Looking back at the Dressage greats...
Our Freestyle Fantastic series is a piaffe and passage down memory lane as we celebrate some of the great routines of Dressage's history. Find out what made it so special, and relive the performance on video...
Atterupgaards Cassidy and Cathrine Dufour
Gothenburg – February 2018
Cathrine Dufour is one of the Dressage elite, right up there with the likes of Charlotte Dujardin, Isabell Werth, and Laura Graves.
At only 29, she’s already won European medals, represented Denmark at the Olympics, and claimed victory in multiple FEI Dressage World Cup™ qualifiers.
Undoubtedly, Atterupgaards Cassidy is her most well-known partner. And when we look back on this stellar freestyle from Gothenburg in 2018, it’s not difficult to see why the chestnut gelding is such a crowd favourite.
Dufour had pipped Werth and Patrik Kittel into second and third place the night before in the Grand Prix, and they repeated the feat with gusto in the freestyle.
Not only did the Danish duo post a huge score of 88.2%, but they beat Werth and Emilio by a convincing margin with the German rider finishing on 85.3% and Kittel finishing on 83.6% in front of a home crowd. This was the first time the pair had performed this particular freestyle in public, and Dufour admitted to being nervous as Cassidy can be spooky.
She needn’t have worried, as it was clear from the opening movements - set to the beat of “Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better)” by Felix Jaehn – that the pair were completely in sync with one another. One of the highlights was the seamless transitions between piaffe and passage, even featuring a piaffe pirouette straight into an extended trot with no loss of balance or rhythm.
Aside from perhaps a slightly “safe” extended canter, there was little else to fault, especially when it comes to the tempi changes which were a joy to watch; straight, fluid, and through. Cassidy also shows excellent relaxation in the walk, a quality which is sometimes difficult to coax out of Olympic-calibre horses.
Aside from the riding, we love the use of modern music in this test, backed up by very crisp and obvious transitions between the music. It’s a big risk, as anyone who knows Freestyle knows that obvious musical changes make any small timing mistakes very apparent to onlookers, but Dufour stayed exactly on the beat throughout the test.
The test received all 9’s for technical difficulty, which was a new world record under the FEI degree of difficulty evaluation system. To the crowd though, it looked effortless. And that’s exactly what good Dressage is all about: harmony, partnership, and expression.