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Smirnoff (Sir Donnerhall x Florencio I) ridden by Manuel Bammel Photo: Roz Neave

GERMANY (by Christopher Hector) After the embarrassment that followed Andreas Helgstrand’s silver medal at the dressage World Breeding Championships for Young Horses, the judges at Germany’s celebration of the young horse, the Bundeschampionate, seemed determined to stomp on any sign of over-the-top riding, right from the first dressage championship, the six-year-old class.

The German-based Norwegian rider, Isabell Bache, has been one of my favourites for a long time, she has an insouciant personality that is on display whenever she rides, but she paid the price for the somewhat ‘produced’ flavor to her test on the Oldenburger, Fasine (Fürst Ro- mancier - Gestina x Sir Donnerhall I, bred by Paul Schockemöhle). The brown mare was very elegant, but the judges were stern: nothing over 7.50 and a 6.50 for ‘Durchlässigkeit’ – one of those German equestrian terms that doesn’t really translate, but measures the correctness of the training (handiness of the horse).

They were a little more mellow later in the day, and awarded four eights to Bache’s second ride, another Oldenburger mare, Fünfsterne (Dimaggio - Faronja x Karon, bred by Christoph Belmforde) for a 7.90 total that left them in ninth.

To underline the message, the judges were severe on Heiko Klausing, one of the last of the old-style fire and flash auction riders. Klausing’s black Oldenburg stallion, Justify AS (Jazz - Identify x Inselfurst) is a beautiful horse, but so busy is the rider that he makes it hard to see the horse, and is so vigorous in one of the changes that you worry that the horse might fall over. Only 5.50 for Durchlässigkeit and a 6.50 total, has a few in the crowd whistling their displeasure, but there are also a few who applaud the direction the ground jury is taking.

Smirnoff (Sir Donnerhall x Florencio I) ridden by Manuel Bammel Photo: Roz Neave
Smirnoff (Sir Donnerhall x Florencio I) ridden by Manuel Bammel Photo: Roz Neave

Although we saw a few overtight nose bands, the ugliest of them all was that of the Hanoverian stallion, Duisenberg (Desperados - Weltluna x Weltmeyer) shown, to his shame, by Raphael Thomas. It was hard to watch as the poor creature tried desperately to free its tongue. It was a pity since the horse could move. The judges hit the rider with a 4.50 for Durchlässigkeit and they finish 34th. Good judging!...