European Championships for Arabian Sports Horses 2020
Many weeks of hope and anxiety ultimately led to a “happy ending”: Thanks to the perseverance of the organizer Sissi Chat, the European Championship of Sports Arabians could take place despite Corona!
In the Corona year 2020, the European Championship was the first tournament of the year for some riders, because at the end of July public sports events were not yet possible in many countries. It was all the better that, despite the adverse external circumstances, so many riders came to Wiener Neustadt and enjoyed these four days like a vacation.
Whoever you asked, everyone was grateful for this change during those Corona days, grateful for the opportunity to meet old friends, make new friends, and do something with their partner horse. The sporting spirit was always in the foreground. For example, those who did not have the right equipment for the Hunter Pleasure, which was advertised as a European Championship title for the first time, found a fellow rider who could borrow the equipment. This togetherness despite sporting ambition is what distinguishes this event.
48 horses and riders from five nations had come: Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, and of course Austria. Not all starters took part in the actual European Championship, some of the riders also brought young horses for the Newcomer and Master Championship. At the European Championships, there were 39 medals in a total of 13 disciplines, new additions were Hunter Pleasure and Ranch Riding, and as in the previous year, the costume classes were divided into Western and Classic.
Germany was represented with nine horses, six of which took part in the actual European Championship and four won gold, three silver, and two bronze medals. The most successful horse was (once again) Haifi El Sorrento under Susanne Hoyler, who won two gold, one silver, and two bronze medals. Only the Austrian Susanne Schuh with Loggia (2 gold, 2 bronze) came close to them.
The host country Austria naturally had the most irons in the fire, or rather horses at the start. And so the Austrians took home the most medals: 8 x gold, 8 x silver, and 9 x bronze. However, it should not be overlooked that the various pleasure classes (Classic Pleasure, Hunter Pleasure, Native Costume (western and classic), Ladies Sidesaddle, Western Pleasure) are better known in Austria than in Germany thanks to the activities of Sissi Chat. And in these six classes alone, 18 medals were awarded!
The dressage test this year suffered particularly from the low number of starters, and the quality of the rides as a whole was below the level of previous years. There were various reasons for this. For the winner Haifi El Sorrento (BS Specific / Haifi Dinjah) *2005 under Susanne Hoyler, it was the fact that since January 1, 2020, no whips are allowed in the test, which the rider only realized shortly before the start. This was the reason why the gelding did not perform the flying changes with the same zealous as we know it – and yes, one even had the impression “now he will stop entirely”. All in all, it was a confident performance as usual and the couple won the test rightly and by a wide margin. Haifi El Sorrentos victory could only have been challenged by Galahad under Helena Jody Byrne, but Helena and her mother were the unlucky ones of the event: First burglars had stolen all their money from the car, and then Galahad was injured on Saturday and could not go forward to the European C hampionship tests. So GFH Sandhya (Baikal / Desert Safanad) *2012 remained in the race under André Reitermayr as the second-best starter, a horse that we knew from western sports so far! André Reitermayr wanted to prove that a horse can be trained or presented in two different riding styles (for more on this see “The Experiment”, page 64). An experiment, but you wonder whether the European Championships and an advanced level dressage test are the right moment for it.
In third place was Akwadar, who came from Poland under Danuta Kononchuk, an impressive stallion who is still lacking in coolness.
Overall, the jumping competition was more enjoyable. Although there were only four starters here, it was the most exciting test of the whole event. This was primarily due to Neele Schlichte, the youngest participant in the tournament, and her Al Ashar (Ashur / Aswana V)
*2005, our “Arab of the Year 2019”. This team had already won the preliminary and qualifying tests (Newcomer and Master Championships), so they were the last starters and rolled up the field from behind. With prudence but at high-speed Neele steered the stallion through the course and the two won gold again with a sovereign zero-fault ride! Neele beamed and laughed at every obstacle, it was obvious that the two of them had a lot of fun – and that’s exactly what this tournament is supposed to convey, along with all the performances that are delivered here. The three other starters all came from the stud of Martina Minhard, Al-Qahira Arabians – that is not an everyday occurrence either. Silver went to Kalderon Qahira (Ghandour / Sevilla) *2005 with Antje Aigner, a couple who is also successful in eventing – even though Kalderon lost his left eye in an accident! Espinosa Qahira (LM Libretto / Shamal) *2000 landed in third place under her owner Alexandra Moosburger and thus received bronze. This mare is a phenomenon and represents the versatile and long-lived Arabian par excellence. She is now 20 years old, still takes part in cross-country tests regularly with her owner and in 2007, at Stadl Paura, they already won the European Champion All-around title in one-in-hand driving in 2007, a test that has unfortunately not been done in recent years due to too few entries.
Let’s go West
Of course, the reining competition is always awaited with great excitement at the western tests. This year Gerhard Hairas managed to win the Reining with TR Whata Hottie (What it Takes / Paf Tohottohandle) *2011 from Gut Fronleitenhof. He has been a regular participant for years, earlier with his horse, today with a “leased horse”, and mostly he was placed. He won the Reining with 211.50 (141) points, just ahead of the reigning European Champion CH Silverlight (Azjaa / Silver Riole) *2004 with Verena Böckle in the saddle. The third was by far GFH Sonar Seganges (Ganges / Sonora) *2009, our “Arab of the year 2018” under Reinhard Hochreiter. “Unlucky” for this test was Martin Pauli with Zahims Navii (Zid Ibn El Zahim / India) *2010, who put down a brilliant ride, but took the reins when the horse slightly stumbled: “Zero Score”, gone the dream – but next year there is another chance!
The trail test is also considered demanding and requires a lot of body awareness from the horse. Here David Grandits won with Rosaleda Qahira (Valeroso Qahira / Shirina Carisma) *2010, the fourth in the league at this event from the Al-Qahira stud! As you can see, a good, versatile sport horse can be further trained in all possible disciplines. So here the big, strong chestnut mare showed how to sort her legs in a “tangle of bars” and won with 209.5 points just ahead of the already 21-year-old Vadim (Hag-Viendo / Massada) *1999 under Brigitte Hirschböck, who took the silver medal with 209 points. The bronze medal went to Loggia (Alert / Laranda) *2011 under Susanne Schuh, who, as mentioned at the beginning, was the second most successful couple at the event.
What was offered as an “experimental balloon” last year has already been announced this year as part of the European Championship: Ranch Riding. This discipline is not only finding more and more followers among the Arabians. In this test, different patterns are ridden depending on the level of difficulty, whereby it depends on responsiveness and manners during the execution, and attention is paid to the quality of the movements. Riding on a rein that is too long or if the horse’s head is too low will be penalized with a point deduction. Here CH Silverlight was able to win the gold medal with Verena Böckle after they narrowly missed it in the reining. Silver was awarded to “unlucky” Martin Pauli with Zahims Navii, the bronze medal went to Leona Böck on Baikals Shangrila (Baikal / Desert Safanad) *2006, who is actually on maternity leave, but since she had not yet conceived, she had to go to the tournament instead.
The pleasure classes are increasing from year to year, as they are suitable for collecting points for the all-round title. They are also easy to organize and usually have the largest fields of participants. There was a surprise in the Classic Pleasure this year. The mare Valerie (Dormane / OSO Valentina) *2005 under Isabel Bartlechner has been with us for several years, but the large-framed and powerful Valerie was not exactly “easy”. With a lot of perseverance, rider and horse have “tied up” and this year the efforts have finally borne fruit: The gold medal in the Classic Pleasure is the culmination of their together career so far. They relegated the dressage champion Haifi El Sorrento to second place and thus silver.
Erasmos (Ainhoa St. Faust / Estylia) *2011 managed to get a gold medal straight away under Daniela Entner in the Hunter Pleasure. So far, she was more involved in dressage, but Daniela Entner felt, that the Prix St. Georges was still a bit too difficult. Nevertheless, this couple shows that you can still have fun, show performance, and win at this European Championship. The one-eyed Kalderon Qahira under Antje Aigner won the silver medal in the Hunter Pleasure as well as in the costume class, in the latter he was placed behind his stablemate Ojinegro Qahira (Ghandour / Bel Princess) *2005 with Magdalena Zellhofer.
The Ladies Sidesaddle class is reserved for the ladies and was won by El Trocadero (Psyrasic / Kashida) *2008 under Karin Lenhard like last year. For the first time this year, there were two starters from Poland who won the silver and bronze medals.
Western pleasure has long been established in western sports, and this year the Dutch woman Canisia Romani won with Ashraf Al Shams (Ajman Monisicione / Esstonia) *2010. She was followed by MM Sandrine (WR Marc / Sayonarah El Bri) *2010 from Mario Matt’s stable with André Reitermayr in the saddle, while Loggia won bronze with Susanne Schuh.
Last but not least
The tests on Friday and Saturday serve on the one hand as a qualification run for the individual titles, on the other hand as a point basis for the all-round classification The winner in the Classic All-round was Haifi El Sorrento, who not only scored points in the dressage but also many of the pleasure tests. The two showjumpers from the Al-Qahira stable won the silver and bronze medals, they, too, were both successful in the pleasure classes. Loggia won the western all-round, making her the second most successful horse of the tournament, silver went to Ashraf Al Shams in the Netherlands and bronze to El Trocadero from Austria.
By taking part in this European championship even in difficult times, the riders have proven that they care about such events. People enjoy competing against your peer, exchange ideas, and have fun. Thanks to Sissi Chat for making this possible.