Apparently the editors over at Horse and Hound have been thinking the same thing I have lately about modern competitive dressage. They embedded the video of the Reiner Klimke / Ahlerich gold-medal winning performance on their site and remarked:
"How times have changed in the dressage world! Take a look back at the gold medal-winning performance of Reiner Klimke on Ahlerich at the 1984 Olympic Games. While the horse's movement is far less dramatic than today's top dressage horses, it is a clear picture of harmony between horse and rider with the poll at the highest point throughout and impressive levels of relaxation.
Not only have the standards of performance changed, the type of horse has also moved on. Ahlerich is a lighter framed horse compared to the powerful warmbloods seen today at this level.
So do you think that the development of dressage and dressage horses over the past 25 years is a good thing, or do you hark back to a return to 'good old days'?"
LOVE IT! Though I do take offense at the traditionalist sentiment inherent to the phrase 'good old days.' As if good, solid riding is somehow old-fashioned. Hopefully that was meant tongue-in-cheek.
This does serve as a reminder to note that whenever I review a modern dressage performance (like Totilas') I always refer back to my 'guide' -- this particular ride. It is my guideline for everything and if it isn't for you, well, all I can say is it should be. The ride itself is not without mistakes, but I don't care about mistakes. No ride will be perfection. What is important is the level of harmony and relaxation; the mistakes that are permitted and corrected simultaneously. I always felt that this test was likely not very different from how Ahlerich was ridden in his home arena. And that's what I always thought competitive dressage was supposed to be, just a venue to exhibit the level of training you consistently achieve at home.