Hi all. Sorry for the lack of entertainment on Wednesday, but the intense schedule – work and social – got the better of me this week. Some people like to see me at 7:15 am, while it’s cool and quiet at the barn. And then it’s off to the rat races for the whole day. A quiet evening at home with a delivered pizza from Sal’s? Hardly. I’m not allowed to miss a single moment of the action at Oli’s, Kontiki, Player’s etc. Tonight it’s Equestrian Idol. I’m taking the video camera to capture the best and worst of the evening (think karaoke with show jumpers), so check back here tomorrow for reality TV, Welly style.

It may be as flat here as the earth is in the minds of creationists, but what the place lacks in geographic variety it more than compensates for with the roller coaster lifestyle. I went to the Gold Coast CDI at the Jim Brandon Center two weeks ago, and not only did I see a large number of Canucks, but there were even several from the west. It seems the magnetic pull of Florida is getting so strong that no one – not even people who are much, much closer to California – can resist it. That is, of course, if they can spare the time and find room in the expense account to come to Welly World. I must confess that one of my primary reasons for going to the show was that I was curious to see how many helmets there would be in both warm up and show ring. I’ll be honest here: I was more than a bit surprised to see not more than about half the riders wearing brain buckets. The USDF has passed a rule that everyone from First to Fourth level – regardless of age, professional status or hair style – must wear a helmet at all time while mounted at shows. FEI riders can do ‘whatever the hell they please’, in the words of one slightly disgusted American I talked to. I’ve chatted with a few people whose grumblings about nanny states sound a lot like those I voiced in this blog about the Canadian rule when it was tabled, then shelved, in November. Here in Florida you can ride a motorbike without a helmet, so requiring helmets in a dressage test does seem a bit disproportionate (yes, I am expecting a small landslide of comments – have at ‘er!). I have been hanging out with the hunter and jumper crowd a bit this week, and I can tell you that no one on that side of the discipline fence is flatting his or her horse in a Charles Owen, no way Jose. And speaking of Jose, I think it will be a long, long time before the Mexican grooms who are de rigueur around here start sporting anything more protective than a baseball cap as they hack their bosses’ horses to and from the WEF.

I’m headed home on Monday, but am already shopping for my return ticket in a month. With the World Dressage Masters and the tenth edition of the Breast Cancer Challenge of the Americas conveniently taking place (without conflicting) on the same second weekend of March, not even the most jaded of DQ observers would dare stay away. I just hope I can get enough sleep between now and then to survive a second visit to Welly World in one winter.