Have you seen the photo that the FEI have posted of the London 2012 Individual Silver Medallist’s test on their Facebook page? While it is generous of them to show such a wide audience EXACTLY why so many people think this test did not deserve to score so highly, it does beg the question as to whether the FEI’s social media staff know anything about the FEI’s own dressage rule book? Should they really be highlighting the failings of the judges in this way? And really, shouldn’t they have at least added a rose tinted filter? (Because Instagram can make even the worst “moment in time” look artistic…)
And so I wonder… Is there, in fact, an insider who has posted this as a sort of secret coded message to the “true believers”? A nod is as good as a wink to a blind man, know what I mean? Nudge, nudge!
Ok, perhaps not. Perhaps it is more evidence of delusion and incompetence… or maybe ignorance… which is less fun, but sadly seems more likely to be accurate.
The photo has generated some healthy debate on Facebook, which I truly hope causes lots of people to refresh their knowledge of dressge theory, because every dressage book I have ever read clearly states that the way this horse is going is NOT CORRECT. The quality of the extension is a direct result of the quality of the collection, and the quality of this extension clearly shows that the horse is not truly collected.
Now, this would be a different story if this rider was less experienced, perhaps just starting out in dressage and not knowing any better, but this is an elite level rider who has been at the top of the sport for years. At the Olympics. She should know better, and so, more importantly, should the judges. At lower levels judges are tasked with giving all important feedback that will help riders improve. Why is this not also the case at the Olympics?
It is also worth pointing out that the photo is not just a single, unfortunate “moment in time” either. Go through the test and you will see other obvious signs such as piaffe that is not truly piaffe, and a death grip on the reins throughout. Why has the idea of lightness, self-carriage and harmony been thrown out the window? Or, y’know, that whole bit about lowering the hindquarters and engaging the hindlegs…I have tried to see it from other perspectives… I mean, perhaps someone boobytrapped Parzival, and the bomb would have gone off if she had anything less than half her bodyweight leaning back against his mouth?? “If I soften these reins WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!” Perhaps she saved the lives of thousands… No? Sorry, gone a little off track there again. Note to self, the dressage world is not like a bad Hollywood movie. *cough cough* No really. (Speed 3: Parzival??) Continue reading