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Anky reserve champion in FEI reining debut

April 22, 2010

Anky van Grunsven and Whizashiningwalla BB. © Erwin Bovendeur; source:

Three-time dressage gold medalist Anky van Grunsven has praised the scoring system used by reining, after being named reserve champion at her first FEI event, the CRI1* Swedish National Championships in Bökeberg.

The event last weekend was a qualifier for the World Equestrian Games (WEG).

Van Grunsven said afterwards that "the basics of dressage are the same as in reining. There really is not a major difference at the very basic level

"As a matter of fact, there is much we have in common. While I wish that some of the smart things from reining could be adopted by dressage, like the clear and straight-forward Reining scoring system, the two sports are similar in the desire for an enhanced and refined display of horsemanship," van Grunsven said.

The horse she rode at the championships is Whizashiningwalla BB, owned by the standing NRHA Non Pro European Champion Cira Baeck's Eifel Gold Ranch Baeck in Belgium.

"He is a great horse and we are having a lot of fun together. He is really helping me to get the feeling for Reining, and he knows his sport - sometimes a little too much", she said of thepalomino quarter horse.

"As a dressage rider you can gain from reining, but sometimes it is hard to remember, for instance in reining when you stop the horse it is definitely the opposite of dressage: you loosen your reins, sit down and just say 'whoa' - and the horse will stop ... this doesn't happen in dressage, Van Grunsven joked.

On the first day of the event, Swedish riders took the top three placings, with Mona Göransson aboard Mega Jac Dance heading off Helene Hokkanen and Whizards Enchantress. In third place was Peter Ljungberg competing with Blue Dry Peppy. In fourth place was van Grunsven and Whizashiningwalla BB for The Netherlands. Completing the top-five lineup was Sanne Skovrider of Denmark was riding Lil Spin.

Sunday presented another chance for national qualification. After the second place horse from Saturday, Whizards Enchantress, was eliminated in the early morning horse inspection, the starting field was recharged with possibilities for the top placings.

In the class, riders gave a full effort and the resulting scores revealed a tie for first place between Saturday's champion, Mona Göransson for Sweden riding Mega Jac Dance and Anky Van Grunsven on Whizashiningwalla BB.

Both of a highly-competitive nature, it was decided that a run-off would determine the ultimate champion in the international-level class.

With a quick drag of the arena and a few minutes to once again prepare, Göransson and Van Grunsven thrilled the audience as they enthusiastically supported each rider's second effort.

Set to music including "Mission Impossible" and "Under Pressure" Göransson and Van Grunsven each left everything in the arena with the final result of the run-off in Göransson's favor by a mere one-point spread.

Third-place honors went back to Sweden with Ruf Deal, piloted by Johan Svensson making the podium complete. Fourth and fifth were Tove Schmidt and Helene Hokkanen showing Chic Diesel Olena and Sheza Flybaby, respectively.

AQHA, on behalf of its international affiliate, the Swedish Quarter Horse Association, supplied major funding of the Bökeberg event to increase exposure and awareness of the American Quarter Horse around the world.



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