Beautifully Orchestrated Horse Inspection Kicks off 2021 Olympic Dressage Competition

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 16:58
2021 Olympic Games
Charlotte Dujardin and Gio at the horse inspection for the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo :: Photo © Astrid Appels

A beautifully orchestrated horse inspection held on the hot Friday morning of 23 July 2021 kicked off the first equestrian competition at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. 

A wonderful trot up area was created by the tireless staff of the Baji Koen equestrian centre, owned by the Japan Racing Association. Gorgeous purple flowers decorated the long sides and circle ending of the trot up lane, on which dark brown footing provided a safe underground for the horses to walk and trot on. A high energy Japanese staff member raked the footing tirelessly so that the strip was immaculate for presentation between horses. 

Beautiful Trot Up

The officials - judges, vets and show office staff - are all decked out in official attire with blue jackets, white shirts and a tasteful red scarf for the ladies and tie for the gentlemen. The horse inspection ran smoothly with the English language announcer welcoming each horse to the stage, followed by a short Japanese introduction. 

Belgian Larissa Pauluis with Flambeau
The horses were presented by country in alphabetical order, so the first to go was Australia, followed by Austrian and Belgium. The horses looked spick and span, all groomed to perfection and unlike CDI's where the trend is to no longer braid the horses and arrive in dirty breeches, at the Olympics it's a true fashion show of Olympic garments. The best dressed award was certainly a tie between Belgium, where the female riders wore cool Belgian Caroline Biss designed jumpsuits (the men wore Scabal suits), while the Canadian riders rocked white trousers with a cool, almost rebellious Hudson’s Bay jeans jacket on which Canada/Tokyo was action-painted on the back. The Dutch were certainly a good runner-up when it comes to fashion with their stylish pinstriped cream suits designed by Piet Parra.

Most importantly, of course, is the health of the horses. Several riders had to trot up their horses twice, mainly because the horses were impressed by the armada of photographers on the short side and they threw their anchor out just  a few meters after being presented in halt. The second run always went better and overall there was not too much jumping around, bucking or rearing to be seen. 

No Reserve for the USA

USA's Steffen Peters in Ralph Lauren with Suppenkasper
One horse did not show up at the vet inspection: Team USA's reserve horse Don John (Nick Wagman).

Wagman told Eurodressage that, "upon arriving to Tokyo he sustained a minor injury. Everyone has been working hard to remedy the situation, and even though today we believe he would pass the jog without problem, we all feel it’s not worth risking his recovery. It is an enormous disappointment, as we have worked so hard to get here. I am beyond proud to be part of this team, as they have shown me overwhelming support and encouragement, and I’m honored to stand by the arena and cheer them on."

Two to the Holding Box

For Hot Chocolat van de Kwaplas the Games are over
A few horses appeared a bit tender on the legs or less "rhythmical" in hand, but were passed. The two horses that were most clearly off went to the holding box. 

Unfortunately both those horses come from the same stable: Isabelle Pinto's Hot Chocolate van de Kwaplas, competing for France, and her husband Carlos Pinto's Sultao Mezenes, who is the travelling reserve for Portugal. 

The Lusitano Sultao Menezes was re-presented at the end of the trot-up but he will be re-inspected in the morning of 24 July as a final chance. 

Isabelle Pinto's Hot Chocolate was not represented after the holding box, and will not be re-inspected tomorrow. 

Starting Order for the Grand Prix

Hiroyuki Kitahara (JPN) with Huracan. This horse is owned
by the Japan Racing Association, who also own the Bajo
Koen Olympic show ground
With the brand new heat system for the Grand Prix, the starting order has been under much speculation as how it should go. In principle, a straight forward order of go was decided upon based on the World Ranking, but a few rules that prevents clashes from riders of the same nation in the heat, as well as the withdrawal of several horses (Ramoneur, Well Done de la Roche) complicated the drafting of this starting order. 

The starters list will be posted soon. The first three heats of riders will compete tomorrow 24 July 2021 in Group 1 of the Grand Prix, the individual and team qualifier. The Grand Prix starts at 17h00 JST so that temperatures will be cooler for the horses.

Text and Photos © Astrid Appels - No Reproduction Allowed!!

Related Link
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2021 Olympic Games