Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Prix St. George test: What's missing here?

Tension. Tension is missing, and that's a good thing. This is Heather Blitz and Paragon, my current favorite dressage horse, doing a Prix St. George test.

Heather Blitz and Paragon (by Don Schufro)

At 18 hands and 7 year old, Paragon is probably just now getting his adult musculature -- he doesn't look filled out yet. Donnerhall offspring are often late in maturing, and I think Paragon might lack the strength to sit down and power through the pirouette. What is amazing about this ride is the ease, the beautiful expressive movement, and the lightness of the rein. I look forward to seeing more of this partnership.


  1. interesting.
    Long back. Wow. Hard to tell how far under himself he's actually stepping because damn - long back. :)

    I'd be interested in the score for this test - riden correctly.

    The biggest issue is something we're seeing with two horses at our barn - in the left half pass at the trot, the horse gets "hitchy" for lack of a better word... watch the left front foot - it almost gets passage-y while the right moves more fluid. This is often a sign of tension or pain, and given the age of the horse, likely tension.

    Though the fact he doesn't do it the other way, could indicate some pain issues. Every now and then he does it at the trot, but its exceptionally clear in the half pass.

    Other than that, really lovely to watch. I'd expect more up hill in the collected canter, but since he's so big, I can't really say its not correct.

    :) Thanks for sharing!

  2. He is very lovely.
    However I see a teeny hint of that weird gait at the trot. Now that you posted on gaits I have started to look at a lot of upper level dressage horses and I am seeing that. Look at a horse from 5-10 years ago and you don't.

  3. How tall is the dag-on rider? He doesn't look 18 hands at all!

  4. Lovely relaxation, especially in the tempi changes which can really rev a horse up.

    The trot gets passagey now and then, and I'd like to see more from the hind end in the extended trot, but hey, the test rightfully scored 76.8%--well deserved. Really some lovely moments.

    He is quite some good looking horse, and really impressive in the arena. I can see why you like him so much.

  5. This competition footage *is* different from the at-home footage of this horse -- more contained, more syncopated (passagey?). I'm told that the hallmark of a passagey trot is that it is "stuck" -- can't go forward or collect. I didn't see Paragon as stuck, but I agree there is something less satisfying to watch about this video. He's so big to be navigating that tiny ring, I'm going to guess he's struggling with that. It may inform the discussion to look at footage of his dad, Don Schufro:

  6. Beautiful animal and lovely, tactful rider. At 18 hands and still young, I am impressed that he carried himself around the ring so delicately.

    Since this is PSG not GP, I am not sure that it is fair to pick apart the performance too much. However, the trot looked "showy" in front on two tracks and then locked up in the halfpass. There was some serious head-nodding in the free/extended walk. The walk actually caught my eye the most as an indication of some tension.

    I liked the flying changes the best. If only I should be so lucky as to have a horse of this caliber, imperfections and all!

  7. Paragon is young, he's like a teenager.
    I mean come on he just finished growing, and he's only seven, he will probably fill out more. And i think the wind was freaking him out a bit, he gets a little nervous sometimes, but heather is such an awesome rider that you can't really tell.

  8. I know from reading COTH that NO video can be posted without receiving critiques :-). Heck, people are picking Totilas and Matine apart!

    My big concern is that if we (meaning the Internet community) get too critical Heather will stop sharing these wonderful videos. I love the horse. He is young. This partnership is developing into something. I agree with Val, it's very easy to get too granular in one's analysis, but I do enjoy reading others' perspectives.

  9. I think my favorite part is the canter extension at the end. Love this horse!

  10. I think the score (didn't some say it was in the mid 70s?) speaks for itself if this was an "S" qualified, USDF/FEI/USEF approved show....

    Regardless of critques, the people who know and have trained for decades are the true experts - and they are the ones who handed down the 76%. Just because I skate and can watch videos of skaters, does not mean I know more than the East German judge at the olympics.

    YAY for her posting this - and YAY for ALL the riders who participate in judges schools and those currently riding the latests USDF tests... Thank you for sharing your horse with us, and allowing us to critique TO BETTER OURSELVES. Much Much THANKS!

    And frankly, if I scored a 76+% at PSG, I would be bragging my ASS off.

  11. Beautiful ride even with a few faults or quirks or whatever they were. I am amazed that he is 18hh!! and Heather looks perfect for him! Not to small on him at all!

    Am also really thankful that these wonderful riders are willing to share their rides with us. Not to long ago we would have to buy an expensive video tape or have not have any access at all. One of the perks of the internet age!


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