Three of the Best #1-Dressage World Champions

Charlotte Dujardin WEG 2014
Credit : Scoopdyga

Friday 24 August - 10h29 | Lulu Kyriacou

Three of the Best #1-Dressage World Champions

The World Equestrian Games (WEG) are only three weeks away. Held every four years, they combined the world championships for seven disciplines. Over the next weeks Grand Prix will look at  great champions in some of these disciplines, beginning today with dressage.

Dr Reiner Klimke & Ahlerich

Dr Reiner Klimke & Ahlerich - Three of the Best #1-Dressage World Champions

Credit : Archive

Dr Reiner Klimke and Ahlerich were the World Champions in 1982 and became Olympic champions two years later. Klimle, who daughter Ingrid is the current individual  eventing champion of Europe,  had already won the title in 1974 riding Mehmed  but Ahlerich was something else.  Bought as a young horse at the Westphalian breed auctions for what was then a record price,  his appearance was always anticipated.  The horse was powerful and athletic  but it is worth remebering that both the sport and the horses competing in it were somewhat different 40 years ago. Ahleric does not  have the extravagant movement so common today but what he does have is classical correctness both in his movement and in the figures he executes.  By todays standards he might be considered to be slightly too far in front of the vertical, but this is correct according to classical texts.  The pair had the utmost harmony, making every movement appear as if  it were produced by magic. In those days to win the gold you had to be the best with a combined score from the Grand Prix and the Freestyle, which today are awarded separate medals. 

The pair did a great deal to raise the profile of dressage outside of Germany on the world stage. Sadly Dr Klimke died in 1999 at the relatively young age of 63, but not before writing several books on training the horse considered to be essential reading.

There is a video below of them competing at the 1984 Olympics  but remember when watching that the quality of the video is not so good as current videos with quite a lot of camera movement!

Edward Gal & Totilas

Edward Gal & Totilas - Three of the Best #1-Dressage World Champions

Credit : Scoopdyga

Edward Gal rode Totilas  to win both gold medals at the 2010 WEG in Lexington, Kentucky.  Gal and his horse revolutionised dressage in many ways.  They were awarded the highest mark of ten on a reular basis and so breaking all previous scoring records.  They became such superstars that they could sell out a show performance on their own with almost no supporting classes which at that time was unheard of.  For the purists, Totilas did not have the absolutely correct movement of Ahlerich, he was much more extravagant in fron than behind and his walk was not particularly special.  It could also be argued that the horse was a little short in his neck, almost coming behind the vertical, but the qualitiy of his collected work  was almost unbelievable.  Canter prirouettes seemed to float amnd piaffe and passage were dancing steps across the arena.

​Totilas and Gal were a controversial subject. Many judges and crtics believe that the paces he displayed were far from natural  and a result of using the now outlawed training technique of Rolkur.  Injuries plagued him and he missed out of the London 2012  Olympic Games and was offically retired in 2015.  Edward Gal has continued  to be at the forefront of Dutch dressage  riding horses such as Glocks Voice.

Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro

The World Champions of 2014 also added the Olympic title in 2016. Charlotte Dujardin  and Valegro semed to have it all, both the classical training and correct movement, combined with power and elegance.  Just when the dressage world thought they had seen the highest scores ever with Edward Gal and Totilas, Dujardin and  her partner raised the bar still higher.  Perhaps a little lucky at the 2012 Olympics when partiot ferver seems to wipe away the sight of a couple of mistakes compared to the foot perfect (and more technically difficult) freestyle of Adelinde Cornellisen and Jerichs Parzival, there was no mistking their superiority at Caen in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.  The British pair were not the fort to hold World, European and Olympic titles  at the same time (so did Reiner Klimke and Ahlerich) but they were the first to go on nd retain an Olympic title.    

Further reading...