Photo Report: The Flying Mane Squad and Other Stories from the 2024 CDIO Aachen

Wed, 07/10/2024 - 19:26
2024 CDIO Aachen
CHIO Aachen :: Photo © Barbara Schnell

--- Text and Photos © Barbara Schnell

At the end of the day, I‘m probably one of the photographers who take home the smallest number of images from Aachen every year. It‘s just the way I work. Sure, I enjoy watching competitions, and I also enjoy taking good competition photos, but what I love is watching people do their daily work with their horses. The mental and physical diversity of the combinations and the different ways they work on their different goals … it‘s fascinating and inspiring.

For some, the experience of riding in Aachen _was_ the goal, and they just gave their best to make it as enjoyable as they could for everyone involved. For some, Aachen was a last training stop before the Paris Olympics in three weeks. For others, Aachen was the last show to secure a ticket to Paris – and again, some took it more in stride than others.

Netz halts at X and scratches Camelot's withers
to reward his horse
There were lifelong works of art that finished Aachen with personal best scores and yet more promise of things to come. There were sudden new combinations that showed a steep improvement curve even during the week in Aachen. There were pairs that made every training session a miniature version of the classical training scale, and there were riders who are known for their idiosyncratic ways to reach the perfect picture just as reliably. There were trainers who are fantastic pragmatists, and there were trainers who turn philosophy into movement. And, of course, there were riders who had to deal with disappointment in the course of the show, and again some turned it into pressure, others into motivation.

I do take notice of the uglier aspects of the sport, which were present in Aachen, too, but there‘s too much to learn from the good ones to waste time and concentration (and data storage space) on the ones who are stuck in their ways. At the end of the day, the whole sport is a work in progress, and the journey never stops to be interesting.

Oh, and P.S.: I love the flying manes :-)

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