By this time next week Sin City will be crawling with horse lovers of all kinds, not to mention some of the world’s finest equine athletes. I’m one of those people for whom ‘once in a lifetime is plenty’ when it comes to visiting Vegas, but the World Cup Final is another animal altogether – one that has me returning to the world’s weirdest fake city for a fourth time. I’m a bit sad that Hickstead isn’t on the roster of jumpers, but I guess Mr. Lamazing didn’t go to enough qualifiers to please the people who control all the extra spots that are given out after the qualifiers are finished. Or maybe he just didn’t feel like going. Hickstead is my very favourite jumping horse, and that’s not just because he gallops under the Maple Leaf. Pretty and small! Just like Painted Black. I hope Edwina brings Idot du Chateau. Pretty? Check. Small? Check! The horse looks like it’s actually flying when it clears a huge oxer. I wonder what delectable surprises await the WC show jumping this time around. In 2007 both Beezie and Meredith fell off, which had us all catching flies in our mouths. We’ll just have to wait and see what unfolds next week. You see, show jumping does have it over dressage in one important respect. Not only is the winner not a foregone conclusion: just about anything might happen. And that can’t be said of dressage.

Thanks to FEI TV, what happens in Vegas no longer stays in Vegas. Those of you who saved your air miles and stayed home can always sign up for FEI TV and watch it too. A couple of hints before you start using the FEI’s newest venture into 21st Century web-tainment. Ignore the instructions on the site about using Explorer. It’s buggy: things like not seeing the tool bar for stop and play and pause, opening a screen but the previous one keeps playing (with sound), and it also freezes sometimes. Use Mozilla Firefox. It works better with Firefox, though not without a few glitches. Whatever browser you try, there is an irritating box that pops up before every new video that tells you it’s giving you a license to view the video. Don’t click on the Vegas previews, at least not today – they don’t work and you get in an endless loop of pop up boxes saying you have been denied a viewing license. And one more thing: if you have a Mac, don’t even bother taking out your credit card. FEI TV won’t run on Macs, as the FEI techies have confessed on the sign up page. Am I the only one who sees the irony in this? Aren’t Macs the superior computers for all things video and graphic? Certainly that’s what Mac users never hesitate to tell us yobs who persist in using PCs.

Blog Party! In Sin City!

If you are going to Vegas, you are invited to my blog party, the location of which will be divulged on this blog… as soon as I find a location. As for day and time, I’m thinking on Friday, after all the dressage fun is over and before the jumping starts. That would put it around 5 pm. Watch this space for an update on location. I would love it to be a White Trash blog party at our RV in the T & M parking lot, but I don’t want to lose my media accreditation or get kicked off the property. I might need to find a more polite venue to invite you all for a beverage.

This week’s reading suggestions:

I’m not sure why it’s up only now, but an interview with Mariette from late December is on Eurodressage this week:

If you are sick and tired of this story, there is nothing new to report in the interview. But if, like me, you just can’t get enough, click on the link and away you go. My favourite quote: “I’ve defended myself with tooth and claw.” If nothing else, the name of the interviewer is a cause for some mirth if you are an Anglophone with an appreciation for potty humour.

And if you really want to Mensa your mind, have a look at the FEI dressage rules’ new dress colour code document, also known as Einstein’s Other Theory of Relativity:

I have it from a reliable source (I know, I’m always talking about reliable sources but never revealing their names) that this document was prepared by Mariette and Sjef. I should think that must have been in the days before Sjef said ‘enough, I’m outta here’ and resigned from the DC. Thanks to Eduardo Muñiz for finding this bizarre new document and correctly assuming I would be interested in sharing it with everyone. If any of you are graphics specialists and can put the thing into some kind of English, please post a comment and help the dressage world understand if they are now allowed to wear green coats with red collars.

Not Spam

Yesterday an email arrived in my inbox from someone named Iman Moustakbal. I immediately hit ‘delete’ because I thought it was one of those ‘Dear madame thank you please will you forward me your bank details so I can deposit 500000000000000000 dollars into your account” messages. As the message disappeared into trash land, I realized that the subject line had said HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Hey, I thought. Isn’t that Princess Haya’s husband? So I retrieved the message from my ‘delete’ folder. It turns out the Sheikh conducted his own drug tests on his endurance horses and found that two of them had banned substances floating around in their systems. Ah, the story is too long for me to regurgitate. Here. Read for yourselves the press release, as well as the Princess’ one which followed shortly thereafter (and don’t worry, she’s still FEI Prez, just not in this particular instance):

Statement issued on behalf of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Through his official representative, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on Friday, 3rd April 2009, took the unprecedented step, for an FEI athlete, of contacting the FEI’s (F??ation Equestre Internationale) Legal Department to advise them that, following routine post competition testing carried out by Sheikh Mohammed’s own personnel, his team had reported to him positive tests in competition horses on which he had competed.  One horse had competed internationally, the other had competed in a national event (UAE).

As a lifelong horseman with the highest regard for his horses welfare and the rules and regulations governing all horse sports, His Highness immediately requested his representative to contact the FEI and advise them of this information in order that they may correct the placings as Sheikh Mohammed considers his results null and void.  Additionally, he has offered the highest level of cooperation to the FEI.

The substances that were found by his team were Guanabenz and 16b Hydroxy-Stanozolol. 

Whilst completely unaware and utterly condemning the administration of these substances, His Highness has volunteered his acceptance that he is legally the ‘Person Responsible’.  Nevertheless, for his own satisfaction and the welfare of his horses, His Highness has instigated a widespread internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the cases – the results of which will be shared with the FEI.

Having previously been entered for an Endurance race in the UAE on Saturday, 4th April 2009 Sheikh Mohammed started the race and was holding a significant lead.  However, in view of the fact that his own internal investigations are not yet complete and the fact that he had notified the FEI of the positive cases, His Highness decided to withdraw before completing the course, in effect imposing an immediate ban on himself despite having not received such a requirement from the FEI at that point.

Statement issued on behalf of HRH Princess Haya of Jordan.

On Friday, 3rd April, HRH Princess Haya was officially notified by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), of which she is President, that her husband HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE, Ruler of Dubai, through his representative, had advised the FEI of positive tests in horses on which he had recently competed in the discipline of Endurance.


By return, Princess Haya recommended that the role of President in this instance, and all matters relating to this subject, be deferred to Mr Chris Hodson (NZL), Second Vice-President of the FEI, who is himself a lawyer. 


Additionally, although Endurance is not an Olympic discipline, but in view of her position as an IOC Member, Princess Haya immediately notified the IOC Ethics Commission of her decision to defer the Presidency of the Federation in this matter.


In all other respects, Princess Haya retains the Presidency of the FEI.