Songs that lend a voice to the equestrian world in a way only music can.
There is no point in mincing words: Olympic Dressage has an image problem. Frequently made fun of by spectators and ranked among the least popular sports at the games, the equestrian discipline struggles to get any good press among the major media outlets. Indeed, even the loosely informed American commentator (not Melanie Smith-Taylor) has on at least two occasions referred to it as “dainty.”
That’s why fans of dressage should sit up and take note of what happened after the freestyle competition on Monday. Yes, insider favorites Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro claimed a much deserved second Individual Gold Medal. But outside of Great Britain and dressage’s ardent fan base, few cared.
However, the Internet exploded over fifth place finisher Spanish dressage rider Severo Jesus Jurado Lopez and his horse Lorenzo’s crowd-pleasing performance to Santana feat. Rob Thomas’s “Smooth,” capped off with Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life.” The live audience clapped in time to the music and cheered with sincere enthusiasm as Lopez made his final salute at center line.
Like all other media that is not NBC, we can’t share the entire Olympic video, but as an equestrian website, we’re savvy enough to know that we can share how it looked Aachen just a few weeks ago:
Even more importantly than the audience’s reaction, Entertainment Weekly, Gawker, SB Nation, Huffington Post, Billboard, The A.V. Club, New York Magazine, GQ Magazine, Esquire, UPROXX, Stereogum, Mashable, and the list goes on, all rushed to share the story with their approving fan base.
Begrudgingly at times, the usually mocking world of media admitted that there might be something worth watching here. For example, SB Nation cooed in its headline, “The horse that danced to Santana’s ‘Smooth’ at the Olympics won our hearts but didn’t win gold.” Meanwhile, Esquire admitted that the performance may have redeemed the entire sport of dressage; GQ Magazine gushed, “Lorenzo changed the lives of everyone who saw him;” and Mashable proclaimed, “Okay forget everyone else – this horse named Lorenzo is our favorite Olympic athlete now.”
(For some affirming dressage humor, check out GQ’s “interview with Lorenzo here: Interview With Olympics Sexy Smooth Horse.)
And that’s important as dressage’s place in the Olympics is increasingly insecure. Not to mention the fact that musical freestyles have finally fulfilled the purpose for which they were added to the sport in the 1980s, and Olympic competition at the Atlanta Games in 1996. People other than equestrians are actually watching!
It is with gratitude, then, that we salute Lopez and Lorenzo for casting a positive light on dressage, and we hope that all dressage riders will be bringing a similar A-game to Tokyo in 2020. Be like Lorenzo. Get over yourself and do it for the sport!