Tuesday, July 26, 2011

dressage in Aachen: Ravel and Totilas

Here is Steffan Peters on Ravel:

And Alexander Rath on Totilas:

According to Stacy at Behind The Bit, the audience booed the ride on Totilas - their own rider.

Are audiences now more knowledgeable about classical dressage than the judges are?


Grey Horse Matters said...

Both absolutely gorgeous horses. I think perhaps the audiences are becoming more knowledgeable about classical dressage these days. There is a lot of information to be had on the internet, books, videos etc. We can only hope that since all the riders and trainers know they are being watched they will start doing the right thing by their horses.

I thought Ravel looked relaxed and happy going through the movements. I'm not a judge or trainer but to my untrained eye he did look better than Totilas.

billie said...

Even with a new rider I still think Totilas looks like a Saddlebred with a weak hind end.

Ravel appears to me to be much more "correct" wrt classical standards and also very relaxed in his work.

I have to say though, I am not a fan of Steffan Peters' riding. He looks like he's shoving Ravel through the movements with his seat, and his legs are everywhere. This is one case where the rider distracts my eye totally from the beauty of the horse's movement.

I in no way make claims to ride as good as, or better than, Peters. But I will say that when I have ridden some upper level movements on the Big Bay there is no grinding or shoving or anything beyond pure lightness in my seat.

While nowhere near the level of these riders, I do feel I can have an informed opinion. My understanding and moments of experience in the saddle tell me that harmony and relaxation equal a ride that looks and feels effortless. Neither of these look like that to me.

I see amateur riders who come so much closer to that goal than many of the upper level competitors - and I think it has to do with tension in the competition horses and riders.

How can a rider be relaxed when he is grinding his pelvic joints?

In some ways I am parting company with the whole sport of dressage, because it increasingly fails to embrace the things I seek in my riding.

Would love to hear what other folks think of these rides, if you want to share.

smazourek said...

IMO Ravel moves like a horse and Totilas moves like a pogo stick. Most of the horses I see in international competition move like that: All up and no forward. Nearly every trot that horse has looks like passage and when he's in extended trot he's barely moving. Why does he nod his head at the trot like that? Something isn't right there.

billie said...

A few things I noticed with Totilas:

There seems to be something off with his right front. Periodically if you watch closely you'll see he either stabs it down really fast or he puts it down with a slightly exaggerated head bob.

Which is hard to see because his head does bob almost constantly at the trot.

There were errors in at least two tempi sets which makes me wonder if that right front just can't make the change every time.

He's btv a lot of the time. During his extended canter work, when he looks the most like a "normal" horse to me, I just ache to see him open up that throat latch to a point in front of the vertical.

There's been discussion on a classical dressage list I'm a member of about purity of gaits. I see a definite IMpurity with Totilas, at least as I understand what the goals are. It looks to me sometimes when he's trotting that his shoulders are deformed.

I'll have to watch the Ravel ride again and try to stop looking at Peters' seat. It was truly driving me crazy to the point I couldn't watch the horse as much as I wanted to.

Máire said...

I thought I would be interested to watch both these rides. But I switched off both after a few minutes. There is resistance from both horses, although more from Totilas that I could see. Without your knowledge Billie, it is not where I want to be, or what I want to watch. It is not harmony, both horses are opening their mouths against the bit and I am turned off competitive dressage.

I have seen some beautiful videos on the internet from classical dressage. Check out Ben Branderup and his students for example. Total harmony.

billie said...

Agreed - hard to watch either one. I admit, the huge crowd and all the peripheral 'show' energy do nothing for me at all. I want to see a rider and horse completely engaged with one another and it's true - this is not that, not by a long shot.

I'll look up Ben Brenderup. Thanks.

ponymaid said...

billie - there seems to be a lot of smoke and mirrors going on here - the roar of the crowd, the excitement building around watching "the best of the best". But why don't the equines look like they're enjoying any of it? They look like students who have studied very hard for the exam but who are worried about the result. There is no joy in their world.

billie said...

Sheaffer, it all feels like a sham. I'm not sure what they're trying to achieve any more.