The Canadian flag, that is. I was starting to wonder if I would ever get to say good things about Dressage in this country again (except of course, for the individual achievements of those talented people who have managed to reach for the stars in spite of our federation’s dysfunctions). Yes, I’m talking about the announcement yesterday of Robert Dover’s appointment as Canada’s new dressage Team Technical Advisor. So, not only did dressage borrow Canadian Eventing’s term for their own team guru David O’C (Technical Advisor), but they found him south of the border, just like the eventers did. What else do the DOC and Robert Dover have in common besides their commitment to Canadian equestrian sport? Oh, just a few Olympic medals. I think it’s safe to say Robert is qualified for the job. Boy am I glad the US didn’t pick him as their team coach (imagine an emoticon of someone making a raspberry). Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah!

Let the record show that KAREN SAYS DRESSAGE CANADA’S OWN THE PODIUM TASK FORCE AND BOARD DID A GOOD THING. I wrote a guest editorial in Horse Sport back in August; in it I said I hoped that I could be forgiven for not having absolute faith in DC to follow through on their promises that the Own the Podium cash would be used for the excellent purposes of sending athletes to Europe for experience and to hire a badly needed leader to guide top and up-and-coming athletes to international success. Well bless them, they’ve done it. They have sent three riders and their horses to Europe (Cheryl Meisner, Belinda Trussell and Diane Creech if you aren’t keeping up), and the deal is now signed with Robert. I’m not saying that everything is now all lah-di-dah, not at all. But let’s give credit where credit is due.

Robert wasn’t the only multiple Olympian candidate out of the three who were interviewed. I’m not feeling at liberty to say who the other two finalists were, because I may be ballsy but when something is clearly being kept confidential, I won’t be the muckraker. DCB hasn’t ever disclosed who the other two were, so I won’t either. Unless I get the ok from the other two candidates, I guess (you both know how to reach me). Robert brings one huge asset that we could use a lot more of around here: communication skills. The man blogs almost every day and has already blogged about how excited he is to be Canada’s new guiding light. Yesteray’s post is titled ‘O Canada’. Have a look:

Robert, may the Force be with you, and therefore with us.

I got an email this morning from Christilot Boylen, who is in Hungary with Belinda Trussell and Diane Creech. Belinda won the Intermediare II test today on Anton, so it looks like the land of goulash and paprika was an excellent place to start off their European adventure.

Since I’m already so busy handing out gold stars, here’s another one for the DC Rules Committee, which is chaired by Joanna Crilly. As a freestyle designer who works in both Canada and the US, I have frequent headaches dealing with the differences between the freestyle requirements and rules between the two countries – especially for clients who compete on both sides of the border. The Americans have for years put lists on the score sheets that tell riders what they are and aren’t allowed to include in the freestyle for that level, but Canada has left it all up to us to guess what might get a rider eliminated. The Rules Committee decided it was about time they came up with a similar set of guidelines, which are now attached as a second page to the freestyle score sheets. Even better, the guidelines are, at first glance, pretty much the same as in the US – which reduces even more the chances of getting into trouble.

In case you think I’m going all soft in the head or heart with today’s post, let’s get back to the issues that are not resolved. There is some pretty heated debate taking place on at least one chat site as a result of the news article I wrote for the October issue of Horse Sport:

I’ll make just one longwinded comment regarding Liz Steacie’s claim that what I wrote ‘reflects one person’s perception of things’. Not fair, Liz. I wrote about facts, and obtained comments from more than a few relevant people – including the DCB chair Sue Rothgeb. If you think that I was being biased and judgemental by giving voice to people who have become disenfranchised by the organization AFTER contributing as volunteers, or by interviewing the CEO of Equine Canada about real, existing problems (not made up, either by me or anyone I spoke to) in a part of the organization for which he is responsible, then we will just have to agree to disagree on what journalism is. It is no more possible for a piece of journalism to be perfectly representative of all points of view than it is for a dressage judge to be absolutely objective. We are human beings, not robots. By even deciding to write about Topic A and not Topic B or C, I have already moved one step away from perfect neutrality. I care passionately about the success of the sport and its athletes, in Canada and world wide. I write some articles to inspire, some to convey training expertise, and others to bring issues that affect the community to its members’ attention. If I write something that seems to paint an individual or group in a bad light, it’s because my research led me to that dark corner of the room and not to the rose tinted window pane.