Dressage Begins at the 2016 Olympics in Rio

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Dressage competition got underway today at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The first team and individual riders completed their grand prix tests under steel-gray skies and rain started to fall on the Olympic Equestrian Center by afternoon. Half of the field rode their tests today and the remaining half will compete tomorrow beginning at 9:00 a.m. ET.

Allison Brock and her stunning Hanoverian Stallion, Rosevelt, were the first horse-and-rider pair for the American Team. The pair earned good marks from the judges in their Olympic debut, only suffering a bit in the two-tempis early in the ride. A total score 72.686% put them near the top of the leaderboard for the remainder of the morning session.

Kasey Perry-Glass and her 13-year-old gelding Dublet were next for the U.S. If this horse-and-rider pair was nervous about their Olympic debut, they didn’t show it at all. They earned good marks with plenty of 8s for their passage and piaffe work—challenging elements that had lost points for many competitors earlier in the day. A solid 75.229 moved them into third position, though not for long.

Dutch rider Edward Gal, legendary for his unprecedented high scores and winning streak with the stallion Totilas in 2009 and 2010, rode his current mount, Voice, after Perry-Glass and managed to just edge ahead with a 75.271.

Germany’s Dorothee Schneider followed on Showtime FRH and turned in by far the best test of the day, scoring an 80.986 to land a solid lead ahead of teammate Sonke Rothenberger and Cosmo, currently in second. Great Britain’s Fiona Bigwood currently stands in third with Orthilia on a score of 77.157.

On the team side, Germany has a fairly comfortable lead over second-placed Netherlands. Reigning Olympic gold medalists Great Britain are in third, less than a point ahead of the fourth-placed Americans.

One major shake-up to the expected dressage result was the withdrawal of the veteran gelding Parzival by Dutch rider Adelinde Cornelissen. Parzival had apparently been bitten by an insect or spider in the barn overnight and was running a fever. Initially Cornelissen was going to get him through the test in order to post a score for her team, but mid-test realized that he was still feeling poorly and opted to retire him rather than push him through the remainder of the ride.

The strongest horse-and-rider pairs will have their first chance in the ring tomorrow, with Americans Laura Graves and Verdades and Steffen Peters and Legolas 92 on the “ones to watch” list. But everyone’s attention will be on reigning individual Olympic gold medalists and holders-of-every-grand-prix-record, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro of Great Britain.

Find out how to watch dressage at the 2016 Rio Olympics here.

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