After a few relaxing, jet-lagged days spent following Colin Farrell’s bad-boy footprints around the medieval streets ‘in Bruges’, I have arrived in Holland rested and ready to absorb all that comes my way at the Global Dressage Forum. Of course I’m looking forward to the whole darned thing, but a couple of sessions hold especial intrigue, including all the judging system goodies, particularly Katrina Wuest’s presentation on objectifying the assessment of difficulty in freestyles. Part of her proposal includes riders submitting information to the jury about what their choreography includes beforehand (bringing to mind images of figureskating commentary: ‘this will be the quad – oh, he did a double instead’). Another area of exceeding interest to me will be the session on doping. With her baby date looming so near, Isabell has the perfect excuse not to come and weigh in on the matter that has become a front-and-centre issue in dressage, pretty much entirely due to her flirt with fluphenazine earlier this year. I know I’m probably far from representing a majority voice with my criticism (and even cynicism) in the Isabell case, so I’ll stop there for now. I suppose we have her to thank in a way that doping is being taken seriously enough to make the GDF agenda this year.

Isabell DID speak about her suspension on The Dressage Radio Show. The program is agonizingly drawn out to almost an hour, and poor Isabell was forced to maintain a monologue in English that would make anyone who knows how exhausting it is to speak at length in a second (or third) language cringe in empathy. The interview is not quite fascinating, but for die-hard Isabell fans, or people like me who want to hear how she is presently spinning the circumstances that landed her in the muck with the FEI and German Feds, you can tune in by going to:

Doping is likely to be not the only controversy to cross the stage over the next two days. A youtube video of Swedish rider Patrick Kittel riding his horse until it was blue in the tongue has all the anonymous chatterboxes losing their shit on CotH et al. I have a lousy internet connection here at my bucolic bungalow in the forest, but I will watch the youtube video tomorrow at the GDF and (my promise to you, Mike) if no one else asks the question during the Forum, I will make sure to raise my hand and bring the scandal into the fray.

It’s a sunny autumn Sunday here in the Low Countries, and a pair of lovely horses pulling a sporty cart just trotted past my window – and I mean right past my window, at a distance of about 15 feet. I hope that this part of Holland one day hosts WEG. It’s very much a horse culture here, with everything from miniature Shetlands to Friesians visible in fields along the roadsides. I’m off to visit the mystery person I mentioned the other day. I have a wing (wo)man with me – FEI rider and US dressage judge Kari McClain – and I promise to share the details of our adventure with you tomorrow, before the GDF gets under way with the inevitable introduction from Richard Davison, multi-tasking rider, chef, Dressage Task Force member, and emcee extraordinaire.