Feb409collage.jpgAnky Reins Supreme!


Its name is the Exquis World Dressage Masters, but it might as well be called the Anky Masters. Honestly, the organizers could not have milked that poor woman any harder. It wasn’t enough that she was the headliner of the competition; she also gave a special clinic under the lights on Friday night and was the ‘surprise’ entertainment (never before seen in North America!) after the freestyle – which she won – on Saturday night. The never-before-seen claim is a bit of a stretch. We’ve seen Anky, and we’ve seen reining. We just hadn’t seen Anky reining. I honestly don’t know where she finds the energy. It’s no wonder she went off course in the Grand Prix, what with the new test, plus having to memorize those reining patterns.

While I’m on the topic of the Grand Prix, let’s contemplate what happened after Anky finished just below the cut for the freestyle, in ninth place. The magnanimous Michael Barisone, who had placed fifth, opted to ride the Speciale instead of the freestyle, which cleared the way for Anky to get into the freestyle, and not be relegated to the B list in the Speciale. Lest there be any doubt as to Mr. Barisone’s motivation, here is what he told the media: “If it makes a big difference to let them see Anky it is my responsibility to the organizers and sponsors to let the people who are going to fill this place up come to see the people they are paying to see.” I wonder what Steffen and Hans Peter and Ashley (and all the others who took home a smaller cut of the prize money than they would have if Anky had not slipped into the class) think about that. It would be unbalanced reporting for me not to point out that by winning the GPS, Magnanimous Michael took home a much bigger chunk of change than if he had been fifth or sixth in the freestyle – not to mention a lot more ranking points.

Anky had a roughish GP test, and was hindered further by going off course twice.  I know, I know. In order for the sport to thrive and grow, we have to put bums in seats. And no one in the history of dressage has put more bums in seats than Anky. But to me the episode smacks of commercialism over sport all the same.  And just you wait: Anky’s Western clothing line is almost certainly going to be launched any day now.

To pun or not to pun, that is the question – the question I must ask Astrid at Eurodressage, who, in posting the press release on the Masters, dropped just one meaningful letter. “The reigning Olympic champion” became the “reining” Olympic champion. Mistake? I doubt it. But until reining is in the Olympics and Anky wins it, the pun in my headline above is cooler. Ha!

Our Special Friend (nb: this is not an exaggeration)

As I was enjoying my clandestine experience in the WEF VIP tent during the Sunday Grand Prix jumping (the press chief was unable to tear himself away from his other duties long enough to give me the promised press pass, so I had to sneak in the back way over a seagull crap-encrusted footbridge), the first colourful local to weave her noisy way into my line of vision was a lady named Selma. Just when I was recovering from our first meeting over a Cosmo at Player’s that evening, Selma reappeared, gesturing wildly and yelling. Planting a sloppy kiss on my pal Jenn Ward’s face with the accuracy of a Labrador retriever, she commended her: “honey, you rode great today.” Jenn has not seen a horse from atop its back for quite some time. She’s far too busy writing press releases for her client Eric Lamazing. 

I went to Player’s on Sunday all primed for a night of wide-eyed gaping at the meat market pick-up tactics of the equestrian world’s rich and famous. I did see one short-short skirt, but for the most part the crowd was multi-generational, multi-racial and wholesomely fun-loving – as long as you are ok with the idea that massive alcohol consumption is wholesome.  There were a few of what I perhaps uncharitably call burn victims (how can the surgeons DO that to people’s faces, and why on earth do the people keep paying to look that way?) but there really wasn’t much on the surface that separated the crowd from one in California, Aachen or any other place rich horse people congregate. I missed my grand photo opportunity when a would-be streaker was dragged onto the patio by the bouncers and reunited with his clothes before being deposited outside the establishment.  No, I do not have a streaker fixation. They find me.

There is so much to tell you about Welly World that I’m going to blog again at the end of the week. Stay tuned to read about the strangest item being auctioned off by Mason Phelps and Michael Barisone at the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center’s annual fundraiser, as well as news of who tore poor Mason a new one over taking photos of Madonna. I haven’t been completely ignoring the outside world, either. Those relentless FEI press releases are still delivering some pearls, including the announcement of the new sponsor of the Nations’ Cup series.  Now where is my sunblock? I don’t want to become a burn victim.