It's here! The first Friday night freestyles of the season from the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington. For those of us stuck at home in the Canadian cold, watching the freestyles via live stream is the perfect way to spend an icy winter night. I put on my flannel jammies, curled up with my iPad in front of the fire and settled back for close to three hours of pure viewing pleasure.
And what a pleasure it was! The Canadian riders did us proud, as always. Although it would have been nice to hear some new music, the "Hallelujah" music that Jacqueline Brooks often performs to does suit her grey Goose to a T. Maybe it was the snazzy new helmet or the touch of sparkle on her jacket, but they looked extra polished tonight. They finished in 7th place on a solid score of 68.969. Jac and Goose are a perennial crowd favourite and always a joy to watch.
Jill Irving and Degas 12 really impressed me. I thought it was the best I've seen this horse perform; he looked fit and powerful and Jill seemed to enjoy every minute of this lovely ride. She finished just ahead of Jacqueline in 6th place with a 69.579.
Next up for Canada was the newly-married Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu. I admit I have a real soft spot for Brittany, partly because I knew her when she was a little freckle-faced kid in Nova Scotia learning to ride her first pony. But I particularly admire her for how far she's come since then. All In is simply breathtaking to watch and this big gelding has improved tremendously since their silver-medal performance at the Toronto PanAm Games. In only their second year competing in Grand Prix at the CDI level, Brittany and All In gave a spectacular performance tonight with only a slight bobble in the opening and closing halts. They were justly rewarded with a score of 72.608 and finished in third place.
I honestly thought Brittany had the ride of the night until Megan Lane entered the ring with Caravella. This little mare just keeps getting better and better. It's the first time I've seen Megan ride since the Rio Olympics and she sure didn't disappoint. Megan rocking the one-handed pirouette was without doubt the highlight of the night! This pair shows such exquisite harmony and are so technically correct, watching them is like a mini dressage clinic in itself. They earned a huge score of 75.967. Check out Megan's super ride here.
Although she's not Canadian I have to mention Lisa Wilcox and Galant. The winning ride on a score of 77.209 proves that North American dressage is continuing to improve every year. Maybe it's because I have a fondness for big chestnuts but I can't wait to see more of this pair.
Can't wait for the next Friday night freestyles on January 27!
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