Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Picking a Winner

The Rules Apply

I watched the finals of the Westminster Dog Show last night. As soon as the Scottish Deerhound came into the ring, I gasped. Of course there was the drama of the spotlight on the silver coat in the darkened arena, and the dog was big, but it wasn't that.  This dog just glided elegantly like a beautifully gaited horse.

Having watched a number of these high profile dog shows before, despite the fact that I was awestruck by the Deerhound, I knew too well that little fuzzy Pekingese and shining Fox Terriers are far more often the winners of Best in Show. I've had favorites before, most of which have fallen short of the prize--although one year a personality plus Sheltie won both my heart and the judge's.  So, I wasn't too hopeful that my pick was going to win.

But win she did. And strangely enough, though I don't know the dog, the handler, or much at all about the competition, I was thrilled.  I was honestly that in love with that dog.

What was it about her that captured me? The way she moved.

It's the same effect a beautifully moving horse has on me.  Now, I know everyone talks about Totilas as the master of dressage, but he doesn't glide. There is power in his gaits, drama in his movement, and despite even my reservations about whether or not all his training is really correct, he is breathtaking.  But he does not glide effortlessly across the arena.

Ravel does.  When he performs his trot half-pass it is amazing.  It's as if his hoofs are not even touching the earth. Alerich did, especially in his canter one tempis. I remember gasping in Madison Square Garden when Klimke finished his demonstration ride on the great horse with a series of one tempis up the center line--straight at where we were sitting.  The whole Spanish Riding School, in its Grand Quadrille does.

I guess the secret is when the movement looks as if it's no work at all.

Those of us who ride know better.


  1. I am sad I missed the show -- everyone keeps talking about what a lovely animal she is!

    According to someone on COTH, her owners (or at least one) are actually involved with horses. Foxhunters, I believe.

    And I agree with your assessment on movement -- the ones who glide, and make it look effortless, are the ones that I pick as the winners every time.

  2. And Blue Hors Matine. She did it to me too. ...made me cry just from the beauty of her gaits. I know what you mean - exactly! I love it, too, when they look happy.

  3. Sadly I missed the show too. The dogs I pick never win either.

    I know exactly what you're talking about when you say a horse glides without it's hooves touching the earth. It seems so effortless and beautiful. I wish there were more horses in dressage that moved like that today. There are a few though who can make you gasp in amazement.

  4. you saw ahlerich at Madison square garden? i am jealous, very.

  5. I missed the dog show too but it sounds like I would definitely have been attracted to that dog.

    I think movement is everything. If it doesn't look effortless then it's not good movement, and you're so right about the work. LOL