I had a really super ride on Four Seasons. I am normally very hesitant to ride someone else's trained horse and do any "fancy" movements when they are not around. But I gave him a very light day on Thursday, and he will have the weekend off. And I am here to learn, and he is most definitely my best teacher, so I decided to work on a little bit of everything. The canter work was really super, and I never saw his tongue out. I practiced the pirouettes on the circle first and then on the diagonal. They were quite good, although I had a hard time keeping him from over rotating, so they were often 380* or so instead of 360*. The changes were very good and easy.
I really feel like I got a better feeling for the trot work. While Four Seasons feels very good in the contact in piaffe and passage, he feels so strong in the collected trot work. But I had some much more effective half halts in the corners. I told Olli how good he was when I saw him in Verden, so now I have to make sure to do it again Monday!
We all went to Verden on Saturday - Jonathan, Linda, Daniel, and our friend Dan. Dan used to be a professional in the hunter jumper world in CA, and he still follows the show jumping world. Verden also has an international jumping competition going on next to the dressage, so this was perfect.
We got there around 10 am and watched some of the small final (consolation) for the 6 year olds. There was also a CDI Grand Prix going on in the other arena. In between these three (including the jumping stadium) is a humongous vendor village. So it's lots of fun to walk between the rings and see the different classes and do some "window shopping" along the way.
Hubertus Schmidt won the Grand Prix by a huge margin. It is always so wonderful to see him ride. He is one of my all time favorites to watch - so soft and harmonious and the horses always want to work for him. I didn't get to watch his warm up, unfortunately, but the test was really lovely. That stallion has an incredibly big and slow passage, and then a fairly quick, small piaffe, but Schmidt is a master at softly getting in and out of those transitions, and the canter work was so lovely. He ended up with a 77+, and the second place was 70.8. Catherine Haddad was the only GP rider for the US. She was fourth with a 70.7 and had a really nice ride.
The 5 year old finals started at 3, which was unfortunate, since my family was ready to leave around 2. But I made them stay through the American ride, which went at 3:30. Endel Ots did a beautiful job with his gelding, Lucky Strike. The horse has a limited walk, especially compared to the first two who went, but Endel rode so beautifully and the judges really emphasized that in their mark for submission. They talked about the harmony between horse and rider and how much the horse wanted to work for him. That was fantastic to hear, and Endel should be so proud to finish 11th in the world!
Today we explored the old center of Münster, and walked all around. We had some delicious food, took in the city museum, and had a lovely time strolling the promenade and chatting. Tomorrow it's back to lessons, and I'm really excited! This is my last week, so I want to make the most of it. I still have not decided yet if I will try to go to Aachen. Linda leaves tomorrow, and it's about a 2hr drive. I feel like I don't want to miss any more days of lessons, but I also feel silly to be two hours away from the European Championships and not go and watch one day!
Some images from our time in Muenster today...