Last week the USEF issued a press release announcing the names of ten riders and 16 horses (Beezie’s got four!) short listed for the US Olympic Show Jumping team. Yesterday, my Google Alerts included a story from the Irish Times about the media day that Team Ireland held for that country’s Olympic hopefuls. The article included this adorable photo of Cathal Daniels and Bertram Allen doing their best impression of the Flying Frenchmen:
The Flying Irishmen
Canada is qualified to send an Eventing Team, a Show Jumping Team, a Para Dressage Team and two Dressage individuals to Rio. We are now approaching the final 100 days before Rio, and what do we know about our Canadian hopefuls? Very, very close to nothing at all.
Back in December when I wrote about Canada’s clandestine criteria, I had several phone conversations with EC’s now ex-High Performance Director, Amie O’Shaughnessy. Amie betrayed a certain amount of fear and trembling over the level of interest I took (and conveyed in both print and on line articles) in the decision to hide the criteria from any and all fans of our Canadian equestrian athletes. At some point I agreed to ‘cool it’ and stop hammering on about it. In return I was assured by Amie that starting in January EC would be rolling out all kinds of communication about important time lines and team announcements so that the Canadian public could be tempted to not forget that the team heading to Rio will actually include equestrians. I challenge any of you to find even one news item anywhere that mentions the 2016 Canadian Olympic Equestrian Team, other than stories appearing on the American site Dressage-News.com or one line mentions within press releases about results at competitions in Florida.
Amie’s of course long gone from EC now, and so it appears is any chance of us knowing how the Canadian hopefuls are progressing toward their shared goal. I know some of you are thinking that this shouldn’t surprise me at this point, and it doesn’t. But it still disgusts me.
Two weeks ago Ashley Holzer had some very impressive results at the last CDI in Florida with her London 2012 partner, Breaking Dawn. EC did issue a press release with this exciting news, which got me wondering if Ashley is declared with this horse for Rio. Not finding any sign of lists of declared riders in the spot on the DC site where such things used to be found, I emailed EC’s media department just to make sure I wasn’t missing something. Much to my surprise, there IS a list of declared athletes, and it IS on the EC website. It’s hiding down under a small link on the EC home page (at the bottom of course) for Rio 2016. I found its location only by studying the link itself for clue words. Sadly, the list includes only the names of the declared humans, so I’m no wiser regarding whether Ashley is declared with Breaking Dawn or any of the several horses she has been competing this past year.
What EC HAS been bombarding us with is numerous breathless announcements of the EC Convention, which is now under way. As recently as Monday this week I received a possibly desperate release telling me it was my last chance to register for the EC Convention. Now, this convention is taking place in Montreal, which is a fair distance from the majority of Canadians’ homes. Just who did EC think would be suddenly striking her or his forehead, making a ‘tsk’ noise and saying ‘Jeez! I really dropped the ball here. Now where’s the number for my travel agent?’ Which leads me to my curious question of today. I wonder how many paying attendees are at the convention. And I wonder how many of the gala guests are actually forking over the $150 for dinner that includes ‘gourmet appetizers’, as well as ‘exciting, themed games and entertainment’. There is no mention of wine in the gala description, so I will assume the one and a half c notes does not include alcoholic offerings.
Being of an inquisitive bent, I am of course curious about much more than whether the convention, with its star-studded list of speakers whose flights alone will have run to tens of thousands of dollars, lands in the red (very likely) or the black (possible but not plausible). I’m curious to know what EC’s new brand will be! I’m going to make a bet with myself that the new brand will sound an awful lot like the former name of EC, which was the Canadian Equestrian Federation.
I’m also curious to know if anyone presses the CEO/Sec Gen and Board to explain the fact that Lisa Lazarus was elected by the 27 members to be on the 2016 Board, even though when she was selected by the Nominations committee in early February, she did not fulfill the requirement that she be a Canadian resident (and by the way, I was wrong a couple of weeks ago about where she currently calls home. It’s Singapore, not Hong Kong). On February 10 EC announced the nominees, of which Lisa was one. According to the date on the title page of the amended bylaws that appear on the EC website (and that have been ‘amended’ to require only that board candidates be residents OR Canadian citizens), they were enacted on February 26th. I’m no lawyer but I’d say it’s almost certainly not legal to nominate a candidate at a time that she doesn’t meet the eligibility requirements. Lisa Lazarus IS a lawyer, but she still hasn’t responded to my Facebook message of last month.
I’ll wrap up today by reminding all of you of something that I think it’s important to keep in mind as I go on, and on, AND ON about all the happenings at EC that make me uncomfortable and suspicious (concealment of information naturally leads most sane people to become suspicious, even when nothing untoward is happening – which as per the above paragraph is not the case in at least one instance). I have been a member of EC since the 1970’s when it was called the CHSA, and I was a Junior C basic seat equitation competitor on a half Arab named Spooky (he could buck too). However, I have never held any office or employment with EC or any of its affiliated organizations, nor do I have any intention to do so in this lifetime. The success or failure of EC, or any of its employees and directors, is of no material consequence to me. I have no vested interests either way. I would love to be spending more time blogging about the FEI, or about Mark Bellissimo’s astonishing progress toward equestrian world domination. But I can’t take my eyes off EC right now. I have too many nagging thoughts swirling around in my head, and I have had too many off-the-record conversations with people in the know (and with people who should know a lot more than they do) for me to persuade myself that every last rumour is no more than that.