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It was a very exciting weekend for Equestrian at Rio this weekend! Friday was the final for Team Medals for Dressage and the Show Jumping started!
The team Dressage results were roughly what we all expected after the Grand Prix scores. In fact, glancing back at the team scores from the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special, the placings didn’t change at all in the second round! Germany rode several beautiful tests to secure team Gold. Team GB did well, taking home team Silver after some unfortunate mistakes in their tests. Which includes Nip Tuck’s rather impressive spook in his Grand Prix and Valegro’s break into canter in his Grand Prix Special. The USA took home Bronze.
Despite being in the lead for Individual Gold after the Grand Prix, Charlotte and Valegro have slipped down to second place after their mistakes in the Grand Prix Special. However, Freestyle tends to be their speciality, so a good test could easily push them back up into Gold position and I would be surprised if we don’t see them in the medals at the end of today! The other 2 riders from GB to qualify for the Freestyle are Carl Hester and Fiona Bigwood. (Only 3 riders from each nation can qualify.) Carl currently lies in 9th place with Nip Tuck and Fiona is 16th with Orthilia.
For those of you wanting to watch their rounds, this is what time (GB time) they will be riding today! Fiona = 2.30pm Carl = 3.35pm Charlotte = 4.40pm
This weekend also gave us the first round of Show Jumping which had interesting results! The course seemed to be a lot trickier than riders were expecting. 24 riders managed a clear round, but many also picked up faults here and there. 8 Horses failed to complete the course picking up 27 or more faults. John Whitaker jumped clear for team GB with Ornellaia. The rest of team GB had a pole down each, at different places in the course. I don’t think (but I could be wrong) that these faults do not count towards team medals… but I they might do for individual medals… Either way, team GB isn’t looking too bad entering the Team rounds which start tomorrow as only 2 teams managed to get 3 clear rounds in this first qualifying round.
Now for the more ‘interesting’ part of the Show Jumping news. 2 riders were disqualified after this first round for welfare breaches. Belgian rider Nicola Philippaerts was disqualified by the ground jury after they decided there was excessive use of spurs during her round. Her horse Zilverstar T refused one of the jumps twice, which may have ‘caused’ the excessive use of spurs. Jur Vrieling riding for the Netherlands was also disqualified after the ground jury decided ruled that there was excessive use of the whip. His horse, Zirocco Blue, had 2 refusals at different areas in the course.
In a weird way, this is a GOOD thing! FEI jumping rules indicate that a horse which has blood or marks indicating excessive use of whip or spurs MUST be disqualified. However, as far as I am aware, there is no guidelines as to what a mark from excessive use would look like. Which means tiny, minor, marks can get a rider disqualified which I thinks improves public perception of our sport. Which is really what our sport needs right now!
Don’t get me wrong, it is not okay for us to be leaving marks on our horses. But I do not feel that leaving marks necessarily warrants abuse or excessive use of an aid. With spurs in particular, an awkward jump can unbalance the best of riders and can cause their leg to move, which could catch the horse with their spur. This is what many believed happened to Bertram Allen at Olympia last year (read here.) Also, you don’t need spurs and whips to leave a mark. Scottie had a bit of a bald patch this winter where he was clipped and would not listen to my right leg, causing me to use a lot more right leg and leaving a bit of a mark. Although I felt a bit bad, I feel it was far from any kind of abuse.
Surprisingly I haven’t seen much on social media about these disqualifications. But I think that is probably because there is this ridiculous rumour currently going round bashing one of the Dressage riders! Dutch rider Adelinde Cornelissen had horrible misfortune while at Rio where her dressage partner Parzival received what is now believed to be a bite on the face which quickly turned nasty. His check was massively swollen and he was running a really high fever. He was xrayed to check for any bone involvement, but was given the all clear and after they managed to bring his temperature down, he was cleared to compete by the vets. However, Adelinde felt he wasn’t right and quickly retired him from the competition.
Now, if you are on lots of horsey social media, you have probably heard and seen a very different story, which is causing people to lash out at her. Some people seem to believe that he fracture his jaw due to being expected to work in rolkur and that it serves her right not being able to compete since she has been abusing her horse. Where these rumours came from I do not know. Especially as it was very well documented that the horse had suffered a bite which had got infected/had a bad reaction. Not only that, but people were still jumping on her and calling her every name under the sun even when the FEI released a statement saying that the horse had no fracture and that an x ray had taken place to rule it out as a reason for the swelling.
On another note, could you even break a horses jaw by rolkur? It can cause a lot of tension damage to the soft tissues and long term I’m sure it can cause problems to the spine. However, I am unsure as to how asking a horse to work in rolkur would break its jaw, unless you were really janking it in the mouth, which I think is a very different issue altogether!
I’m finding certain groups on social media very tiring atm, possibly due to the Olympics. It just seems that a lot of seemingly uneducated people are commenting on how horses should be kept, ridden and trained and are claiming virtually everything to be animal abuse… The best one recently was someone claiming that if you use a flash on your horse you might as well just duct tape their mouth shut and get on with it… Maybe another post can be all the worrying things people on social media seem to believe!
How are you enjoying the Olympics so far? And is it just me feeling the need to correct about 100 numpties a day on social media?