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Dressage is about tears and finding emotional balance…

Freestyle dressage podium (l-r): Cathrine Dufour (DEN) – bronze; Lottie Fry (GBR) – gold; Dinja van Liere (NED) – bronze

By Claartje van Andel
Photography: FEI/Leanjo de Koster

During the ECCO World Championships in Herning stories unfolded that are almost too amazing to write. Still, they belong to the very heart of our beloved sport where the relationship between men/women and their horses is decisive and a major factor in their success.

In the dressage Grand Prix in Herning, Britain’s Richard Davis was riding his home-bred 16-year-old KWPN gelding Bubblingh (Lingh - Matajo x Picandt x Matador), although it was not their best performance. However, after he left the ring he was grabbed by emotions and the only thing he could recall was that it had been 20 years earlier when he’d shown Bubblingh’s mother, Matajo – at that time named Ballaseyr Royale – at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez de la Frontera, when the pair finished 28th.
I later wondered whether there might have been an additional reason for the very emotional reaction from Davison. That was when the real reason was revealed – Lottie Fry. Richard had been very well acquainted with Lottie’s mother Laura Fry, who died in 2012 at the age of 45 having lost a two-year battle with cancer. Davison and Fry rode together in the silver medal winning British dressage team for the European Championships in 1993 in Lipica, Slovenia, with Laura riding her own Quarryman (Iseng). Now, in Herning, so many years later, 67-year-old Davison was once again a member of team Great Britain alongside none other than Laura’s 26-year-old daughter, Charlotte – ‘Lottie’. Together with their fellow team members, Gareth Hughes and Charlotte Dujardin, they won a brilliant silver medal for Britain. What an emotional recollection it was…

Mesmerizing Glamourdale

Lottie Fry and Glamourdale – gold medal lap of honour

In the days that followed, Lottie Fry surprised the world and achieved an incredible feat for a 26-year-old, and with a horse who might be considered les experienced, by winning individual gold medals in both the Grand Prix Special as well as the Freestyle to Music. Her partner – the 11-year-old black stallion Glamourdale (Lord Leatherdale x Negro). This powerhouse seemed to draw his brilliance directly from heaven. The night Lottie Fry and Glamourdale entered the arena was mesmerizing, under the spotlight of a full moon. We could have been forgiven for thinking it was Laura Fry, smiling and empowering her daughter from above.
The audience, that had been entirely captivated by their piaffe, passage, fabulous half passes, and especially the extraordinary canter work of Glamourdale in Grand Prix Special, once again held their collective breath in anticipation of another hypnotic performance. A couple of very small missteps which, of course, might have been avoided, but were irrelevant overall given the state-of-the-art moment encompassing everyone... To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber