Holy ravioli, look at them scores. And if you have FEI TV, look at them rides (when they eventually put up the video-on-demand coverage, that is). I’ll be tuning in tomorrow at 11:45 lazy west coast time to watch the freestyles live. I can’t even begin to imagine what the scores will be like. And what will Astrid and Claartje use to describe them, having already used up ‘shatters’, ‘crushes’, ‘core shaking’, ‘smashed’, ‘blew it away’, ‘new incredible and historical heights’? Will the judges have to start giving out 11’s I wonder?

The great thing about FEI TV (which runs better on Firefox than Explorer, in case you are tempted to tune in, and you can buy a day pass if you don’t want to spring for the whole year) is that I didn’t have to buy a plane ticket to sit and shiver in the damp English weather, but I can still watch the action live – or could have if I had got up at 2 am. The bad thing about FEI TV is that they won’t put up the footage for on-demand viewing until the competition is all over. Since all the competition so far has taken place at a time when self-respecting west coasters are still slumbering, I did not catch any live coverage, except for the team medal ceremony. Following the Grand Prix, Totilas’ totally ass-kicking test was up on FEI TV, but now that the GP Special is over, Totilas was taken down and Parzival’s world record GPS is up. I don’t know why the folks at FEI TV did that. Surely their technology would allow them to leave up both tests for us to see.

Having watched only these two rides, I don’t have any context for their scores in relation to other performances; but there can be absolutely no doubt that Edward/Totilas and Adelinde/Parzival have taken the sport to a new level. I am struck dumb by the combination of controlled power and elasticity of both partnerships. BUT (yes, this is me after all, and I can’t keep a little fruit fly out of the ointment, not even this time)…I guess they’d better rewrite the FEI rules on extended trot and canter. ‘The athlete allows the horse to lengthen the frame’ is what the rules say, but the fact that the winning riders aren’t making any effort to do that suggests they don’t expect the judges to penalize them for a lack of change in neck length. This very topic created some heated debate at the GDF last year, with the two sides agreeing to disagree. I think the results of this week’s European Championships pretty much close the debate. You can get world record scores while not lengthening the frame in extensions; according to one report, Totilas got at least one ten for an extended trot in the GP. End of argument. But they should change the rules in that case. Just sayin’.

I think I’ll ask Heike Kemmer her opinion on the whole frame-lengthening situation when she comes to Canada on September 25/26. She’s giving a clinic at Stirling Hill Farm in Ontario. http://www.horse-canada.com/?page_id=2252 

If I didn’t already have a gig that week, I’d hop on a plane to Toronto; Heike is an incredible, classically beautiful rider, but also an excellent communicator. Those two qualities don’t always reside in the same body, as we know. Heike impressed me with her honesty, humour and humility at last year’s GDF, which those of you who are loyal blog readers may recall. I know a few riders who have participated in her clinics in Texas (how’d y’all manage to get Heike to visit the land of catfish and cowboys anyway?). I’ve heard her sense of humour can be lethal on occasion, but that spices things up for the spectators, and she is by all reports a great teacher. I’m sure that Heike will tell me if it’s even reasonable to expect a Grand Prix horse to lengthen the frame in an extended trot these days, given the current judging trends and the hot natured horses that rise to the top. I’ll report back on what she says after I ask her over the phone.

Onto more jovial matters. I thought Welly World was only for winter blogging, but here I am talking about it for the second week in a row. This news comes to us thanks to the idle web surfing of Jenn ‘Wordy’ Ward. The Palm Beach Daily News ran a story this week about the US show jumping WEG team selection trials that will be held at WEF next February and March. http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/content/news/2009/08/26/WEG082709.html 

That seems awfully early to have selection trials for WEG, which is seven months later. Top horses are made and broken in less time than that. George Morris has his reasons of course, but I will be curious to see if the team selected in the spring is still intact, come September. But that’s not the interesting part of the Daily News story. This is the interesting part: Mark Bellissimo and Michael Stone are “actively analyzing and preparing a bid” for the 2018 WEG! First of all, what are the chances of a US venue getting WEG so soon after Lexington? Second of all, and more importantly, where on earth will they put the cross country course? Maybe they can run it through all those multi-million dollar back yards near the show grounds. That would mean at least half the jumps would be over pastel pink or yellow stucco walls, but the palm trees are lovely. They could spice up the course by having all those zillions of estate gates open and close at set times so that riders have to manage their speed in order to arrive at an open gate to gallop through. I don’t want to go to Welly World for WEG. I want to go somewhere truly exotic (as opposed to fake exotic) like Australia or Ireland or…anywhere, really. Just not Florida. Please, someone, make a bid for the 2018 WEG and save the day. Normandy was the only bidder for 2014, and if Welly World is the only bidder for 2018, we’ll have no choice but to spend yet more time in the land of the ultra-tanned aging rich, with their gastric bypasses, facelifts and boob jobs.