German star Ingrid Klimke revealed that her Mitsubishi Motors Badminton challenger Horseware Hale Bob had an “away with the hounds” moment during his dressage test on Friday.
It did not prevent Klimke from posting a score of 40.2 penalties for second place behind Andrew Nicholson, but her former hunter ride could easily have posted sub-40, such was the quality of his performance.
“I really enjoyed the trot because he really opened up, especially his extension. He felt really smooth and supple,” Klimke said.
He used to hunt, so I had to tell him ‘come on, this is not hunting, it is dressage
“But in the walk, he heard some dogs barking. He used to hunt, so I had to tell him ‘come on, this is not hunting, it is dressage’. He was looking for the dogs.
“But it was really smooth after that, the changes felt really expressive and I could really ride the extensions and transitions.
“I wish he would have relaxed in the walk. He normally has a really quality walk, but the trot and canter were lovely.
“I am in a hunting club in Germany that does drag-hinting. He hunted a lot when he was young, but it got to the stage when he tried to go in front of the dogs!”
Klimke is bidding to become the first German to win Badminton in its long and illustrious history, and after landing the Pau four-star crown in France last October with Horseware Hale Bob, it might not be wise to bet against them finishing on top.
“I am really looking forward to the cross-country,” she added. “I have my plan, and I feel ready.
“I know he has scope, he is a very neat jumper and very clever on his feet. I really trust him, and he has all the cleverness you need for the techincal elements. There is nothing I really worry about.
“I think we will all go for it. I would like to do a clear round inside the time. I know he can do it – he showed me that in Pau.”