It’s Rumour Week! NAJYRC is ON! Plus, more fascinating grammar from FEI and WEF press releases, Madonna’s keenly felt presence in Wellington, as well as an update on what Mariette has been up to lately.

My dressage freestyle design work puts me in regular contact with a number of Juniors and Young Riders. They have been anxiously awaiting any announcement of a venue for the 2009 NAJYRC. Rumours range from there being no championship at all this year, to Colorado, to Lexington, KY. I have good news for all you keen and talented youngsters and dedicated parents (cha-ching!): the 2009 Championship will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. According to a KY Horse Park staffer I spoke to just today, the only thing holding up an official announcement is the FEI, who have to do some rubber stamping in order for the venue to be sanctioned. In the meantime, consider my words unofficial and unconfirmed, but good cause for optimism all the same.

Another rumour I have managed to confirm is that Eva Salomon is, in fact, leaving her post as Dressage Director at the FEI. Eva has always been very quick to answer any questions I had, even when they were stupid or prying ones, and she even went so far as to answer them with information that actually pertained to my question. I, for one, will miss her as my link from far off Canada to Mission Control in Switzerland. I don’t know the reason for her departure (that question seemed a bit too muck-raky even for me), but she says she plans to stay involved in the dressage world. 

The FEI’s dressage press releases continue to fascinate with their original use of the English language. Here is one highlight from the WC qualifier in Amsterdam last weekend: “Dutch Adelinde Cornelissen was faced with major problems in the Grand Prix yesterday when her horse Parcival was disturbed by rumour and flashlights and got scared to death.” World Cup Dressage, Halloween edition! I noticed the subscriber-site printed the release verbatim – ‘rumour’ and all – but Eurodressage’s Astrid Appels revealed her eagle eye for English and made several improvements to the version she ran, such as exchanging ‘rumour’ for ‘noise from the crowds’.

Not to be outdone by the FEI, the WEF in Florida exercised poetic license with language again this week. The World Dressage Masters schedule appears to have created some insurmountable challenges for the writer: “The schedule for this week is the veterinary jog on Thursday afternoon of the horses invited to participate in the event that kicks off the Exquis World Dressage Masters global tour.” Are those modifiers dangling, misplaced, or both? I’m not sure, but something’s very wrong with that sentence. The release also alluded to “a special event never before seen in the Americas” to take place on Saturday night. “Details will not be disclosed until Saturday night.” Hey, maybe they’re getting that streaker who cavorted around during the show jumping final in Hong Kong last summer, dressed in nothing more than a pink tutu and a black sock (hint: the sock wasn’t on his foot). If you missed that bit of Olympic levity or if you think I’m making it up, the sponsors who paid the streaker to promote their website – now there’s a niche career – have a sweet clip you can watch at

The PR in Wellington sent out yet another zinger yesterday in their continued promotion of the World Dressage Masters: “The huge response from across the United States and Europe to the inaugural Exquis World Dressage Masters Musical Freestyle in Wellington led to the organizers announcing Wednesday that admission to the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special will be free.” Now, I am sometimes not the quickest person to pick up on subtleties. It took me years to realize that the ‘hood’ in Boyz N Da Hood referred to an abbreviation of ‘neighbourhood’ and not the hood of a car. But I am completely missing the logic of announcing that an event is in such demand that the organizers are making it free.  Ok, enough about press releases – for this week anyway. Onto even bigger gossip.

Che Madonna

The people in Wellington are so cool – especially after those $10 million in improvements I wrote about last week – that even Madonna has to go and hang out with them. This is no rumour, and there are photos to prove it ( Of course while she is chillin’ with the cool folks in Florida she is also doing her best to go unnoticed – by wearing a ball cap with a picture of herself looking like Che Guevara. In order to be legit around all those horsey types she had two event horses shipped to Florida from England. Whoa there, Madonna.  It’s polo, jumpers and dressage in Welli, not eventing. And anyway, I would have thought eventing was too earthy – a bit too much dirt under the fingernails – for the Material Girl. What we really need is to get her hooked on dressage. Look what that super model has done for dressage’s image in the UK, and then imagine what a shot in the arm it would be to have Madonna out there passaging with the best of them on this continent. Just think how great she would look in a tail coat with her cone bra on. Come on over to the dressage queen team, Madonna. Matching saddle pads, vests and polo wraps….the clothes are way better.

The Mariette Chronicles

It just wouldn’t be my blog without an occasional update on the whereabouts of the FEI’s deposed dressage queen. Now, this IS a rumour, but I’m going to share it anyway because my source was quite reliable. Her most recent efforts to return to power, I’ve been told, were through the Belgian Federation, where she attempted – and failed – to have herself crowned as its president. Ah, addiction to power. It’s a tough one to shake; just ask Mugabe.

I will be checking in from Florida next week with stories of my adventures in pink stucco land, starting with my upcoming evening at The Player’s Club on Sunday night. I know cameras are a no-no in bars, but I’ll try to smuggle one in.