With this post I bid farewell to the Vegas experience, not only for this year, but probably for the indefinite future. WC show jumping has been awarded to European venues through 2013. I think it highly unlikely that Vegas would bid for dressage only when they have so successfully doubled their money by hosting the two disciplines together. But who knows? Dressage has not been awarded yet at all. Is there another North American city out there that wants to invite 10,000 DQs to visit? Of course we North Americans are extra lucky to get the WEG next year, and I have no doubt that the folks in Kentucky will go to every length to surpass Aachen from three years ago. Americans love competition, after all, and this will be the first WEG outside of Europe.

A couple of talking heads from the Alltech WEG 2010 team came to speak to journalists in Vegas, including CEO and VP of operations Rob Hinkle. I hope some of his colleagues do a little more walk and a little less talk than he did. I asked about camping possibilities there (of course I did!), having heard that the existing camp site will be requisitioned for official use. He yakked around my question for a while before I finally interrupted him when it became clear he wasn’t going to answer. I’m sure he had no idea what the answer might be, but here’s a hint: when you don’t know you just say “I don’t know but I’d be happy to find out and have someone get back to you.” And then you have to actually make good on that promise and get back to the person. I suggested that when they send out the info on accommodations, they include something on where those of us who love the great outdoors might pitch a tent or park an RV. We’ll see if the suggestion was duly noted or duly discarded in a few months when the accommodations info gets sent out to the media.

Oh my, I went right off track there. I’m supposed to be talking about Vegas, aren’t I? The big surprise this year was that the show jumping was not a surprise. Nothing really eye popping happened, except for lots of great horses and great riders doing a great job. (I was sad that Idot du Chateau had a few unlucky rails. He and Edwina are one of my fave pairs, as I’ve already said previously.) The ladies stayed on, Meredith led the way, McLain and Albert chased her as hard as they could, but Shutterfly just would not lose this half-million dollar game of tag. I can’t stop thinking of him as a mare – he’s such a pretty boy, with ears that curve in charming half moons toward each other. He was one of a few jumping horses in Vegas who always looks like he loves his job. I’ll be interested to watch who follows in his very big hoofprints. I’ve never seen Meredith on another horse in the show ring. I wonder how much of that incredible team is thanks to an exceptional horse.

I decided in Vegas that Sapphire reminds me of someone’s big, homely but kind auntie. She always looks willing but never particular enthused, unlike Oki Doki, whose name suits him perfectly. His name could also be Bouncy Bouncy. He is so much fun to watch, both for his jumping style and the way he moves. Talk about front leg articulation. Albert Zoer looks like an unlikely show jumping rider, though. I just can’t imagine him face down in the bar at 4 am. He reminds me of Beaker from the Muppets, or of my high school Chemistry teacher (whom we called Beaker behind his back). What I would love to learn more about is how those course designers manage to create courses that balance testing the best with not killing the weakest in the field. Anthony D’Ambrosio did a kick ass job as far as my uneducated eye is concerned.

I have discovered that not everyone agrees with my assessment of the dressage. Quite a few of you out there think Isabell should have won, but I am sticking to my guns. Did Steffen have home town advantage? Maybe, but so do the Europeans 90% of the time. Linda Zang said that in her opinion, Steffen and Isabell were on a par artistically, and that it was on the technical side that Steffen came out on top. But I think Steffen’s music is what made the difference. Some judges will disagree I’m sure, but I have seen plenty of anecdotal evidence that the right music and the right choreography will result in higher technical scores. The judges aren’t thinking about the artistic stuff when they assign those technical marks, but it is impossible to separate in one’s mind the music from the passage that is being performed to it. When the music does something special – makes the passage look more regular, more expressive, more powerful – it can’t help but create a more positive response in the judge, even though the judge isn’t thinking about the music when he or she gives the mark for the movement. Ravel’s passage music rocked (no pun intended), and Satchmo’s didn’t.

I’m sad that we won’t be making a return journey to Vegas in 2011. Camping in the parking lot of the T&M can’t be beat for convenience and value for dollar, and the trip from Vancouver was affordable for a bunch of my friends and my husband to keep me company and enjoy the sport. As far as I’m concerned WC is the only reason to go to Vegas. 

One parting shot for today: look out Mr. Hunk. I’m on your trail and as soon as I get one more confirmation of your identity I will be exposing your lunacy right here on the blog.