All entrants pass the horse inspection, are ready for tomorrow’s Grand Prix in the FEI World Cup Dressage Final Omaha 2023
Story and photos by Jennifer O. Bryant
Competition organizers blamed today’s glitchy Wi-Fi on the demand created by the unexpectedly large number of spectators who came to watch, among others, the 16 dressage horse-and-rider pairs from 10 nations who have come to the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska, to contest the FEI World Cup Dressage Final Omaha 2023 presented by Havensafe Farm.
It’s the city’s second time hosting the World Cup Finals (dressage and jumping were held here in 2017, to widespread acclaim). This time around, there was nary a word of skepticism about the world’s equestrian elite in dressage, jumping, and (new for 2023) vaulting convening in a modest midwestern US city.
In 2017, Omaha had us at its stunning 1.1 million-square-feet indoor sports arena-slash-convention center. There’s also the fact that many equestrian enthusiasts live in the heartland of the US, and those fans jump at any opportunity to watch live the horses and athletes they usually see only in magazines and online.
The 2023 dressage competition got under way today with three hours of “arena familiarization,” during which time horses and riders in groups of two or three each got 30 minutes to school in the competition arena. The 18,000-seat indoor stadium puts the spectators excitingly close to the action, and the “electric” atmosphere can take horses some getting used to. But this year’s field handled the arena like the seasoned veterans they all are, and spectators thrilled to watch Germany’s Isabell Werth on DSP Quantaz practice halting at C as in the Grand Prix test, and 2022 FEI World Dressage Championships bronze medalist Dinja van Liere of the Netherlands vary the pressure aboard Hermes N.O.P. until the horse released some of his tension going past the glittering Final trophy on display beside the ring.
A little more than three hours later, the competitors reappeared for the dressage horse inspection, the horses freshly braided and polished to a shine. The “jog” often is the scene of overexuberant behavior, but today the horses were mostly calm, perhaps the result of having worked already. Hermes N.O.P. got sent to the holding box but was accepted on reinspection. In her first World Cup Dressage Final appearance, Alice Tarjan of the USA was asked to jog Serenade MF a second time and then was accepted into the competition by the FEI officials, who included the head of the ground jury, US FEI 5* judge Janet Foy.
(Did you know that Serenade MF is an American-bred? The 2013 Hanoverian mare [Sir Donnerhall – Duet MF, Don Principe] was bred by Maryanna Haymon, owner of Marydell Farm in Columbus, North Carolina.)
Next up: The Grand Prix
Ready for tomorrow? The Grand Prix commences tomorrow, April 5, at 1:15 p.m. CDT. The scores actually don’t count toward the final placings; the Grand Prix serves only as a qualifier for the class that decides the champion, the Grand Prix Freestyle. Find the full schedule for dressage, jumping, and vaulting at longinestiming.com/equestrian/2023/fei-world-cup-finals-omaha-omaha-ne/#area5.
Jennifer Bryant is the editor of USDF Connection.
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