World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen 2016 - First Impressions

Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Thursday, July 14, 2016

The 2016 Opening Ceremonies at the World Equestrian Festival CDIO Aachen

The Annual World Equestrian Festival CHIO Aachen is not just a horse show. It is an experience. Warmth emanates from perfectly groomed hedgerows to a border of lavender-blue star-shaped flieder flowers around the dressage competition arena. The Festival’s staff, a culture of clock-work perfection including more than a thousand volunteers, focus souly on every detail with broad smiles during the two-weeks of competitions (July 8-17, 2016) which include Vaulting, Show Jumping, Dressage, Three-day Eventing and Four-In-Hand Driving.

The annual show, uniting nations and cultures, is held on grounds five minutes northwest of Aachen, an ancient city inhabited since 5,000 BC. It is where Charlemagne arrived in 800 AD and built a magnificent cathedral, a palace and monasteries to welcome Roman Catholics to the area after the fall of Rome. Now the official equestrian show of Germany where five disciplines are staged, the city and the Festival welcome around 350,000 spectators each year.

This year’s Festival presented by Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden and her husband King Carl XVI Gustaf who commenced the opening ceremonies with a Swedish theme to prepare for next year’s European Championships at Gothenburg in late summer. A great opportunity for Sweden to present itself as a hospitable and versatile country through its horses, The Queen acknowledged the gathering of so many nations graciously taking part in competitions together. Following her blessing, a full hour of Swedish history in horses unfolded on the infield.

Dressage at Aachen - Deutsche Bank Stadion

The dressage competitions are where riders and horses illustrate their extensive training, dedication and loyalty for the sport before five to seven FEI judges who evaluate their performances to find the highest scoring participants. Dressage is why we are here with our questions about who is the best rider, the best owners and breeders of the horses and what we can learn. Our expectations are certainly being fulfilled.

Prix St George

On Wednesday, our North American eyes were on long-term U.S. Team member Shelly Francis in the Prix St. George with Patricia Stempel’s Rubinio and Spanish Juan Matute, Jr. who pairs with Yeguada de Ymas' own Dhannie Ymas. 

A rainy end to the Prix St George crowned British rider Michael Eilberg on Woodlander Farouche a 10-year-old mare with a score of 76.368% and Dorothee Schneider placed second on Santiago 221 scoring 75.263%. 

To see all Prix St George scores CLICK HERE:

CDI Grand Prix 4*

Anticipation was high as a crowd gathered for the CDI Grand Prix 4* which continued throughout the evening hours to a most elegantly ridden climactic conclusion with Hubertus Schmidt victorious on 13 year-old Trakehner stallion, Imperio 3 (Connery x Balfour XX) scoring 76.043%. Others finishers under the top five included two-time World Cup bronze medallist, Jessica Bredow-Werndl who came in second with Unee BB scoring 74.90%. Anabel Balkenhol and Dablino came third with a score of 74.486% ahead of Fabienne Lütkemeier with D’Agostino 73.814% and Jenny Lang-Nobbe with Loverboy at 72.700%. The competitions in Aachen will ultimately decide who will represent Germany in Rio for the German Team.

Represented from North America included Shelly Francis riding Danilo, along with Chris von Martels pairing with Divermento, and Mikala Münter Gundersen riding Janne Rumbough’s My Lady

To see all Grand Prix 4* Results CLICK HERE:

The other extraordinary program taking place here at Aachen is the Audience Judging. Once you download the CHIO Aachen App called “Audience Judge” you can score on your phone each ride as it takes place during the live competition. Remarkably, the announcer will often reveal the overall judge’s score as well as the audience judging score average. Most times, both are fairly close to each other. It's proved, along with Christoph Hess' mobile real-time radio education commentary, a super way to involve many if not most of the spectators, up to 30,000 strong.  

Today was the Nations Cup Grand Prix 5* with U.S. riders, Arlene “Tuny” Page, Katherine Bateson-Chandler, Shelly Francis and Steffen Peters. More coverage coming...

To see full results CLICK HERE