Dancing With Your Horse in London

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For those of you who have ridden a musical freestyle at a local show in the U.S., hoping against hope that no one will use the same music you?ve carefully chosen, imagine if you are riding in the individual freestyle at the Olympics to Genesis and two rides before yours is another ride to Genesis.? Talk about a heart stopping moment.? At least the editing seemed quite different for Anna Kasprzak of Denmark and Victoria Max-Theurer of Austria.

Other musical choices included Billy Idol for Patrik Kittel of Sweden, Black Eyed Peas for Goncarlo Carvalho ?of Portugal, ?Avatar? for Steffen Peters of the U.S.,? ? Lion King? for Laura Bechtolsheimer of Great Britain, Nutcracker Suite for Adelinde Cornelissen of the Netherlands and various movie soundtrack plus Olympic theme music for the winner Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain, ending with chimes from? Big Ben, a very fitting end to the two weeks here.

Most of the other riders rode to music specially composed to their choreography.? Generally I prefer ?real? music (over music composed for the specific horse) because it seems to me that that horse is then performing to the music and truly dancing rather than the music performing to the horse.

We were told earlier that the judges would split the responsibility of artistic and technical scores, but that turned out to not be the case.? Judge Gary Rockwell told me afterward that the judges all did both jobs, as usual.? He was one of the judges in the ?new? position at the A end of the ring for the freestyle and said he could see there just fine, better than he originally expected.? This Olympics added two judges to the usual panel of five.

However, there was some controversy after all the scores were announced, which hadn?t happened during the grand prix tests earlier in the ?week, since Dujardin finished two percentage points above Cornelissen despite Valegro missing a transition near the end of the test, although head judge Stephen Clarke said later that overall Valegro had more harmony and self-carriage than the Dutch horse.

Just before the competition started, while standing in line for the loo, I heard ?Margaret!? and was suddenly hugged by Lauren Spreiser, who now lives in Virginia but who I knew for several years at Lendon Gray?s Gleneden in New York.? it's a small horse world!

I am headed west now for home but taking the scenic route through Wales and Ireland.? When I get home in two weeks I'll fill you in with more tidbits from this amazing time in London.