I am back in the Sunshine State for my annual dose of plastic surgery radio ads and walking, talking display models of same. I spent last night shopping and dining where the rich and refurbished prance around the pink stucco haven of Palm Beach’s City Square. I hope this isn’t used against me at some future time, but I think I might actually be starting to succomb to the sunny skies, swaying palms and ferociously active social scene down here. I think I  might even like it.

Coach Dover had reason for pride after the first FL CDI on the weekend, for as he points out with great enthusiasm on his blog (www.doversworld.com), between Ashley Hozer and Belinda Trussell the Grand Prix division belonged to Canada. It wasn’t all smiles and WEG qualifying scores this weekend though.  The results for most of the Canadians surely fell far short of expectations, and Stephen Clarke was even on the panel. Looks like the new Santa Clause in the world of judging is a certain Louise Koch, who gave out scores worthy of European Champions in CA the week before. It will be rather interesting to watch the next couple of qualifiers on both coasts, and see if perhaps those who stayed ‘west’ may have made a wise strategic move after all.

Something else happened on the west coast that I daresay (indulge my bias as a BC girl just a little here) is almost unheard of in DQ land.  Wendy Christoff is one of the handful of Canucks who has cast her lot with the CA qualifiers – and maybe the Edmonton CDI who, bless them, not only upgraded to three stars but also moved their dates to July to fall within the WEG qualifying deadline. Last Friday Wendy’s good, good friend Terry Scott got a few friends together to throw Wendy a surprise ‘go forth and get your scores’ party before Wendy and her beloved Pfalstaff head south. By a few friends I mean about 50 people were packed into Terry’s house, including nearly every single professional dressage trainer and coach within a hundred miles. Sure, we sometimes see the same people converge to share air space from time to time around the DQ world, mainly at shows and fundraisers. I know that doesn’t make last week’s event special in itself. However, the mood of this very fine party was one of absolute heartfelt support of Wendy, who is herself a trainer and coach. It was a rare display of something we find in short supply in this individual pursuit of singular aims: community. It was the most fun evening I have ever spent with DQs – almost as fun as hanging out with eventers, in fact.

I arrived somewhat late to the Wendy shindig (I hate surprises, even when they aren’t for me) and when I saw the clogged-with-duallies cul-de-sac where the party was, my first thought was that Wendy must have known what was up when she had arrived. Wendy later said that either she is really out to lunch or (better yet) already very focused on the task at hand in CA, because she didn’t recognize any of the vehicles. She just thought one of Terry’s neighbours must be having one hell of a party.

But back to Welly World. So far I haven’t heard any (repeatable) gossip that isn’t already out there, such as the unfortunate life of Darren Chiacchia and HorseTV.com winning the USEF’s 2009 Media Excellence Award. I have only one comment about this award. Donkeys. The USEF must be focusing on donkeys and mules this year. Seriously. HorseTV.com has apparently won this distinction based entirely on a single combined driving event that they no doubt covered with great panache – but come on people. Media Excellence? If you go to the press page on HorseTV’s website (www.horsetv.com), the latest press release is dated July 14th of last year. The dressage channel on their site still says ‘side pass to piaffe’ in spite of my jab about it last year on this very blog. There are no recent competitive FEI events on the site at all – unless you think of the 2007 World Cup Final as ‘recent’. Even the mule training videos haven’t been updated past lesson 3, though perhaps that’s as far as most people’s patience lasts before the mule mysteriously disappears from the field, never to be seen again. It must be the infomercials that clinched the prestigious prize for Bernie and his crack team. They have plenty of those on HorseTV. Ok I exaggerate. They don’t. I don’t know why they won. I really don’t.

This Sunday I’ll be hitting Players with a few friends just to see if non-horsey local guys still think it’s the best Sunday pick up joint for hot chicks they know of. I’ll take photos, I promise!