Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dressage in Bejing: Ay yay yay

Well, I wasn't going to mention Beijing or the Olympics in my blog -- mostly b/c everyone else is covering it better than I could hope to. But as it turns out, our team encountered a minor tragedy -- minor because no horse or rider perished. And when it comes to analyzing disaster and spewing half-baked opinion, I'm tough to beat. You've probably heard, Debbie McDonald's Brentina was "travelling unlevel," a phrase used for what we at the lower levels call "lame." The problem was covered in the equestrian tabloids.

I have to admit, when looking at an extravagant, fluid mover, it can be hard to diagnose a lameness problem. With Brentina, who is a game old girl, it's doubly hard. Her passages and piaffes were wonderful, and there were many nice moments. I don't doubt she jogged sound and she looked good warming up. I captured a nice moment in the picture above. But in the ring, most of the moments looked, well, syncopated.

Debbie's face was a barely disguised desire to die right then and there. It's the look I had for every dance recital I ever participated in, multiplied 1000 times. It was right there in her eyes, all the work and effort she put in personally, and everything it meant for the team and the sport in the U.S., and... That poor woman.

Brentina's breath was terribly labored and she had a rough go, but she'll be fine. From what I hear, she has broad sunlit pastures of Iowa or wherever to look forward to. Surely they won't breed her?

On to the analysis
I watched the NBC video three times and took some stills from the footage, so those of you who missed it might get a glimpse of what happened.

Hillary Clayton I'm not, most viewers posting to COTH felt there was apparent unevenness in the first trot extension, with the right front/left hind significantly shorter. The picture to the right was taken later, so technically it should be bigger than the one on the left if she is working into a big trot.

This is a fairly significant loss of balance at the canter pirouette.

This is the final passage, where Brentina gets "stabby" with her back end.

This was the beginning of what was supposed to be the final extended trot -- actually turned out to be something of a strung out passage. She seemed to be offering upward rather than forward as a sort of compromise.


  1. I am so sad for Debbie and Brentina - I just love that mare and it is heartbreaking to see her off.

  2. I think everyone feels bad for Debbie and Brentina. Brentina is an exceptional mare who has done her best so many times in the past, it is a hard thing to see her not feeling up to par. I hope she enjoys her retirement and I do hope they are not even thinking of breeding her. She deserves some rest and relaxation.

  3. DM has always struck me as such a class act, very un-diva like and horse centric.

    Brentina has paid her dues -- think she has had a history of repeated colics...

  4. I think the question is whether or not they use embryo transfer, not whether or not they breed her.

  5. I hope they don't try to breed her through traditional means -- can't imagine why they wouldn't do ET -- but I posed this question on COTH and some breeders have responded that 17 years isn't that old. She might be a fine mom but I wouldn't want to risk her retirement if I were her owner...


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