Jeez Louise. Can’t a girl take a sick break without all hell breaking loose? There is so much to be opinionated about right now I hardly know where to start. What I really want to do is go on and on AND ON about how incredibly awesomely wonderful Cavalia is (they opened in Vancouver last week and due to popular demand from the horse community and beyond they’ve already added another week to their schedule here). But I guess I’d better make my chronological way back to the place I left off before the flu made an extended visit to my respiratory system. 

So, the World Dressage Masters. Overall I give the event an A++ for happening at all, and for being staged with a lot of style. I’m not alone in that opinion, as you can read on Eurodressage. Akiko Yamazaki, who should herself be thanked for picking up the WDM ball and getting it rolling after ESP dropped it down a manhole, made glowing remarks in an interview with Sheryl Ross. It’s a fine interview, but I wish someone in editorial had thought to use something other than Akiko’s initials in the Q&A. For the first few questions I kept thinking she was answering every question by exclaiming ‘Ay!’ The Jim Brandon Center looked glorious and I for one wanted to buy a plane ticket to France right then and there – that’s how French the folks at IPC managed to make that swampy little bit of Palm Beach County look.  Where the WDM failed in a smallish way was no fault of the organizers. The GP and the GPS were both exciting classes to watch, with some horses and riders really reaching for the high bar. The freestyles, on the other hand, not so much. I had been told beforehand that the Jim Brandon arena has ‘excellent acoustics’, and it does – if you think music should sound like it’s playing from inside Oscar the Grouch’s garbage can. The metal roof and all those metal beams and pillars created some pretty clappy echoes in the music. Also suffering at the hands of the sound system was Hans Peter Minderhoud, whose ill-thought-out presentation during dinner (no fault of his, just a silly time to hold a clinic) was pretty much inaudible. And I’m not sure if the sound system had anything to do with how the riders performed, but there were a lot of less-than-peak performances. No one had new music, either – though Steffen announced afterward that he had promised Anne Gribbons it would be the last time we hear his time-travelling pop/rock medley. I just don’t think anyone was on fire that night and a couple of times it showed rather glaringly. The most memorably unbeautiful moment was in Anne Van Olst’s ride on Clearwater when she did an extended canter and looked almost as if she was going to keel right over to one side when she brought him back. I don’t know what was going on but it didn’t look like fun for the horse. And of course the undisputed low point of the evening was when Anja Ploenzke (she of the lovely blue coat and the lovelier bay horse) was stopped for what Wim Ernes said was blood on the horse’s mouth. From where I was sitting about 15 metres away from M I could not see anything at all. Anja had quite the chat with Wim before turning around and leaving. If there had been any pinkness in the horse’s saliva when she was pulled up, it was long gone by the time she had exited about 3 meters from where the media were sitting. I can understand why the judges are clinging so tightly to their welfare guns after eliminating Adelinde from WEG. But I sure hope the blood rule – real or imagined – is at the top of the FEI’s list of dressage topics for change at the 2011 Assembly. Am I the only one who sees the common sense and compassion in having a rule that states if the horse has blood on the mouth it must be excused but that after careful examination by an FEI vet be allowed to re-start later in the day?

So that was the Masters. Long may it live on this continent and find a spectacular setting for 2012. Depending on who you believe there are potentially as many as three new dressage complexes going up around Welly World in the next year. As for ESP’s big plan to build, I’m not holding my breath. Why would they bail out of all their dressage commitments, then turn around three months later and announce – during the WDM just to bring the irony score up – big plans for a dedicated dressage show complex? If Robert Dover can make this happen he really might be a dressage god. 

Well that was long winded. I’ll abbreviate the rest of my post into two liners: one to describe the news and one to describe my opinion. Here goes:

On the 61 Canadian dressage horses on the Pan Am Declared list: holy crap that’s a great sign for our sport!

On DC’s hasty implementation of a helmet rule for everyone at below-FEI level (and what about the FEI young horse classes? I know when I rode Theo in them I was in the most danger I’d experienced since my eventing days): three P’s: paternalistic, patronizing and prudish. I wear a helmet ALL THE TIME when mounted and when going to bars with my under-25 friends. But at 44.75 years of age I do not want to be told to wear it.  I do hear the distinct sound of a knee jerking…

On HCBC’s vote at their AGM on March 26th to become a hell no province: yes, it’s true. Almost everyone is afraid to say anything about it until EC has been told,  but you know me – I’m never one to shy away from making waves in the sewage lagoon. I’ve heard the vote was 15 against signing the EC Service Agreement and 12 for. As I said in a previous post, I am showing HCBC what I think of their decision by choosing not to rejoin HCBC this year. And I saved some dollars in the process. Before you rejoin the BC Equestrian Separatist Party, you might want to look into that, since in the hell no provinces you are not required to be a card carrying separatist party member in order to compete at EC Shows.

On the hiring of Markus Gribbe to take on the newest title dreamed up by DC, Dressage Canada Technical Leader of High Performance: no opinion yet. I’ve never met the guy or seen him teach.  

On Gaddafi digging in and bombing his own people (I know, not horsey but this is my blog and it’s important): the world – especially Libya – will be a better place without him if someone can manage to finally take him out.  

Say, you know what I just realized, apropos of nothing at all? Dressage is a word that is typed entirely with the left hand.