With all the excitement of the dressage over the past two days I haven’t had a chance to keep y’all up to speed on the non-dressage news. I’m happy to report there were no serious casualties in the endurance, and while some of the horses looked pretty Biafran there were also some very fit looking steeds out there. Canada’s team had what I am pretty sure was a very good day, with three team members finishing and Canada placing seventh.
The medal ceremonies the next day were quite interesting. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (HRH’s husband the Sheikh that is) won the individual silver medal but apparently bowing his head to someone so that a medal can be hung around his neck was more culture shock than the good Emir could handle. If the issue was that he must not appear to submit to his wife, surely they could have put a man in charge of medals for that presentation – someone like FEI Sec. Gen. Alex McLin, for example – because sitting in the stands and sending a minion to receive your medal just isn’t cool. Security concerns for his safety hold no water for me as a viable excuse; he had just ridden 100 miles around the Kentucky countryside with neither armed escort nor bulletproof glass to protect him. I would dress in hijab and not drive a car if I visited the UAE. When in Rome show some respect and do as the Romans. That was rude.
The United Rudeness continued when the entire gold medal winning UAE team, which consisted of a trio of Al Maktoums, failed to show up at the press conference following the medal ceremonies. Contained in the statement of apology that was later issued was the following implausible explanation:
“Unfortunately, due to a miscommunication, the team members did not attend the post-medal conference and for that we apologise. We would have been honoured to speak to the media, but were were genuinely unaware that this was standard protocol.”
I wouldn’t buy that argument even if they didn’t have family connections to the FEI president. Great cultural bridge-building, guys.
We are half-way through the GPS and so far most people are not having their best day – the most noteworthy exception being Anabel Balkenhol. She rides as well as you would expect from the daughter of one of the greats and Dablino is a very worthy partner who looked much more at home in the ring today. I predict greatness for that pair in the near future. The afternoon promises higher scores I’m sure. The stands are fuller today but I still put the attendance at not more than 60% or so.
In case any judges are reading this, I have a question that I don’t think would go over so well in the press conference: why does it seem you don’t distinguish between a passage or piaffe that looks like something the horse would do if he got the wind up on a walk home from the field, and one that looks like it was ‘prepared’ with the whip? You know what I mean – the snatching hind leg. I’m not going all PETA on you here – We can all see the difference, so how do you folks in the gazebos reconcile the two? It doesn’t seem that there is anything going on marks-wise so I’m curious to know it all works in your minds.
Before I get painted a judge-hater (because of course that’s never happened before), let me tell you how much I loved Stephen Clarke (even more than I did already) when he responded to Ken Braddick in the press conference, who spared me the need to ask the question about Anabel’s 62-to-72 mark in the GP. I’m paraphrasing but the essence of what SC said was the discrepancy was not acceptable and the judges would be putting in some detention hours figuring out why it, among other anomolous marks over the past two days, happened – with the goal of stopping it from continuing to happen. Just imagine what garbage we would have been fed if we were still back in the Mariette days…
One last note before I post this – Ashley just had a tremendous ride on Poppy! That should guarantee them a spot in the freestyle on Friday night. Go Ash, go Poppy!