Full Steam Ahead to the 2021 World Young Horse Championships

Tue, 08/24/2021 - 23:32
2021 World Young Horse Championships
Urte Balciunaite and Valverdi (OLD, by Vivaldi x Furst Romancier at the horse inspection for the 2021 World Young Horse Championships :: Photo © Astrid Appels

The summer of 2021 is fierce ! Maybe the weather is not as hot and dry in Western Europe as expected but when it comes to international dressage championships the heat is on. 

After the 2021 European Children, Junior and Young Riders' Championships in Oliva Nova and the Olympic Games in Tokyo, there was brief respite before the European Pony Championships in Strzegom and from there it's full speed ahead to the 2021 World Young Horse Championships in Verden, almost immediately followed by European Dressage Championships for seniors and Under 25 in Hagen and then concluding with the CDIO Aachen. It even takes several breaths to write that long sentence  and that's how this summer feels like. 

Verden Gets the Chance to Prove Itself

For the first time in six years the WCYH returns to its original show grounds in Verden, Germany. For four years this magical show was relocated to Ermelo, The Netherlands, just as a matter of change in venue for such a global championship and then in 2020 corona put a spanner in the works. 

Libuse Mencke on Kycara
Verden now gets its chance to prove itself again in 2021 and has pulled out the stops by revamping the entire show grounds. The location of the arenas is totally different as a new racetrack has been built on the outdoor grass park. The ring, where the old championships were, is now reserved as warm up arena for the side classes (Nurnberger Burgpokal, etc.) and in the middle where the trade fair used to be is now the main arena. Lots of white sand, lots of white tents (yes the traditional tent with the long tables is back as well as a big covered seating area for the 500 lucky ticket-holders each day). And and then of course what would a horse show be like without its ugly multi-coloured advertisement banners wrapping the arena.Sorry, this is my photographer's eye speaking. You have to search for something green in the distance and the flower decorations around the arena are kept to an absolute minimum. Not sure if this is a budget issue or just a question of taste. OK, when it comes to styling your championship arena, Ermelo wins this battle. 

Still let's not complain too much before the event has even started and of course the quality of the horses (and riding) is what matters in the end, although I do prefer taking pictures of pretty horses in a pretty arena. The footing looks fine and that's what often matters to the riders. 

Arriving for the Trot Up

It's Tuesday 24 August and the day started with a 4-hour drive to Verden. The trip took less long that it usually feels thanks to the great company of my co-passenger, Lily Forado, who flew in from Spain to work the WCYH for the PRE studbook ANCCE. We arrived at the show round 13h30 and explored the venue and new layout of the arenas before the horse inspection started for the 6-year olds.

Charlotte Chalvignac and Parodie ter Dolen at the
vet check
The trot-up took place in one of the three indoors and it was staggering to see quite a lot of year-long  (!!) dressage professionals appear absolutely clueless of how a trot up work. It's a three easy steps: step 1: halt your horse in front of the judges so they can assess if the markings correspond with the FEI passport and there are no apparent health issues, step 2: walk for five meters and then trot to the end of the arena where you see a huge flower pot; step 3: turn round the flower pot in walk, to the right, and then trot back towards the judges. Tataaa.. that's all.. And please make an effort to braid your horse at a World Championships !! Be proud of the horse you present. Thank you.

Some of the youngsters were quite full of themself and were snorting and screaming, bucking and jumping around but overall most of them were on perfect behaviour and the jog went super smoothly, with only one horse sent to the holding box, but then passing the re-inspection. One combination, Yvonne Osterholm and the Swedish bred Quercus (by Quaterback x Don Schufro), withdrew from the inspection.

The day ended with arena familiarisation for the 6-year olds in the main stadium, after which Lily and I connected with Austrian photographer Petra Kerschbaum and went to the local Italian for dinner. 

Let the Championships begin!

Photos © Astrid Appels - No Reproduction allowed
Eurodressage is all week in Verden taking photos of all WCYH riders. If you are interested in photos for social media or prints, send us an email. 

Related Link
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2021 World Championships Young Dressage Horses