United States of America Places Second at Aachen and First in the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage Series
Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Sunday, July 17, 2016
Significant victories by USA dressage competitors continue at the international level, as seen at this year’s CHIO Aachen Festival. Top performances by Steffen Peters riding Legolas 92, Shelly Francis riding Doktor, Katherine Bateson-Chandler riding Alcazar and Arlene “Tuny” Page riding Woodstock also had Europeans cheering at the impressive quality in U.S. horsemanship, clear training methods and magnificent riding resulting in the United States of America’s Dressage team placing second place at Aachen behind Germany’s dream team and first overall in the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage series.
United States of America’s recognition at the FEI Nations Cup™ inaugurated 2016 Dressage series which now includes more than the usual four competitions. In 2016, the Dressage series included CDIO3* Wellington FL (USA), CDIO3* Odense (DEN), CDIO5* Compiègne (FRA), CDIO5* Rotterdam (NED), CDIO5* Falsterbo (SWE) and CDIO5* Aachen (GER), and the USA has continued to be victorious throughout.
Setback for Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Alcazar
Katherine Bateson-Chandler, unfortunately, had to withdraw Alcazar (barn name “Lonzie”) from further competing because he had an impaction in his intestine on Friday evening. Katherine and her husband Carl stayed with the horse all night following the surgery. Happily, the horse has been doing fine post-surgery, but sadly Katherine was unable to show the wonderful progression she and the 2013 U.S. National Champion Intermediate Dressage Horse of the Year have achieved over these last few years, including some big wins in the Grand Prix at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival Florida Winter Series.
Tuny said, “Katherine is a consummate horsewoman, a top rider and clearly the horse was not on his best form in the Grand Prix, but there was no indication in the stable that he was uncomfortable. Those guys, like any good horseman, saw in an instant that something wasn’t quite right for him and they were right on it. Thank goodness for Dr. Rick Mitchell our team vet who monitored the horse. Nothing replaces experience. At first, he did the minimum treatment, hoping he could keep her in the game. But, then, his instinct kicked in and he said, ‘No, it’s not right’ and the horse went on his way to the vet clinic. Thankfully, the horse is doing well.” Katherine and Carl will stay in Aachen at the vet clinic during the upcoming week before heading back to England and their summer home base at Carl Hester’s training farm.
Steffen Peters and Legolas
USA Team leader Steffen Peters spoke of Legolas afterward his Grand Prix test, “I was super happy with Legolas. It was one of his best goes. I can finally allow him to be in a more uphill without losing his back. His piaffe and passage were beautiful. The changes were good and he had good pirouettes. A 77% in Aachen right behind the Germans is super exciting.”
The overall calmness of Legolas was evident. Steffen has worked hard to help the horse gain the necessary confidence in the large atmosphere arenas.
“I time it just right,” he shared. “When there are a lot of people around, I ride him near the stadium. I need to expose him to that. We only walk. I don’t work him too hard. I did that at Rotterdam, where we worked at 5 o’clock in the afternoon when I knew there was nothing going on, but when spectators and kids with their balloons and parents with their strollers gathered around the warm-up ring, we walked on a long rein. He did get excited, but he got through it. It’s still that desensitizing which we continue.”
Tuny's Game Plan at Aachen
“I’ve worked hard this season on my mental game, and felt that I could handle the pressure very well and lay down a really good test. It’s fantastic to have a horse that has a lot of flexibility.” She admitted, “And, yes, sometimes Woodstock’s crazy smart and I might not be as smart at that moment, but I’m smart enough. He’s sometimes quite clever.”
“But, I basically said to Woodstock, ‘I know you’re squirrelly about my legs in the changes, but my legs aren’t coming off,’” she forewarned. “It’s no longer going to be my signing a peace treaty because you’re annoyed I’m not doing everything in a certain way.” Tuny continuously works at finding more points in the ring as her horse develops the necessary strength and confidence.
Always evolving in training with Woodstock, she said, “Through the qualifying period just to make the top eight and get to Europe, I felt like I addressed what I could. When we arrived here at Aachen, we addressed a little more, but I couldn’t change too much because it wasn’t the right time to make significant changes because I wanted to hold my own on the U.S. squad. I did take a chance and schooled him a little differently than my usual way through this week. The Grand Prix test wasn’t quite near good enough. It was okay, but it’s not where I wanted to go and now that the qualifying period is over, I’m on my own to work out the few kinks.”
“The bottom line,” she explained, “ is that every single one of us on this team came here with the intention to chase the German riders and to also stand back a bit and let them have their moment because that’s their dream team, if there ever was one! As riders and competitors, we had to recognize and respect that. Our goal, though, was to be very strong with the Danish and the Swedes.
Enormously grateful of her special support system, she said, “I can’t stress enough how much training with Robert [Dover] and Arnd [Erben], the assistance I have in grooms Verity and Andrea, and how the love and support of my family give me the confidence to stick my neck out and do something a little different. They’re with me if it works or not and Aachen was a real beginning for the new Chu (Woodstock) and me. My USA team at Aachen was great, but now that the qualifying period is over, I’m on second reserve for the Olympics and on my own.
Renowned Robert Dover on Aachen and the Nations Cup Series Win
Robert Dover, one of USA's multi-Olympics medalists and Chef d’Equipe described Aachen this year, “The Nations Cup was a thrill for our team to end up securely in second place at Aachen, especially among the other nations who sent their very best riders to see who would be on their Olympic team. We wanted to use the series as a kind of stepping stone toward Rio. It was always in our minds since Wellington to try and win the series if we could. We went to all tests but Falsterbo, Sweden because that one was too close to Aachen. We couldn’t be more proud of the ten riders who competed throughout the entire season that brought us the victory.”
The ten riders to whom Robert referred included Steffen Peters, Laura Graves, Kasey Perry-Glass, Allison “Ali” Brock, Shelly Francis, Arlene “Tuny” Page, Katherine Bateson-Chandler, Susan Dutta, Jennifer Hoffman and Beatrice “Trixi” Marianeu.”
He continued, “We had Jennifer Hoffman with her lovely stallion that is just starting in the Grand Prix, Susie Dutta who is always a wonderful rider at any Nations Cup, Trixi who’s such a fun person and a good rider with a super talented horse, and Katherine Bateson-Chandler who, sadly, had to withdraw because her horse took ill. We’re very hopeful, though, that he’ll make a full recovery.”
Tuny summed up this year’s events at Aachen well, “Aachen is the crème de la crème and obviously the mythic horse show it was expected to be. The atmosphere has been beyond belief. As one of the riders on the U.S. Nations Cup team, each of us felt pressure to do all we could to support each other and, of course, our federation. It takes a lot of people to make this thing work.”
USA's second place win at Aachen and overall Series Win
The German Team winners who used Aachen as the finals for their Olympic German Team trials included a dream team of Kristina Bröring-Sprehe riding Desperados FRH, Dorothee Schneider riding Showtime FRH, Isabell Werth riding Weihegold OLD and Sönke Rothenberger riding Cosmo 59.
The Thursday, June 14,2016 Grand Prix test brought Steffen Peters scoring a 77.243% to place fourth, Shelly Francis with a 72.200%, Arlene “Tuny” at 68.971% and Katherine Bateson-Chandler with 66.314%. To see scores for the Grand Prix test, CLICK HERE
Saturday, July 16th was the Grand Prix Special with Steffen Peters scoring 76.627%, Arlene “Tuny” Page a 71.451% and Shelly Francis 70.647%s. To see the results, CLICK HERE
The overall scores for the USA Dressage team was 218.414 in Thursday’s Grand Prix test and 218.725 in Saturday’s Grand Prix Special for a total of 437.139 points behind Germany’s 246.285 points in the Grand Prix test and 246.313 in the Grand Prix Special, and overall points of 492.598. To see overall team results, CLICK HERE
Sunday's Freestyle CLICK HERE
To see the Aachen Nations Cup Team Score: http://resulting.chioaachen.de/show/8/event/43/championship/nation-cup/standing/