It seems incredible, but since I can’t find any WEG team selection criteria on the USET’s unfriendly site (or anywhere else using Almighty Google), it looks like Canada is nicely on top of the game, at least where dressage is concerned. The WEG selection criteria are already there for the world to see on the Equine Canada website:

JudgingInStyleMay2009.JPGIf you are wondering why I am so surprised that DQ Canada is ORGANIZED, here are a few fun facts about recent team selections.  In 2007 it was decided to have head-to-head trials for the Pan Am Games. The locations for those trials were announced less than a week before the first was scheduled to take place. If you think I’m being nasty by calling the facility of the first selection trial ramshackle, check out this photo of the judges’ ‘booth’. I’ve judged at schooling shows that came up with a better place for the judge to perch. Actually, all the schooling shows I’ve ever judged did better than a piece of plywood on top of hay bales. I did have to scribe for myself once, though – ahhhh I’m getting sidetracked. Back to the Pan Am fairy tale: The trials were also scheduled without a day in between them. In the humidity of an Ontario heat wave, the horses traveled the couple of hours between venues and had to jog the same day. Way to get those horses peaking, folks! The whole thing was such a mess that one candidate from western Canada just said ‘forget it’ and stayed home. She happened to be Canada’s individual medal favourite, but one can only take so much bullshit before even the prospect of a medal isn’t worth pursuing.

Last year’s Olympic selections found a whole new can of worms to bash open. Canada was a little lean on reserve candidates to go into quarantine in Aachen. One didn’t want to drag a horse all the way to Hong Kong only to sit out the dance, and the other’s horse was deemed unfit to compete by the team vet. The result was a failed law suit against the federation. But by then everyone was quite used to law suits, having weathered at least one regarding the selection criteria during the previous months.

This time around DQ Canada’s people have not only put out their criteria far enough in advance that riders can properly plan for 2010, the criteria themselves look good. The declared riders will have a say in who their selectors are, the statement about the pre-quarantine inspection of horses is laid out in (we hope) ironclad terms, and the requirements for making the team are reasonable. There is also no sign of the popular-among-Europe-based-riders idea of adding extra weight to scores achieved in Europe (which was one of the worms in the Olympic can). Horse and rider pairs must obtain an average of at least 66% at four separate CDIs. The only fly in the ointment is primarily for riders in the west. This year several of California’s shows canceled their CDIs, and ran only national shows. If they don’t restore the CDIs, it might turn out to be impossible for a rider not based in Ontario or wintering in Florida to even get to four CDIs – unless they shake out their piggy banks and head there between now and next summer. But that’s not DQ Canada’s fault. Come on California. Aren’t you all rich enough to run your shows at a loss?