Jan2209collage.jpgI’m getting a bit of a late start into this year, having taken a rather long but overdue holiday over Christmas – and well into the new year. Lost in the wilds of Portugal with my husband Jan and Dachshund Chorizo (whom some of my ruder friends refer to as my two wieners), I was quite out of touch with the equestrian world for five weeks. Now that I have caught up with all the FEI press releases and general gossip, I realize that the horse world often turns at much the same speed as in a soap opera: something momentous is always about to happen, but rarely does. I was surprised how untaken aback I was by the news so far this year, though I suppose nothing stands much of a chance against the inauguration of America’s first African-American president – not to mention the first articulate (except for the oath-taking), educated and intelligent one in quite some time.

One momentous achievement for Canada of course is the recent arrival of Eric Lamaze at the top of the global heap, after he finally pulled a hair’s breadth ahead of Deutsch-American diva Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. Anyone who doubts that North American dressage riders ought to go to Europe if they want to succeed internationally should take heed of Eric’s words as he explained his achievements: “Over the past four years, I have committed myself to competing against the best in the world, which has meant spending a lot of time in Europe.” And he’s a show jumper! He doesn’t even have to worry about getting on the judges’ radar so that they aren’t afraid to give high marks when they see something good.

And speaking of judges, let’s hope the Working Group follows Obama’s example in ushering in a new and improved era for dressage. If you want to know just how stagnant the old guard has become, take a gander at the International Dressage Judges Club website: www.idjc.be. If you click on the link to the IDJC’s newsletter, all you get is a large font single word: NEWSLETTER. Ditto with rules: RULES. If you click on home you get ‘the page cannot be found’. The whole site is kind of buggy. Home is actually there, but you just can’t use the link to get to it.  I know the IDJC is still breathing; the judges met in Vienna in the fall. But disseminating information beyond its closed doors is clearly not a priority for this gang. Guess who the president (or chair or whatever) is: yup, it’s good ol’ Mariette.

English of FEI official language is

I don’t know who wrote the press release for the Frankfurt CDI in December (writer credit is never given on their releases), and since English is clearly not the writer’s first language, the interesting grammar is not to be blamed on her or him. But surely someone at Mission Control could have given it a quick peruse and cleaned up some of the stranger syntax before posting it. Just one example of what I’m talking about: regarding Nathalie zu Sayn Wittgenstein’s freestyle, the press release says, “The Olympian team bronze winning pair didn’t leave her future wishes for the guessing, as she chose Leonard Bernstein’s Westside Story to ride on. In America she wants to be…”. And Nadine Capellmann “sometimes lacked the control.” Go to the FEI’s website if you want to read more of this poetic press release.

Florida, improving its people

Press releases can actually be a lot of fun to read. One of yesterday’s all-too-frequent missives from the WEF in Wellington announced that “$10 million of improvements have been made to families and residents.” Would that be facial surgery and gastric bypasses, or did they work on their personalities too I wonder? I’ll have to check that out when I’m in Florida next week.

If you thought Hong Kong was hot…

The first ever Youth Olympic Games have been announced for August 14-16, 2010 in Singapore. Today’s weather for that island micro-state is 25 degrees Celsius – that’s 89 Fahrenheit to you Imperial types – with 89% humidity. And this is winter. The YOG (I’m not sure that’s such a good acronym but it’s what they’ve gone with) will include all 26 Olympic sports (will someone please define the age of a ‘youth gymnast’ to me?), but the only equestrian discipline will be show jumping on borrowed horses. Read: retired race horses. If you should find yourself heading to Singapore for said YOG, leave your chewing gum behind. The unlovely stuff is illegal there, even in small amounts for personal use. Better not send Kyra Kyrklund as the team coach for Finland.

That’s the drivel for now. Check in next week, when I will de-bunk some untrue rumours circulating around the FEI dressage situation.