Sunday, October 3, 2010

PRE Andalusian, Fuego XII, does very well at WEG 2010

Since I got Shadowfax, who is an Andalusian, though not PRE due to being 1/32 Lusitano, I've been paying more attention to Andalusians in the news and such. I was very happy to see that a PRE Andalusian did very well in dressage at the World Equestrian Games 2010(WEG 2010). Fuego XII ridden by Juan Manuel Munoz Diaz of Spain placed 5th overall in the dressage freestyle. He placed 4th in the individual Grand Prix Special and had the 5th highest score in the team dressage competition. Below are videos of his performances:

Freestyle: Fuego XII and Juan Manuel Munoz Diaz was one of only two performance teams to receive a standing ovation in the dressage freestyle. The cheers and screams were so loud at the end of the performance that this very experienced horse was actually spooked into a short bolt. You can't really hear the crowd reaction on the video I've posted below, but on other videos (recorded by people in the audience and not as good visually), you can hear the crowd clapping along with the music and cheering him on during the performance, and then the thunderous roar of approval at the end. In online news articles, they report that when his score of 81.45 was announced, the crowd boo'd their disapproval of such a low score, especially since one of the judges' scores was SIGNIFICANTLY lower than all of the others. (According to the official FEI Altech results page, the judge at B, Maribel Alonso of Mexico, gave him a 71.5 and 82 and placed him 8th.) The scoring was VERY uneven and the crowd was not happy. It apparently took some time for the boo'ing to die down.

Fuego XII and JMMD Freestyle Dressage WEG 2010

Diaz and Fuego's freestyle scores:
Judge At E: 76 tech, 89 Art, 165 total, 5th place
Judge at H: 80 tech, 88 art, 168 total, 4th place
Judge at C: 80 tech, 86 art, 166 total, 5th place
Judge at M: 75 tech, 87 art, 162 total, 4th place
Judge at B: 71.5 tech, 82 art, 153.5 total, 8th place
Overall score: 81.450

Individual Grand Prix Special: Fuego XII and JMMD won 4th with a score of 76.042. (Is that Russian the commentator is speaking?)

Fuego XII and JMMD Individual Grand Prix Special WEG 2010

Team Dressage: Fuego XII and JMMD had the 5th highest individual score of 73.957.

Fuego XII and JMMD Team Dressage WEG 2010

An American, Steffan Peters on Ravel(Dutch Warmblood), won bronze in both Individual Grand Prix Special and Freestyle. Theirs was the one other freestyle performance to receive a standing ovation and earned an overall score of 84.90. NBC showed highlights of this week of WEG and Ravel and Peters freestyle was one of four performances shown(the top four finishers). The tv commentators were very impressed with how complex the routine was and how well it was performed. Sadly, I can't find a good video of this performance online. Maybe one will show up later. I did find this video of Ravel and Peters performance recorded by someone at the games. It's not very good, but it will give you some idea of how it went.

Ravel and Steffen Peters Freestyle Dressage WEG 2010

Edward Gal on Moorlands Totilas won first in the Freestyle with a score of 91.80, despite Totilas breaking into a canter in the middle of a section of extended trot. And Laura Bectholscheimer on Mistral Hojris won second in the freestyle with a score of 85.35, despite having some very obvious problems in the piaffe. I'm far from expert, but I think it would be nice for the horses and riders who had equally difficult routines and who performed without blatantly obvious mistakes to score higher than the ones who did make extremely noticeable mistakes. Even the tv commentators and several online journalists commented on the fact that the scores did not seem to accurately reflect the performances given. And of course, there was the audience boo'ing of the score for Fuego XII. To borrow a line from 00Jumper commenting on Fuego XII's perfomance on the Chronicle of the Horse forum,
There was harmony! There was passion! There was fun!
And then . . . there was politics.

I'm not saying that Fuego should have won. I'll admit that his technique isn't as good as Totilas'. But I do believe that he should have scored higher. I've only been riding dressage a few years and know just enough to know how much I don't know. But based on the little I do know and, of course, on my own feelings and reactions to the rides, I think that Totilas and Gal, though they did have inflated scores (especially for artistry) still deserved first place, mainly for extremely strong technique. Ravel and Peters should have gotten second for their combination of cleanly presented technical complexity and smoothly delivered artistic performance. Fuego and Diaz, whose scores were deflated by Judge B's overly low scoring, should have gotten third for their explosion of artistry and showmanship combined with solid, though not brilliant, technique.

No, I don't think that Freestyle dressage should be all about flash and showmanship at the expense of technique. But the artistic score is there for a reason. It should be used appropriately, as a score that is completely separate from the technical score.

Yes, Totilas has great technique and should get high scores for it, but his artistry is somewhat lacking. And an obvious mistake such as going into a canter in the middle of a section of extended trot should have definitely brought his artistic score down for breaking up the flow of the performance. I personally think it should have brought his technical score down also, but apparently, it is accepted for judges to overlook such mistakes as far as technique is concerned.

And okay, Fuego's technique isn't the greatest, but his artistry almost brought down the stadium. He should get points for that. Yes, artistry is a somewhat subjective thing to judge, but it appears that most people who actually saw the performance believed that Fuego's artistic performance was better than anyone else's that evening. His artistic scores should have been higher. If the dressage world isn't willing to reward artistic performance as something separate from technique, they should just get rid of the artistic score altogether and admit that they are only interested in technique.

Oh well... On to other matters. Sadly, all the horses had their heads held behind the vertical throughout most if not all of their performances. Though some weren't quite as bad as others. At least the event judges did disqualify a couple of riders whose horses had blood dripping from their mouths during other dressage performances. I suppose that's progress of a sort.

If you have Time Warner Cable, you can watch the remainder of WEG 2010 on the Universal Sports Channel. If you have Dish or DirectTV, you only get 2 hours of WEG 2010 highlights on NBC next Sunday afternoon from 3pm to 5pm.

UPDATE: I just discovered that you can watch all of the freestyle dressage performances online at

The top five horses all perform in Part 3(last). Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris perform first. Juan Manuel Munoz Diaz and Fuego XII perform second, and their performance starts at the 12:25 minute mark. Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas perform third, and their performance starts at the 23 minute mark. Steffen Peters and Ravel perform fourth, and their performance starts at the 35 minute mark. Imke Shellekens-Bartels and Hunter Douglas Sunrise perform last, and their performance starts at the 47 minute mark.

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