Beep beep beep. That sound can account for many different things. Clocks, alarms, a busy signal. Or reversing vehicles warning us of impending doom should one stand directly behind it. Ernck ernck ernck is a new sound for me. As the flashflood warning it emanated frequently from the TV yesterday as the local stations covered nothing but Florence and “its” progress across North Carolina. To be politically correct, hurricanes are no longer gender-specific. Thanks to some meteorological good fortune, the tropical depression altered its path to a more northerly direction after dumping record rainfall on Charlotte, thereby cutting TIEC a break. We received far less rain and wind than was predicted.
WET WET WET
Luckily the TIEC escaped the catastrophic flooding that has wrecked lives and homes throughout the Tar Heel state, although rivers are still rising and the backlash is not over for many in the east. The only evidence that the storm had passed our way were a few puddles, sandbags and a couple of tipped-over signs. Yesterday’s horse inspection was characterized by persistent precipitation which bothered the humans more than the horses. All four of Canada’s horses remaining in the competition trotted up well. Jessica’s Pavarotti was not presented, having been eliminated on Saturday. Neither horse nor jockey were injured in the mishap.
The sun made its first appearance in three days for the individual and team eventing jumping, the final phase of the Eventing world championship. Canada were well out of it after cross-country, but the girls gave it their best shots to varying degrees of success to finish 11th as a team. Selena O’Hanlon jumped clear, but picked up three time penalties with Foxwood High for 27th place. “I just went in there to jump clear; with the same mindset as Fair Hill” (which she won, the first Canadian to do so). She lost time at the verticals. “I had to take a chance and sit him on his butt because they [verticals] are our nemesis.”
Foxwood High came to Selena in 2011 after a talent search by 1956 Olympic bronze medalist John Rumble and his wife, Judy, who discovered him when he was five. Bred by Hugh Graham’s KingRidge Stables, ‘Woody’ was last year’s Canadian Bred Horse of the Year.
Selena thought the weather-induced schedule change giving competitors an unusual day off in between cross-country and show jumping didn’t really make a difference to the performance of her big bay gelding. “I know from falling off myself that the first day you’re sore but the second day is worse, so I imagine the same is true for horses. I think if you had a fit horse after cross-country you were fine; it probably did not benefit the horses who were not feeling so well [after cross-country].”
Lisa Marie Fergusson would have preferred no day off. The 36-year-old said her Canadian-bred Honor Me is easier to ride when he’s tired. “He got a bit wild in there, but he tried very hard,” said Lisa Marie, who had two fences down for 40th place. ‘Talie’ was bred in BC by Carol McDonald. Lisa Marie has ridden three products of McDonald’s breeding enterprise, including her first international horse Uni Griffon. “I went through Pony Club with Carol’s daughter and I bought ‘Minnie’ as a five-month-old foal, did my A test on him when he was five and did my first one-star, two-star and three-star on him. Then I bought Uni Sprite who is a full brother and Smart Move, a half-brother and when Smartie went advanced I went back and got Talie. Unfortunately, Uni Sprite was the last out of his dam and Talie was the last out of his dam and the stallion died so the line is over. They have been great horses and it’s been really fun to be here riding a horse that you brought up yourself.”
Possibly even happier than the British and Irish combined were the Japanese team which did not even have to qualify for their home Games in 2020. Finishing fourth, 14 points behind the French, was the best result a Japanese equestrian team has had at any Olympic Games or World Championship EVER in ANY discipline. Chef d’équipe Shibeyuki Hosono said having the riders based in Europe has made all the difference. Yoshiaki Oiwa has been in training with Dirk Schrade in Germany while Kasuma Tomoto is based with William Fox Pitt and Angela Tucker is mentoring both Toshiyuki Tanaka and Ryuzo Kitajima in the UK. “The help of the three trainers has been instrumental for our program,” said Hosono through an interpreter. “We have been working a long time towards this moment.” Japan’s great surge forward in the hierarchy of eventing nations coincides nicely with the Olympics just two years away. “Now we have the Olympics there is a lot more energy and enthusiasm around us.”