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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Crowd's Favorite Dressage Horse Scratches at Las Vegas World Cup

(Thanks to the US Equestrian Federation for help with this post.)

Before the curtain had a chance to rise on the 2007 Rolex FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada's Thomas and Mack Center, some unexpected news from the Danish camp brought a simultaneous chorus of concern and disappointment from fans and foes alike.

Denmark’s Andreas Helgstrand announced in an afternoon press conference today that his horse would not compete due to lameness. One of the favorites leading into the dressage competition, Blue Hors Matine, the striking 10-year-old grey Danish Warmblood that entertained and surprised the crowds at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany, by taking the Individual Bronze and Silver in the grand prix special and the freestyle respectively, was pulled after the mare showed fluid gathering around her front left pastern.

The trouble began as the horse reached the ground from her transport to the venue. “The ground was slippery,” said Helgstrand. It was then that the horse twisted her left front leg’s pastern. After exhibiting some “twisting,” an ultrasound was performed and it confirmed the malady.

The horse looked good on Monday and Tuesday according to Helgstrand, but in the initial jog, the horse was held for re-inspection. The horse’s veterinarian said the horse might be good by competition time; however a decision had to be made before the draw.

“When we trotted the horse today, going up she was trotting 100%, and when we trotted her back, she was twisting again,” said Helgstrand. “So, there is no chance to compete with her.”

Such disappointment is part of the landscape when dealing with horses and the Danish rider said, “When you work with horses, there are ups and downs. This happened at the wrong time of course…but it’s better to keep it down now and let the vets look at her and do what is best for the horse.” Helgstrand pointed out that the prognosis for the mare, according to the veterinarians, was good.

No doubt Matine will now be aimed at the European Dressage Championships to be held in Torino, Italy in September.

More news about Matine:

The mare has been the center of rumors: following her 81.25% score at WEG last August, the Danes were said to have been offered 9 million euros (approx US$12.25 million) for an American, of course. They continue to deny the rumor.

Blue Horse Matine's scratch comes after a news-filled week on the international dressage and show jumping scenes, with several horses scratching before the flights even left Europe. Dutch team chef d'equipe Sjef Jansen shocked the dressage world by resigning his post, protesting that the Dutch riders were not serious enough in their preparation for the 2008 Olympics.

Note: I don't usually go overboard about a horse, but I make an exception for Matine. Commentator Richard Davison said of her performance at WEG in Aachen in August 2006: "It is an absolute privilege to watch this horse."

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