren't endangered.  Funder at can tell you much more about this sport - she and her mare Dixie actually compete in endurance!  Anyway, these horses did 100 miles throughout the farmlands of Kentucky in about 12 hours.  Yikers!  They had a 55% completion rate, which is considered very good.  OMG!

From left to right, Bronze was won by HE Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum with SAS Alexis (United Arab Emirates), Gold - Maria Alvarez Ponton with Nobby (Spain), and Silver - HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum with Ciel Oriental (United Arab Emirates).  Funder pointed out that the Sheikh did not attend the ceremony in person, but I still like this photo because I like that the grey Arab is being kissed.  Very nice.

100 miles and still gas in the tank.


in2paints said...

More, more, more!! :)

I only know the bare bones of true Dressage... I've done quite a few Dressage tests in my day, but it was just for 4-H. I've learned quite a bit lately just from reading blogs written by people who actually do Dressage. It was neat to see how the scoreboard works and I can see how it would be quite addicting!

Can't wait to hear more!

Lori Skoog said...


allhorsestuff said...

YEAAA! Loved your words...all of them~
More here too please!

Flartus said...

Thanks for giving us the basics. I surely hope that scoreboard isn't visible to the riders!

Were all the endurance medalists riding Arabs?

Terry said...

Flartus, yes, the endurance medalists were all Arabs. Arabs seemed to be the dominant bred, and all the US riders rode Arabs. I wish we'd seen a little of the competition, but that was our travel day. I'm glad we got to see the awards ceremony.

Louise said...

Good lesson on the basics. I think I would have been so fascinated with the scoreboard for a while that I would have lost track of the actual ride. Love your description of dressage to most people being as exciting as watching concrete set. Much better than the saying around here that it's as exciting as dirty dishwater.

Can't wait to read more.

Jabacue said...

Terry, thanks for this lesson. Now I will feel a little more knowledgeable when I see this on TV. I can feel your passion. Good post.

Funder said...

Lol, you got excited about something super dorky and took a picture of it! I love it, I do that ALL THE TIME.

I think (from reading the Ridecamp listserv) that the Sheik did not attend the awards ceremony - that's his chief d equip (forgive my bad French). The Sheik is the head of state for the UAE and they probably didn't want to take the added security risk.

I love the victory lap. So amazing that those horses did one hundred freakin' miles and they will still happily canter off.

Terry said...

Thanks, Funder, I'll make a correction.