Dinja van Liere had her doubts when she completed her test aboard Hermes, but the judges certainly didn’t. The first day of the 2022 FEI Dressage World Championship at Stutteri Ask Stadium in Herning, Denmark, concluded with the Netherlands on top of the leaderboard thanks to the duo.
Ingrid Klimke and Benjamin Werndl boosted Germany into the second place position, while Denmark’s Nanna Merrald Rasmussen and Carina Cassøe Krüth rounded out the top three.
Dutch Dominate Day 1 of Team Championship
Thamar Zweistra and Hexagon’s Ich Weiss, a 9-year-old NRPS stallion owned by Stal Hexagon B.V., went early in the order, but that didn’t stop their score of 72.376% from putting the Netherlands on the leaderboard. “I had a really good feeling all the way; my horse behaved and performed very well I think.” Zweistra added, “I am so pleased, and we really find Herning awesome.”
Fifth last to go in the order, Dinja van Liere and Hermes, a 10-year-old KWPN stallion owned by Joop van Uytert, only fortified the Netherlands position on the leaderboard. Securing the highest score of the day, the combination received roars of recognition from spectators. “I was very happy, but I had my doubts finishing; was it good enough? Was it good? But then the audience started clapping, and I felt really happy,” said van Liere.
One of Hermes’ most outstanding movements was his piaffe, which van Liere acknowledged proudly. “Hermes gave me a really good feeling even if I was nervous. He is so talented with piaffe and passage, even if today had a few things that of course can be improved.”
Germany’s Got Game
Ingrid Klimke and Franziskas, a 14-year-old Hanoverian stallion owned by Wilhelm Holkenbrink, were the first to represent Germany. The combination came out in style and earned a 75.683% from the judges. Klimke was “very proud” of her mount. “Sometimes I have been just a passenger,” she admitted, “but today we were really one, and I was in the driver’s seat.”
In the last group of the day, Germany’s Benjamin Werndl put in a stellar test aboard Famoso OLD, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Benjamin and Klaus Werndl and Flora Keller. The judges awarded the pair a 77.003% for their efforts, boosting them into second on the leaderboard. “I am so happy and thankful to ride this horse during this championship,” remarked Werndl. “It has been my dream for so many years and now finally it came true, and it feels amazing. All the tension and suspense just went away.”
Denmark Stands Firm on Home Ground
Welcomed by an ecstatic home-base crowd, Nanna Merrald Rasmussen and Blue Hors Zack, an 18-year-old KWPN stallion owned by Blue Hors Aps, laid down a test that put Denmark on the board. Their 76.863% secured Denmark a comfortable position on the scoreboard on day one of competition. “It is completely wild. I cannot really believe what we have done—deliver Zack’s highest score ever in international competition.”
“He is so special, and he is totally amazing,” Rasmussen said of her mount. “Sure, there was a bit of nerves involved, but this what dreams are made of. I am so, so happy.”
Carina Cassøe Krüth also fed off the energy of her and Rasmussen’s proud nation in the audience. Aboard Poul Thøgersen’s 11-year-old Danish Warmblood mare, Heiline’s Danciera, Krüth reinforced Team Denmark’s position with a score of 76.863%. “It is a combination of several years of training and building up expectations to this event,” the delighted Dane commented. “I feel that a lot of things have come together in the last months.”
Katie Duerrhammer and Quartett, Kylie Lourie’s 14-year-old DSP gelding, earned a 70.839%. An otherwise lovely test, Quartett fell off behind in the two-tempi change movement, which reflected in their score. “We really did a solid trot tour; this is where my horse shines.”
Duerrhammer and Quartett were the first American pair to enter Stutteri Ask Stadium, and on top of that, it was their first championship appearance. “I am super proud to be the path-finder for the US-team. Me and my horse are doing our first championship, and the arena feels amazing, so beautiful.”
Last in the ring on day one, Ashley Holzer and her own Valentine, a 12-year-old Hanoverian mare, earned a 61.258%—the result of a frustrating test. The duo struggled with piaffe, and at two of the movements, Quartett reared, backed up or spun. “She’s never seen a venue like this, came in nervous. Settled into it. And then it totally caught me off guard,” said Holzer of her mare’s behavior. “She’s never done any antics like this. As disappointed as I am, horses are not machines. She got scared and confused.”
Eyes on the Team World Championship Prize
The competition is far from over, though. Tomorrow, August 7th, is the second and final day of team competition, and the remaining riders have their eyes on the prize. The 2022 FEI Dressage World Championship resumes tomorrow at 5:00 a.m. EST, after which one nation will be crowned World Champions at the Medal Ceremony.
For the time schedule and results, click here.