RIO DE JANEIRO -- Man, it was a hot one.
Severo Jurado Lopez of Spain finished fifth in the Olympic individual dressage competition Monday afternoon. Afterwards, he noted the 97-degree Rio weather probably lessened the performance of all horses, including his own.
"The heat is hard," Jurado Lopez said. "It’s not fun. It could be better with 5 or 10 degrees less."
Jurado Lopez became the most popular equestrian in Rio by performing to a medley centered around the song "Smooth" by Carlos Santana, featuring Rob Thomas.
"I choose the music I like," Jurado Lopez said of his choice of Santana. "I feel good, I like the music, and it’s a good music to go to all international people."
Although the song was mixed in with typical dressage music, there were occasionally faint echoes of a Rob Thomas-sound-a-like saying the words "my Spanish Harlem Mona Lisa." The routine ended with an interpolation of the song "It’s My Life" by Bon Jovi, in which Bon Jovi yells "It’s now or never!"
"We spend a lot of time in our lives in this sport, and we only have five minutes in there," said Jurado Lopez. "So it’s a nice sentiment.’
Most dressage music is pretty old-fashioned — one rider performed to a Beach Boys medley, another to "Nights in White Satin" and "Age of Aquarius," and those were the trendy choices. For most of the day, the crowd was typically tepid during routines, occasionally clapping for impressive movements. But they got behind the rider busting out the greatest hits of the year 2000. They clapped to Bon Jovi’s beat, and lustily booed when the judges gave Jurado Lopez a score that put him off the podium — an apparent rarity for a dressage event.
"In a way, it was good when they booed," Jurado Lopez said. "It’s a good feeling when you have a lot of people all thinking the same."
Believe it or not, musical choice is a graded factor in dressage. Riders receive a technical score, focusing on the various movements the horse makes, as well as an artistic score, which factors in the choreography and fit of the song. If the horse is out of sync to the song’s rhythm, or if the music doesn’t particularly jibe with the actions the rider is taking, that score will drop.
For his part, Jurado Lopez said the music "felt good" to the horse.
"You just have to concentrate, listen, and let the horse follow," Jurado Lopez said.
Hopefully next time, the judges will give Jurado Lopez the gold, and make it real.