Big atmosphere for the young Prix St George Horses at Frankfurt!

This year’s competition at the Frankfurt Horse Show included the finals for the Nürnburger Burg-Pokal, a championship for Prix St George horses aged 7-9, as well as the Luisdor Cup, a championship for Grand Prix horses aged 8-10. Both classes have qualifiers throughout the season and those good enough come to Frankfurt to go head to head against other young talents.

The Nürnburger Burg-Pokal is in it’s 21st year and the list of previous winners is impressive. Many successful international & Olympic Grand Prix horses first showed their power in the “small tour” by winning this final, and it is an exciting place to see what Germany’s dressage future might look like.

Thursday morning’s warm up class was optional but it gave a good idea of the quality in Saturday’s final. The arena had a much bigger atmosphere Saturday as the crowd’s gathered to see the brightest stars of tomorrow. In order of go, my impressions (after rider and horse I’ve listed the age, sex, and breeding – sire & dam sire – according to the start list):

Kathleen Keller & Lord (8 yr Gelding, Laurentino x Andiamo) This good-looking boy was simply overwhelmed by the intense, close atmosphere of this competition today. He spooked throughout the entire test and despite the lovely riding there wasn’t much opportunity for the judges to give high marks. The good news is that he showed great ability to do the one-tempis, even though he should have been doing four’s! 58.488/15th place

Marion Engelen & Sir Oliver (8 yr gelding, Sir Oldenburg x Lanthano) A very attractive pair. Nice flow in trot, small rhythm mistake in extended trot. Good walk. Canter very good, right pirouette a little big, left good. Super, safe test 69.073%/14th place

Holga Finken & Hofgraf (8 yr gelding, Hofrat x Weltruhm) Beautiful moving horse, nice uphill frame. Rider’s sometimes busy hands distracts from image 69.171%/13th place

Nadine Capellmann & Diamond Girl (9 yr mare, Diamond Hit x Liberty M) Stunning mare, chestnut with lots of chrome with a trot to match. Gorgeous mover! Collected walk sticky. Sometimes mare pulls frame down in canter, needs to stay more uphill. Has the qualities of an international star. 71.756%/9th place

Dorothee Schneider & Fackeltanz OLD (7 yr stallion, Florencio x Feinbrand) Gorgeous black stallion. Hind legs could be more under in extended trot. Walk good, with great pirouettes (I hate walk pirouettes, so I appreciate when they are great!). Approach to first canter pirouette was messy and the change between was late, but otherwise canter work was good. Perfect halts throughout. 70.439%/11th place

Victoria Michalke & Wasabi OLD (7 yr gelding, Welt Hit x Lancer) Here we had a 23 year old rider on a seven year old horse, knocking our socks off. Wasabi has a super hindleg and seems very relaxed in all the work. My only criticism was that the extended trots were maybe a little conservative, there appears to be more in there. Even still, it was enough for 74.049%/6th place

Juliane Brunkhorst & First Class 69 (8 yr mare, Fürst Heinrich x Rubinstein I) I confess I love a chestnut mare, and this may be the nicest chestnut mare I’ve ever seen, as her name would suggest. She’s a big mare but super elegant with a very strong looking topline. She absolutely trots through her whole body with incredible freedom in the shoulder: her score after trot was sitting at 78.9%! The walk was fine, canter nice, maybe the pirouettes could have been smaller to score higher, but a top combination to keep an eye on for the future! 75.171%/2nd place

Anna-Sophie Fiebelkorn & KANGANYAS Bennetton Dream (8 yr stallion, Brentano II x Rotspon) this popular breeding stallion has an outstanding trot & walk (score at 79 after extended walk!). His canter could show more sitting but has good activity. He switched behind in the left canter pirouette, an expensive mistake, and he wasn’t square in the halt. We, as fashion police, also gave this combination -2 points for painting his hooves black at the end of his four white legs. 71.268%/10th place

Uta Gräf & Damon Jerome NRW (7 yr stallion, Damon Hill x Guy Laroche) Uta & Damon Jerome have come up successfully through the young horse levels, winning medals at both the Young Dressage Horse World Championships and Bundeschampionate (German Young Horse Finals). Now this young stallion is showing the correct development for an FEI talent, with three super gaits and great training. The trot was maybe a little conservative, but lovely and flowing. Wonderful walk. Unfortunately Uta uses big aids in the flying changes, making it look hard. Otherwise gorgeous! 73.902%/7th place

Helen Langehanenberg & Rohjuwel OLD (8 yr stallion, Rohdiamant x Castro) Really beautiful stallion with lots of swing but unsteady in the frame. Two of three halts were not square, and those are marks thrown away! Extended walk good, collected walk not so much. Could be more under behind in canter, pirouettes were wide behind. Last extended trot down centerline broke to canter. This Olympic rider got the most out of her horse today but it was only enough for 70.049%/12th place

Charlott-Maria Schürmann & Burlington 14 (9 yr stallion Breitling W x Rohdiamant) This rider is 19 years old. NINETEEN! I hate her. Not really. Okay, maybe a little. Maybe just envious? Lovely, professional riding on a super, super talented horse. Highlights were… well, the whole test. Beautiful flow in the trot half-passes, with a change of direction that flowed like an Olympic performance. Score was 80% after extended walk. The canter showed super straight changes. Overall the canter could be a little more uphill to keep the score at that incredible level, but it was such an easy looking test from a wonderful partnership. A well earned 77.707%/1st place

Jan-Dirk Gießelmann & Real Dancer 2 (8 yr gelding, Rubin Royal x De Niro) Big, swinging trot, a lovely, elastic moving horse. Good walk. Canter pirouette could sit more & be more uphill, left pirouette hopping a little behind. Otherwise everything was very nice and harmonious. 74.585%/4th place

Ingrid Klimke & Dresden Mann (8 yr gelding, Dresemann x Florestan) I was holding my breath during this one because I was cheering for Ingrid and “Alfi”, so not a lot of notes taken. The entrance was a bit crooked, otherwise a good trot. Small spook at “A”, during transition to walk. Otherwise a lovely, correct test. 74.634%/3rd place

Ingrid & Alfi looking good!

Kathleen Keller & Desperados 29 (7 yr gelding, Danone x Werther) halt not square. Good in all three gaits, canter pirouettes could be better. A very nice pair, lovely test. After Kathleen’s first horse had his meltdown as first in, it was nice to see her have a rewarding ride! 74.293%/5th place

Dorothee Schneider & Ullrich Equine’s St. Emilion (7 yr stallion, Sandro Hit x Ehrenwort) Not immobile in halt. Gorgeous trot work, very good walk. Canter pirouette right needs to be more uphill, both directions could be smaller. Nice flying changes, straight and uphill. 72.000%/8th place

And now, all you young horses shall behave throughout a very, very, very long awards ceremony, and then you shall gallop together while continuing to behave… or not!

I feel like a bit of a jerk making any negative comments or observations regarding any of these combinations. When you look at the scores and realize that a 69% was good enough for SECOND TO LAST PLACE, and 12 out of 15 combinations scored 70% or above, you start to understand the quality of the horses and riders in this class. It’s a special test, similar to the Prix St George but with a few different moves thrown in, in my opinion increasing the difficulty.

Look at and compare the total points for each pair and you will see that from 3rd-7th place was only the difference of 15 points. Between five judges that could be simply not having square halts.

Final standings

Every combination fought hard to get to the finals, and they all performed admirably. What stuck me the most after watching this class is how much trouble we are in, in North America.

These are young horses with many younger riders, throwing down hard-earned 70%; I don’t think the judges were giving many marks away. These are the horses that will make up future teams for Germany, and they are being identified now. Look at the past winners of the Nürnburger Burg-Pokal and you see a lot of horses that were Grand Prix champions later in their career. Look harder, find the list of horses that didn’t win, and you will see horses that went on to be Grand Prix champions.

Winners of the past.

When I say things like “conservative trot” and “big pirouette” one has to keep in mind that these are young FEI horses. Their conservative trot would smoke anything I’ve ever done and their big pirouettes would still whoop most Prix St George horses of any age. These are elite combinations and I’m trying to learn, by watching, the difference between a 72% vs. 74%.

Germany “lost the gold” at the London Olympics for the first time in what seems like a bazillion years. However, judging by the quality of their upcoming FEI horses, they’re not going to give up fighting for the next gold, and the one after that!

Not sure if this link will work, but here are some lovely professional shots from the competition. My crappy camera simply can’t compete!