Isabell Werth sublime in Stockholm Dressage Top 10

Credit : Roland Thunholm/Sweden International Horse Show

Monday 04 December - 15h19 | Ian Clayton

Isabell Werth sublime in Stockholm Dressage Top 10

Stockholmers call their city ‘beauty on water.’ But this weekend there was added elegance in the Swedish capital, where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea.

 - Isabell Werth sublime in Stockholm Dressage Top 10

World No.1 Dressage rider Isabell Werth of Germany and Emilio 107 claimed victory in the inaugural Saab Top 10 Dressage competition at the 2017 Sweden International Horse Show, as many of the planet’s best human and horse athletes in the discipline faced off in front of a knowledgeable local crowd. 

The Top 10 showdown in Dressage was conceived as a similar competition to the elite Show Jumping Top 10 at the Geneva International Horse Show. And the new Dressage competition has received substantial sponsorship from Saab, with €148,000 distributed to the top finishers — a first in a discipline which has historically had relatively low prize money. For her first place at the city’s Friends Arena, for example, the much-decorated Olympian Werth collected €45,000 and a Volkswagen Tiguan vehicle. 

"I'm really proud and it’s an honor to be the very first champion of Saab Top 10 Dressage," the German rider said after pulling off a combined score of 86.875%. "We, as riders, are so happy that we found a sponsor in Saab that supports us in this Final; the whole package is perfect!"

Werth added that the setting for the event, as well as her 11-year-old gelding’s response to it, was ideal: "The way Emilio did it today was perfect; it’s not easy to warm up here, there is a lot to see and hear. I’m very happy with this weekend. It’s something special with this audience here in Stockholm, they have the exact feeling of when they can clap or not and this gave us just a super finish." 

Patrik Kittel of Sweden and his mare Deja were second, with a total of 83,000%. Kittel had reason to be doubly proud on the day, not only with his second place before the home crowd, but also because Kittel was one of the main organizers of the Top Ten competition. 

"The coolest thing for me was that when you work with something for a very long time and it comes out like this," he said, "like all I have been hoping for… It is really a very good day at the office!" And speaking of his partner, he noted that, "Deja is a very soft horse with a heart of gold. For me today it was so much power in everything, from audience, to judges, horses and riders." Third place went to Werth’s German compatriot Helen Langehanenberg on Damsey FRH, who ended with a score of 82.665%. The full results are here. 

While some of the world's best Dressage riders were not in Scandinavia this weekend, including the U.S.’s Laura Graves and Great Britain’s Carl Hester. the field was strong and several riders present received a share of the prize money, distributed as follows: €45,000, 30,000, 20,000, 15,000, 10,000, 8,000, 5,000, 5,000, 5,000, and 5,000. Organizers are hoping to increase those totals for future editions. 

The history of Dressage is said to go back to ancient Greece, where military officers trained their horses how to manoeuvre in battle. In Dressage, different ‘tests’, or series of movements are judged using criteria corresponding to the difficulty of the techniques, as in figure skating. The movements, with names like the ‘Passage’ (a rhythmic trotting motion), the ‘Pirouette’, ‘Flying Change of Leg’ and ‘Half-pass’ are rooted in the centuries-old training system of the Imperial Spanish Riding School of Vienna, established in the 16th century.

Dressage scoring has been explained as follows: “Collective marks are given after the rider has completes his/her test. These marks are also based on the 0-10 scoring scale and are based upon gaits, impulsion, submission and the rider’s position and seat. These marks are also given a coefficient, since these areas represent the natural and training ability of the horse and rider combined. The following describes each element: "Gaits: the freedom and regularity of the horse’s movement. Impulsion: the horse’s desire to move forward, elasticity of steps, roundness. Submission: the horse’s attention and confidence. Harmony with rider, lightness of movements and acceptance of the bit. Rider’s seat and position: correctness and effect of aids." Photo below: central Stockholm (Pixabay free photos)

 - Isabell Werth sublime in Stockholm Dressage Top 10

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