It’s a typical non-championship-year summer. There’s plenty going on, but none of it so mind blowing that if you missed it you’d feel out of touch. I know, because I was somewhat off grid for a couple of weeks, and it didn’t take me long to catch up with things. So here are a few items that I thought merited a bit of commentary before they get filed away in the ‘interesting but unimportant’ folder.
1. Rio test event canceled – it was all over the news this week. And I mean ALL OVER the news. Even the ratty little paper in the logger town where I grew up carried the brief story about the Athina Onassis horse show that was moving from Sao Paulo to Rio, and then wasn’t. The stated reason: lack of infrastructure at the venue. So what? It’s three years out from Rio 2016. What did London have in place at Greenwich three years before their Olympics? Other than a bunch of disgruntled dog walkers, they had squat. Hell, the test event they did stage, a year before the Olympics (which is the standard time line for a test event, btw), was a mini-disaster with multiple complaints about the footing in the space age floating arena that had everyone in a tizzy. Rio canceling a test event that is actually two years early is just not news. Not only that, I have been to Deodoro, watched the Pan Am Games there in fact. While it would have needed some upgrading for the Olympics, as a venue it certainly was up to snuff for a jumper show – at least it was in 2007. My guess is that ‘lack of infrastructure’ is a euphemism for ‘overgrown with weeds and derelict’, because it probably hasn’t been touched since the last horse van pulled out at the end of the Pan Ams six years ago. Using the standard dressage scoring system, I give this a relevance rating of two.
2. FEI unveils Solidarity Tree – the next time you find yourself forking over the cash for an FEI passport or the entry fees for an FEI sanctioned competition, take comfort in knowing your dollars are being wisely spent on such important items as a sculpture meant to represent a tree but which really more resembles a giant rendering of Princess Haya’s business card. If you are curious to learn what FEI Solidarity is, the press release details what does sound like a perfectly legitimate program to generate greater world wide interest in horse sport. But I question the need for the ‘tree’. Wouldn’t it be more meaningful to unveil a doping-free bush? Or an anti-horse-abuse flower? I give the Solidarity Tree a relevance rating of one.
3. The USEF’s descent into illiteracy – this isn’t news, or even new. The USEF media department has had various scribes dishing out bad English for as long as I’ve cared to notice. But they do seem to have reached a new high (or low). Here is the opening sentence of a release about recent Nations Cups in Europe: “The U.S. jumper’s showed their depth Friday as they earned top results in two hard-fought Furusiyya FEI Nations Cups.” So the US Jumping team consists of a single, very possessive member. Sometimes errors like this are caught and corrected in the version of the release posted on an organization’s website, but not this one. The linguistic atrocity is beaming away right on the USEF site. I could go on, but I know not everyone enjoys this kind of thing as much as I do. Relevance rating: 0.5
You may be wondering why I haven’t commented on the FEI Endurance round table that self-proclaims to have solved all of Endurance’s problems, thank you very much. The reason is because I think the Endurance round table will prove as effective in taking care of that discipline’s problems exactly as much as the FEI Hyperflexion round table miraculously did away with roll kür: not one little bit.
There is one actual event growing ever larger on the horizon, and I’m looking forward to lots of three am alarm calls to take in the European Championships on FEI TV in a couple of weeks. As hard as I am on the FEI at times (okay, most of the time), I do love my FEI TV. Isn’t there a Dire Straits song about it?