Dressage Freestyle Due Up in London

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Today is the final Olympic event, the dressage freestyle to determine individual medals.? This time the freestyle will be the sole determiner for individual medals, like in the World Cup, where in the past it was a combination with the Grand Prix Special.? This will certainly make the event more exciting for the spectators.?

I remember in the past when including the freestyle in the Olympics was still in the discussion phase, that the Old Guard (aka ODG or Old Dead Guys or Old Dressage Gods) was saying it was not a true test of dressage basics, since choreography could hide a horse's weak areas.? I think that argument has long gone out the window, both because the degree of difficulty in freestyles has gone up so much and along with the sophistication of the judging.

Another change here is that the responsibility of the judges will be split.? Usually all the judges do both the technical and artistic scores, which requires some quick and complicated thinking at the end of the test.? Here three of the judges will award technical marks and four will award artistic marks.? If there is a tie, it will go to the higher artistic marks.

There are 18 riders, riding in three groupings of six each.? Since Steffen Peters, our sole U.S. rider in the freestyle, finished seventh in the GP/GPS, he was in the draw for the second group and he goes first there.? it's an unfortunate spot for him.? There are the three Brits, two Germans and one Dutch rider in the final grouping.? Just as in the team event, there is a good chance that someone other than a German or Dutch rider will be on the top of the podium.

Every time I judge a horse show, there is always a horse that catches my eye, a horse that makes me say: ?Well, that horse can go in my trailer.?? Often it isn?t necessarily the highest scoring horse but the horse that looks the most rideable.? Here I want to put British rider/trainer Carl Hester in my trailer and take him home with me to North Carolina.? Not only did he finish third in the team standings but he also produced rider Charlotte Dujardin and her horse Valegro.? He's wonderful to interview as well, funny and articulate.? He will be serving double duty here.? He rides third from last, then he will have to jump off his horse and go coach Dujardin, who will be the last to ride.

The sun is shining here this morning.? While in the past this hasn?t precluded a thunderstorm about the time I need to be out watching rides and filing stories on my laptop, it looks like the sun will shine all day.? I'll be chasing quotes from the last riders, so I won?t be able to see those rides, darn it, but I hope to see Steffen and the first dozen.