For those of you not heading out into the traffic jams at bridges and borders this Labour Day weekend, you might be looking to kill some time on the World Wide Web. One thing I cannot recommend for the moment is subscribing to FEI TV. I remember talking to a man named Christian Osterode at FEI TV after the WC Final. “Video on demand for us is not anywhere as complicated as live broadcast,” he told me at that time. Oh really? Then why are Parts 2, 3 and 4 of the European Championships dressage freestyle not working today on FEI TV? There is some serious bugginess going on. On the home page the link windows to Parts 2, 3 and 4 are blank white, and you can’t click on them. Parts 2 and 4 can be accessed from other pages. You can watch Parts 1 and 2, and Part 4 until half-way through Anky’s ride, when the video stutters to a halt. Part 3 isn’t there at all, and that’s the one everyone would want to see, because it’s where Adelinde’s ride is. Edward’s is in that missing segment too, but his ride is available on its own as a highlight. I couldn’t resist watching it again – Totally Totilas doesn’t need music to give me goosebumps. I must confess that I noticed this time there are parts of the music which did have a tempo match with Totilas: most of the trot work and some of the canter work. But it’s still tragic that the passage music doesn’t match.

 And why are only the winning tests from the GP and Special available on demand, by the way? DQs should not complain though – at least there is something to watch. There is no show jumping from Windsor up there at all, except for the winning speed round and winning individual round. It’s now a week after the Euro Champs, for Pete’s sake. Another downfall of the FEI’s efforts at 21st century entertainment is the lack of information about what was upcoming and at what time. During the Euros, if you went to the live broadcast schedule, every single event said broadcast time was ‘to be confirmed’ (it actually still says that, even though the competition is long over). There has been no announcement about what to expect in terms of on demand video from Windsor, or when to expect it.  Is this all we’re getting from the Euro Champs, for example? Or is show jumping coming eventually?

The FEI’s communication challenges are not confined to FEI TV, either. I just received a cryptic press release about HRH meeting with the ARD and ZDF, but the release fails to identify who ARD and ZDF are. I think they might be German TV stations, based on the content of the press release which says that the three parties agreed that doping has to be cleaned up in reference to continued TV coverage. The fact that the press release is in German first and English second, something I’ve never noticed in an FEI press release before, suggests that the target audience is mainly of the Teutonic kind.

And speaking of doping, the verdict has now been handed down regarding Isabell Werth’s horse Whisper and the fluphenazine found coursing through this veins. You can read the entire report by going to the FEI doping decision page and clicking on the name of the horse that interests you:

I am going to allow a bit of boastfulness and point out that the FEI’s position regarding Isabell’s Big Mistake sounds pretty much identical to the arguments I laid out in my June 26th posting (Shiver Me Timbers). The one thing Isabell just didn’t seem to get throughout the hearing process is that it’s never ok (or legal, for that matter) to give horses fluphenazine. Getting caught is only part of the problem. Having done it in the first place is the real issue. Another hard lesson was that she didn’t make the wisest choice in vets to consult on matters of doping. It turns out that Dr. Stihl is the same vet who was responsible for the violations of other riders in the past, including Ulla Salzgeber. Isabell ‘should have been aware’, says the tribunal’s report.

Another doping case that has finally been settled more than a year later, is the one involving Eddie Macken at last year’s Dublin CSIO5*.The report (which also can be found at the link above) indicates that the incident was a bit of a cock-up on everyone’s part – both the FEI officials at the event and Eddie’s – which resulted Eddie being served a monetary slap on the wrist. No one comes out of that one smelling like roses or looking like the brightest light on the Christmas tree, that’s for sure.

Good old Youtube is of course your alternative source for the Windsor footage. Some of the video is of pretty sketchy quality (one video of Edward’s GP Special was taken by pointing a video camera at a TV screen), but it’s there and it’s not buggy to get to. Some of it has no sound, some of it is clearly pirated from FEI TV’s live coverage, but there are also freestyle videos with NO COMMENTARY. That’s a bonus. Someone told me that earlier this week the unauthorized footage was being yanked from Youtube, but apparently that isn’t happening any more.

Something I do recommend you follow this weekend is Burghley. Canadian Eventing has used their share of Own the Podium loot to send four riders with horses to England; two of them are competing at Burghley. I’m sure that Kyle Carter and Diana Burnett are, right this moment, thinking about their cross country rides tomorrow. I don’t need a crystal ball for that kind of prediction. There will be FREE video of the cross country, and Burghley TV even has a sign up page that you can fill out so that you will get an email to alert you the video has started. Now THAT’s communication. After dressage, Diana and Manny are sitting in 38th with 56.8 penalties; Kyle and Madison Park are 46th with 58.3. That puts them in the middle of the pack, which – present company considered – is a pretty admirable place to be. Both Diana and Kyle go fairly late in the day tomorrow, so there is no excuse not to watch online and send success vibes their way.

In DQ news closer to home, it’s interesting to note the timing of Gil Merrick’s resignation from USEF. There has been no statement about the reason for his resignation (just a comment that he’s looking forward to his return to corporate America), but here’s my take: if it had nothing to do with the controversy surrounding the hiring of Anne Gribbons as US Technical Advisor, he probably would have not chosen this exact moment to resign, or to give just 2 weeks notice for a position that could take months to fill. It’s a bit of cold comfort to Canadians, as evidence that we are not alone with our problems in Dressage Land. But the unfortunate reality for Canada is that our problems define us. By the way, in case you hadn’t heard, Claire Milton has now resigned from the DCB. That’s two resignations in two months. You know that joke about  a camel being a horse designed by a committee? I am starting to wonder if the acronym DCB actually stands for Dressage Camel Board. You know what DCB did this week? They sent out a ‘special edition newsletter’ by email to DC members. For some reason it didn’t reach all members, and it hasn’t been posted on the website. It also didn’t come from Julie Cull’s usual email address at EC or from a DC email, but from an EC general inquiries email address that I have never seen before. Contained in the ‘newsletter’ was the ‘news’ about the dismissal of High Performance, the replacement board members for Kerri and Claire, and a few other items.

It’s an amazing coincidence that this unprecedented ‘newsletter’ addressed virtually every question I had asked DCB chair Sue Rothgeb over the past weeks, in researching the article which will appear in the October Horse Sport. It was also sent in a slightly different form last week as a press release to the magazine’s editor, along with a request that it be published in its entirety in the next issue – that would be the issue where my article will appear. But not to worry about being bored by old news or repetition. My article represents the situation from every point of view, not just DCB’s. Jennifer Anstey also wrote a very interesting editorial for that issue, so if you care about Dressage (with horses or camels) in Canada, make sure you put your hands on the October issue.