|Germany's Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD, the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final champions. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
Saturday, April 1, 2017
|Kasey Perry-Glass. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
The USA's Kasey-Perry Glass, 29, finished seventh in the Grand Prix (72.257%) at the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final aboard the 14-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Goerklintgaards Dublet (Diamond Hit x Ferro). I caught up with her as she prepared for the Freestyle Final, set to kick off in a little under an hour at Omaha's CenturyLink Center.
Mini-clinic put the show in the World Cup Finals' Dressage Showcase
|Isabell Werth coaches Endel Ots on Lucky Strike during the Dressage Showcase. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
Friday, March 31, 2017
|As the inept dressage rider "Brett Kidding," Aussie horsemanship expert Tristan Tucker brought laughs to the entertainment portion of the Dressage Showcase at the 2017 FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|World Cup Dressage Final competitors Steffen Peters, Inessa Merkulova, Laura Graves, and Isabell Werth were honored for achieving scores of 80 percent or better in World Cup Final series competition. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.
|Johnson's musical accompaniment? Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
|A girl enjoys her first "horseback ride" at the FEI World Cup Finals. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
To that end, along with the usual fancy high-end equestrian boutiques in the trade fair in the CenturyLink Center are lots of kid-friendly "intro to horses" interactive exhibits, a stableful of horses of various breeds for admiring, and other introductory-type attractions. As I wandered around the trade fair this morning, I found myself amidst throngs of schoolchildren on field trips -- most elementary-school-aged, some older -- as well as a good number of folks with various disabilities. Let's just say that the crowd did not look like the people we're accustomed to seeing at horse shows -- and that's a mighty welcome change. Quite frankly, the future of our industry and our sport depends on it.
The kids seemed equally fascinated by the real horses and the make-believe ones. Volunteers were doing things guaranteed to appeal to the younger set, like drawing forth a long length of tubular pink material from a box and announcing the length of a horse's intestines. Of course the kids loved it, complete with laughter and the cries of "Ew, gross!"
Confession: I loved it too. Among those tykes is undoubtedly one who will get bitten by the horse bug as completely and utterly as you and I did. And who knows: That little kid may well be our next McLain Ward or Laura Graves.
|The World Cup Finals aren't just about dressage and jumping. US dressage rider Endel Ots was spotted schooling a demonstration horse alongside a Western rider. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
|Of course, a trade fair is all about shopping! The USDF's Betsy Hamilton (left) and Sydney Manning are staffing the USDF merchandise booth. Stop by and say hello! Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
Thursday, March 30, 2017
|Judy Reynolds of Ireland and Carl Hester of Great Britain ready to draw the dressage starting order for the Grand Prix. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
There's a dressy hoopla at major international championships known as a draw party.
In my limited experience, it's a chichi affair held at some cool offsite location, where competitors, coaches, officials, and assorted hangers-on (that would include yours truly, as a member of the media) gather to nosh on hors d'oeuvres, quench their thirst at the open bar, listen to music, and generally see and be seen.
(Clarification: There usually aren't enough morsels to go around. And, being both on duty and on an empty stomach, yours truly figured she'd better lay off the sauce lest she end up either making a spectacle of herself or falling asleep in a corner.)
The real purpose of this fete, however, is to draw the starting order for the next day's competition. I'm sure a simple computer program could dispatch this task easily and cheaply in seconds, but I guess it's considered more fun to stage a party around the event, with selected riders drawing numbers and names out of fishbowls for a bit of live entertainment. Last night, at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, orders of go were drawn for today's dressage Grand Prix and first round of jumping.
For the dressage, competitors Judy Reynolds of Ireland and Carl Hester of Great Britain did the honors. There were the requisite speeches and acknowledgments, including a few words from the Omaha Equestrian Foundation's Lisa Roskens, the driving force behind the city's successful bid to host these FEI World Cup Finals.
|Fishbowls containing numbers and rider names are displayed on stage along with the jumping and dressage World Cup Final trophies at the draw party. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
I'm told I missed a great after-party (and real food!) in the aquarium, but I was hustling back to my hotel to rest up for today's big event, the Grand Prix. Here are the ride times and the results of the dressage draw. All times are local (CDT).
2:00 p.m. Maria Florencia Manfredi (ARG)/Bandurria Kacero
2:09 Edward Gal (NED)/Glock's Voice
2:18 Marcela Krinke-Susmelj (SUI)/Smeyers Molberg
2:27 Hanna Karasiova (BLR)/Arlekino
2:36 Joao Victor Marcari Oliva (BRA)/Xama Dos Pinhais
2:45 Carl Hester (GBR)/Nip Tuck
2:54 Mai Tofte Olesen (DEN)/Rustique
3:03 Madeleine Witte-Vrees (NED)/Cennin
3:32 Kasey Perry-Glass (USA)/Goerklintgaards Dublet
3:41 Steffen Peters (USA)/Rosamunde
3:50 Judy Reynolds (IRL)/Vancouver K
3:59 Kristy Oatley (AUS)/Du Soleil
4:08 Wendi Williamson (NZL)/Dejavu MH
4:17 Inessa Merkulova/RUS)/Mister X
4:26 Laura Graves (USA)/Verdades
4:35 Isabell Werth (GER)/Weihegold OLD.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
|The Netherlands' Edward Gal jogs Glock's Voice. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
All 16 competitors at the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final have cleared the final pre-competition hurdle: Their mounts have passed the horse inspection, aka "the jog" or, in Britain, "the trot-up."
In the horse inspection, the four-member FEI Veterinary Commission appointed for this competition watches as each horse is jogged in hand on a straight line, down and back in a prescribed pattern. The objective: to determine whether the horse is fit to compete.
|Laura Graves and Verdades of the USA. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
Occasionally the excitement, coupled with the crowd of onlookers and the wall of journalists' clicking cameras, gets the better of a horse, as it did for the first horse to jog, Argentina's Bandurria Kacero (they jog in alphabetical order by country name). If officials aren't able to see enough trot because of equine hijinks, they'll ask the competitor to jog again. But apparently Bandurria Kacero wasn't so crazy that they couldn't evaluate him.
|At least one horse typically gets overexcited during the jog. Maria Florencia Manfredi of Argentina has her hands full with Bandurria Kacero. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
|Inessa Merkulova of Russia had to jog Mister X twice before the horse was accepted for competition. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
The only rider whose heart must have been in her mouth for a few tense moments was Inessa Merkulova of Russia, who was asked to jog Mister X a second time -- and not because he was being unruly. The veterinarians do that when they think they see something the first time around and want to have another look. Merkulova was undoubtedly relieved when Mister X was passed after repeating the jog.
So, now, on with the show! The World Cup Dressage Final competition gets under way tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. CDT with the Grand Prix. Per World Cup rules, the Grand Prix does not itself count toward the final placings; it serves only as a qualifier for the Grand Prix Freestyle, the results of which determine the winner.
|The USA's Laura Graves on Verdades (left) and Germany's Isabell Werth on Weihegold OLD shared the ring for the final dressage-familiarization session before World Cup Dressage Final competition commences tomorrow. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
|Supporters and coaches from each nation watch intently when their representatives are in the ring. The USA contingent looks on as Kasey Perry schools Goerklintgaards Dublet. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|Even though his mount Glock's Flirt went lame and was unable to travel to Omaha, Dutch rider Hans Peter Minderhoud (right) made the trip to support his partner, Edward Gal, who is competing with Glock's Voice. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.