Tokyo Takeaways on StreamHorseTV — In this series, StreamHorseTV will be talking Tokyo Equestrian with the lovely and knowledgeable Catie Staszak, international Show Jumping commentator, multimedia sports journalist, and CEO of Catie Staszak Media—and The Plaid Horse‘s Show Jumping Content Manager and Plaidcast co-host! Staszak and StreamHorseTV Director of Content Natalie Mayrath, will provide discussion, insight and commentary around all the action happening on the ground during the Tokyo Olympic Equestrian Competitions.
In this installment, Staszak recounts the thrills of watching the Dressage competition live and comments on the impressive medal record Charlotte Dujardin now holds for Great Britain. She also explains what surprised her about Phillip Dutton’s feedback on the cross-country course, as we play a clip of Dutton’s Diaries.
Team USA Dressage Puts Up Their Best Finish In 73 Years
Dressage is often deemed “horse-dancing” as it features rhythmic footwork, pirouettes and otherwise fancy moves that the horses display in a routine set to music in the arena. In Tokyo’s final Dressage round, Team USA’s horses danced like nobody was watching.
The team of Adrienne Lyle on Salvino, Steffen Peters on Suppenkasper and Sabine Schut-Kery on Sanceo rode to team silver, the best U.S. finish in 73 years.
Staszak commends the ground-shattering performance of German-born US rider Schut-Kery, who has been an elite Dressage competitor for many years, in her first Olympics with the horse she has brought up since 3 years of age. She rode the test of her life, earning an 81.59%—a massive personal best in the finals. Staszak calls Schut-Kery, of Napa, California, an “American hero” of these Olympic games.
Staszak describes her jubilation watching at home: “I was cheering at the screen,” she recounts. “It was a historic moment,” she adds, crediting the incredible partnership of Schut-Kery and Sanceo. “It’s undeniable, really. They know each other inside and out, and that is an advantage, and they proved that.”
Myrath gushed that her favorite quote of the day came from Steffen Peters, who said he “cried when I came out, gave Mopsie a big hug and just thanked him from the bottom of my heart,” referring to his not large, but giant, 18.2 hand mount Suppenkasper.
Peters also got emotional watching Schut-Kery throw down the score of a lifetime. “For me to experience this after five Olympic Games, and witnessing the last three minutes, in sobbing tears, of Sabine’s test, was an incredible moment. That I can still get so emotional at 57 years old shows how badly I still want this and really still enjoy it.”
Germany has won every Olympic dressage team gold since 1984, except for Great Britain edging them out in 2012, (which Staszak points out has a lot to do with the legendary wonder horse Valegro), and they made no exceptions at these games, taking the gold home again in the team competition. Their trio of riders included Isabell Werth, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, who set an Olympic record, and Dorothee Schneider, who was in a traumatic riding accident when her horse died underneath her just several weeks before the Olympics.
Format changes seemed a success, according to Staszak. “New to the Grand Prix Special was the addition of (non-judged) music, which with no spectators in the stands, certainly helped create more atmosphere in the arena. Peters, known for his choreography, rode his test to a brilliant compilation that included Coldplay’s Fix You and Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars,” she reports.
How Heat Is Affecting The Horses
The heat in Japan has been a major question and concern in the lead-up for the Tokyo Games, even before the year-long postponement went into effect. Mayrath commented that the Dressage horses indeed looked sweaty, and Staszak explained that the Tokyo officials are pulling out all the stops in keeping the horses cool, comfortable and safe. The schedules have intentionally been fashioned in the AM and PM hours in avoidance of midday heat.
Great Britain’s Dujardin Sets an Olympic Medal Record
There is no joke about Valegro – Charlotte Dujardin’s powerhouse, extraordinary mount in the London 2012 and Rio 2016 games – being the GOAT of Dressage.
He is a record-shattering steed in the Dressage ring, having secured his spot amongst the immortal (Yes, he holds the Guinness World Record for top Dressage score ever, ridden by none other than Dujardin). But Dujardin just surpassed a rower and a tennis player for the most medals for a British female in Olympic history. And she did it on a 10-year-old named Gio, who quite recently was named as her 2nd-string horse for these games. Staszak explained the significance of this performance by an extremely young horse by Dressage standards, and the rider who clearly didn’t just get lucky with her former mount.
Phillip Dutton’s First Look at the Cross-Country Course
In an excerpt of StreamHorseTV’s “Dutton’s Diaries” legendary eventer Phillip Dutton shared his initial take after walking the course, and it’s not what we expected. Staszak gave her reaction to what she heard.
Watch THE FULL episode to hear the qualities that Staszak believes make Steffen Peters such a phenomenal horseman, who was “a head-scratcher” for her in the Dressage phase, our reaction to Phillip’s cross-country course report, and preview the toughest-looking countries in eventing. For Team USA and all of the competing countries, we wish everyone a safe and successful ride in these Olympic Games!
Join us again in the coming days for Episode #3, where we will find out if the cross-country course will topple the Eventing Dressage leaderboard, and how the horses and humans in Tokyo are doing without their families or spectators on-hand!