Friday at World Cup was a break day for the big horses, but there was still a lot going on.
First there were Pas De Deux rides. Debbie McDonald and Adrienne Lyle on Felix and Wizard respectively, went first, and I give them a lot of credit. Debbie hasn’t been riding, and I’m told that even though Felix and Wizard look like twins separated at birth, I’m told that the two horses just don’t see eye to eye. But the two teams looked dramatic in their Spanish-inspired costumes. Then Charlotte Bredahl and Liberty Light, and Charlotte Nielson on Mid West Dacapo did a disco ride complete with Saturday Night Fever moves. I know that Charlotte B only just started riding Liberty Light, who was recently purchased by my good friend and fellow artist Cathey Cadieux, and I’ve heard that Charlotte N hasn’t had much time in the acquaintance of Dacapo.
But what really brought the house down was Guenter Seidel riding Marie Meyer’s Fandango and Elizabeth Ball on Eckstein Farm’s Orion riding to Phantom of the Opera music. Beth and Guenter are student and teacher and also good friends, and it was obvious that they’ve worked their butts off on this ride. Counter changes of hand at the half pass, so close together that I head stirrups clink, passage, piaffe and extended trot in perfect step with each other. And did I mention the dress? Beth, al la Christine, was wearing a wedding dress with a huge train, and I’m told that they used magic to keep it in place covering Orion’s rump. Guenter was the Phantom, and he rode with a rose hidden in his sleeve, which he presented to Beth as they passaged up their final centerline.
There was a young horse exhibition, too, with Steffen Peters riding the 4 year old Zidane, and 6 year olds Wynton, Valeska DG and Big Tyme, ridden by Edward Gal, Willy Arts and Marissa Festerling respectively. It was great to see these talented youngsters, and great for the youngsters to have the opportunity to have the experience in that electric ring. Linda Zang did a great job of explaining the rationale behind the Young Horse program and commenting on the individual performances.
And then there was the emotional watershed of the day, Brentina’s retirement ceremony. The ring went dark, and Debbie rode the big mare into a single spotlight. It only took a moment before I saw her reach up to dab her eyes, and then Brian O’Connor started to read the farewell address that Debbie had written from Brentina’s point of view, but couldn’t finish it because he too was choked up, and that was about the time that I think every photographer around the ring was having just a little trouble focusing their lenses, because it’s hard to do that when your eyes are tearing up. The Thomas family was all waiting at center ring, where the mare’s saddle was replaced by a cooler and garland. Debbie and her long time groom Reuben tried to lead her sedately from the ring, but Brentina was having none of that and decided that a bouncy passage was a more fitting way to end her career.