Helen Erbe and Medal Magnet Carlos Capture Kur Gold at 2023 European Under 25 Championships

Sun, 07/16/2023 - 23:48
2023 European Young Riders and Under 25 Championships
The Kur podium with Hendricks Erbe and Luiten at the 2023 European Under 25 Championships :: Photo © Anett Somogyvari

- Text © Eurodressage (this article expresses Eurodressage's' eye-witness account and opinion about the competition)
- Photos © Anett Somogyvari  

Germany's Helen Erbe experienced the wonders of medal magnet Carlos FRH and concluded her run at the 2023 European Under 25 Championships with a kur gold medal on Sunday afternoon 16 July 2023.

After team gold and individual bronze, Erbe picked up a second gold medal in the freestyle, while Felicitas Hendricks got silver and Marten Luiten bronze. 

The Kur to Music featured 18 pairs and took place in hot and heavy weather at Stable Unikornis in Pilisjaszfalu, a small hamlet north of Budapest. The yard is owned by Arie Yom-Tov who has saved the FEI's biscuit on numerous occasions hosting the European Youth Championships in 2020, the European Children and Under 25 Championships in 2022, and now again the Young Riders and U25 Euros in 2023. 

Medal Magnet Carlos

Helen Erbe and Carlos are the European U25 Kur Champions
The 16-year old Rhinelander gelding Carlos FRH (by Carabas. x Weltmeyer) is a true family horse and a proven medal magnet for sisters Hannah and Helen Erbe. The horse has competed at no less than 6 (!!) European Youth Championships and picked up 13 medals, so far. 

Elder sister Hannah Erbe began by winning individual and team test gold at the 2015 European Junior Championships in Vidauban, in 2016 it was triple junior gold in Oliva Nova. In 2017 it was triple gold at the European Young Riders Championships in Roosendaal. In 2020 Hannah got Under 25 team gold but was individually 5th. Helen took over in 2022 and she rode him to Under 25 team gold medal and 9th individually at the Euros in Budapest, this year they returned to Hungary for team gold, individual bronze and kur gold. 

Helen Erbe and medal magnet Carlos
Helen and Carlos were on best form this week in their freestyle. Riding to music by Spandau Ballet and Alphaville the passage looked fresher today, the floorplan was complex with a canter zig zag, two tempi changes on the circle and  super straight ones. Erbe often appears to have her lower leg far off the horse and at times the leg aids become visible, but overall in the contact the horse is steady and foaming. The extended walk did not have the greatest ground cover but was well ridden with enough relaxation. They finished with a piaffe pirouette and extended trot.  It was a very nice test with an intelligent floorplan showing a horse that is well schooled. 

They received a personal best score of 80,410% from judges Alban Tissot, Annette Fransén Iacobaéus,  Henning Lehrmann, Elisabeth Max-Theurer, and Clive Halsall. Four judges had the pair first, only German judge Lehrmann saw them third. 

"I have no words for my unbelievable Carl," said a thrilled Helen. "Never before has a horse fought for me so much. I'm full of love and gratitude for the many incredibly beautiful moments Carlos has given us. He is one of a kind."

No Shame in Silver

Felicitas Hendricks on Drombusch
Felicitas Hendricks could not make it a triple, but based on the expression on her face, she seemed equally happy with Kur silver.

The German team newcomer rode to Motown tunes, including Shirley & Company's Shame Shame Shame but finished with some INXS. Her floorplan highlight the strong points of her 12-year old Oldenburg Drombusch (by Destano x Dimaggio).  They had a very nice start with piaffes on the spot and in rhythm and very regular passage work. The piaffe was not big, but correct. There were passage half passes, piaffe pirouettes and turns. The horse broke into canter on the short side and again in the extended trot, which probably kept them from winning. Drombusch is not the biggest walker but executed the collected and extended correctly. Also through the canter work the horse presented a steady picture, always quiet in the contact. The tempi changes were straight; but some seemed a bit short behind to the right. It was a very thought through test. 

She scored a personal best of 79,105% with individual marks going from 77.625% (Tissot) to 82.125% (Lehrmann).

Luiten Gets Bronze

Marten Luiten on Fynona
It is no secret that Dutch Marten Luiten is an intelligent rider and his freestyle choreography and music exemplify that.  Riding to fun 1980s hits with an vocal introduction as he travels the first centerline, Luiten sets the tone of what is to come.

Willeke Bos' 13-year old KWPN mare Fynona (by Ampere x Gribaldi) is not the biggest mover, but has a very strong canter tour and Luiten rides her with such precision. The half passes were sweeping, the trot extensions were some of the best the horse showed all week and the extended walk featured nice active marching and was clear in the rhythm. There was plenty of difficulty in the canter half pass-double pirouette sequence, but there was a mistake in the one tempi line, which he fixed on the joker line. The two's were correct but the rider was swinging heavily in the saddle, not so pretty (7.5 - 8.0). Fynona's weak spot is the passage: it's a slowed down trot, not really showing the proper engagement for collection. Two of the piaffes were performed on the track for support, one was a nice piaffe turn at X at the end of the ride. The end halt was not square (scored 7 and 8s, one judge had it at 6.5).

They were rewarded with 78.510%, with marks between 77 and 79 percent. 

Danes in the Top 5

Thea Bech on Dionisos
While the Danes celebrated success in the Young Riders competition with team gold and Helgstrand's Kur silver, in the Under 25 division there was only team silver but no individual medals. Last year's double bronze medal winner Thea Bech came close this year, twice finishing fourth. 

Riding to non-descript beating drums at the start of her freestyle, the tunes moved to more meaningful sounds when  the lyrics "You Are the Music in Me" from High School Musical came out of the speaker. Thea's15-year old KWPN bred Dionisos (by Spielberg x Sir Sinclair) is a piaffe-passage machine, showing some of the best pi-pi work at this competition. Lots of piaffe on the spot, piaffe fans, piaffe pirouettes, etc. The collected walk was good (to piano music), the extended did not have enough overtrack. In the canter the horse appeared a bit flat and was being chased into the first extension. The tempi changes were straight, but the there mistakes on the joker line.  Thea received 76.990% but three judges had her on 75% and Lehrmann on 80.75% (2nd).

Caroline Elsner on Alskenz Firfod
The top five was completed by Danish Caroline Elsner on the 16-year old Danish bred Alskenz Firfod (by Zardin Firfod x Zalmiak Firfod). The 25-year old Elsner, who is a student of Joachim Thomsen, has been competing the black gelding internationally since 2016. he took her from juniors into U25 Grand Prix. They were members of the Danish team at the 2016 European Junior Riders Championships (13th in the Kur); 2018 European Young Riders Championships (23rd in the individual test), and 2019 European Young Riders Championships (53rd in the individual test). Unwavering dedication to her horse has now paid off with a team silver and fifth place in the freestyle. Although riding to music from Pirates of the Caribbean does not give her bonus points for originality, Elsner and Alskenz stood out with a sweet first piaffe turn in which the horse properly took the weight behind. The first trot extension was a bit on the forehand and the passage at times could be more even behind, but overall it was a fluent ride with a very nice right double pirouette. They scored a person best of 75.475%

From Hungary to Austria

The 2023 European Junior and Young Riders Championships came to a conclusion on Sunday afternoon with the two freestyle finals. Unfortunately there weren't that many people left to root and cheer for the best riders as many of those who did not make it through to Sunday began their exodus home on Saturday, leaving a rather empty feeling and lac of cameraderie at the show grounds.

The 2024 European Young Riders and Under 25 Championships have been allocated to St. Margarethen in Austria, so that will be the meeting place next year... if all goes well with the organisation.

- Text © Eurodressage (this article expresses Eurodressage's' eye-witness account and opinion about the competition)
- Photos © Anett Somogyvari  

Related Links
Scores: 2023 European Young Rider / Under 25 Championships
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2023 European Young Riders/Under 25 Championships