Archive | June, 2012

What if Totilas had never been sold…?

25 Jun

The xtranorml videos would have lost a fertile source of input.

The Dutch would be smiling, talking about having a lottery for their individual spot in the upcoming Olympics–so that some deserving boy or girl (with a good moving pony) could really get a taste of what it is like to be an Olympian.

The equestrian press and BBs might have withered on the vine,so to speak. Just this week,it is possible to opine on the weighty topic (yet again. Is this the fourth time?) of the health of Totilas.

One. Hagen, a year,ago. Picture it: Das wunder-pferd will make his triumphant entry,blah blah blah.

Nope–something wrong with a hoof injury.

Two. Triumphant return to Frankfurt for World Dressage Masters, blah blah blah.

Nope. ‘Small ligament strain’ apparently much worse, keeps him out  for months.

Three. Triumphant return  to Wold Dressage Masters in Florida, etc etc.

Nope. After Frankfurt, a decision is made to have TV crew come film das wunder-pferd to show he is indeed back in work. Two days later, he is pronounced lame again.

Sidebar: the triumphant return to the PSI stallion show  a few months later also turns into total fiasco (horse refuses to even move and then leaves arena) ,followed by one of the world’s top trainers giving suggestions and the actual (wait for it) triumphant return at Hagen, a year later. Immediately followed by the German press  arguing about the training methods used to create the triumphant return.

and now–Four.

Which actually has four possible realities:

Eins. Matthias Alexander Rath, current rider of Totilas, really is sick with mono and cannot ride at Aachen.

Zwei.  MAR is not sick, but a political decision has been made to NOT have the entire German team at Aachen, thus preventing the judges from comparing all the performances to the ones a few weeks later at Greenwich  AND allowing the Triumphant Return of Totilas at the biggest stage of all,  The Olympics,instead of Aachen.

Drei.  Totilas decides not to be outdone by Rafalca (ridden by Jan Ebeling and the current darling of  media everywhere thank to Stephen Colbert etc). Totilas signs up for star turn with Johnny Depp and tweaks ankle attempting  pas de deux.

Vier.  Something is yet again wrong with Das wunder-pferd.

Even the German Olyumpic committee is concerned enough to have made arrangements to go vist das wunder-pferd at home–this time he will be ridden for the critical eyes by Rath,Sr.,father of the rider.  The German Olympic qualification rules  clearly state that  all combinations must show at both Balve and Aachen. Still, no one is pretending that there is any question of not including das wunder-pferd on their team presuming horse and rider are sound.

Well, the answer will be forthcoming because the Olympics are now only a few weeks away.


Saudi Arabia, where public sports events for women are banned, will allow females to compete in the Olympic Games for the first time.

The issue of women in sport remains extremely sensitive in the ultra-conservative Muslim state, where women are not even allowed to drive cars and the authorities shut down private gyms for women in 2009 and 2010.

Equestrian contestant Dalma Malhas is likely to be the country’s only female athlete to qualify for this summer’s Games in London which get underway on July 27.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei are the only three countries never to have sent women athletes to the Olympics.

But Qatar has already announced it will send a three-woman team to London made up of shooter Bahia Al-Hamad, swimmer Nada Wafa Arakji and Noor Al-Malki, a 100m and 200m sprinter.

Brunei, meanwhile, will send a woman to London as part of their two-athlete delegation – 400m hurdler Maziah Mahusin.




<<Although Saudi Arabia has now agreed to allow its female athletes to compete for their country, stories that showjumper Dalmas Rushdi Malhas will ride at Greenwich are not correct.


The 20-year-old rider had not qualified to ride at the Olympic by the cut off date of 17 June and so it is not possible for her to compete there. >>


Yup yup yup, the death of an heir-elect did not prevent the Saudis from issuing grateful press releases announcing the triumphant return of their 2 star MALE riders from nasty ol’ FEI suspensions (Surely by now FEI knows who controls the power as well as the purse strings???) but the Saudis could not be bothered ensuring that a FEMALE athlete  was qualified or even entered on any list for qualification.

Mainly because they never had any intention to send such a creature as a female athlete.




The Olympics and FEI decisions…

19 Jun


The Olympics—it is starting to get real.

Team Canada:

Ashley Holzer and Breaking Dawn or Pop Art (they are 1,2 on the list but Ashley can only ride one)

David Marcus and Chrevi’s Capitol

Jacquie Brooks and D- Niro

Reserve: Diane Creech/Devon L

Canadian Dressage team riders will compete at the Harpury Festival of Dressage in England (July 4-8), and hold their  training camp  at the farm of Natalie Allen, a British student of Canadian coach Markus Gribbe .

Team USA:

Steffen Peters/Ravel (and back-up Legolas)

Tina Konyon/Calecto V

Jan Ebeling/Rafalca

Individual (as soon as FEI formally announces): Adrienne Lyle/Wizard

Reserve: Heather Bliz/Paragon

US leaves for England July 9 ,goes  to “ private farm”; then goes to Hickstead for a ‘practice competition’  July 16. On  July 28, 4 of the 6 will be named to team+ individual, say goodbye to the other 2 and van over to Greenwich—the Olympics.



Earlier, I wrote:

<< appeal  by the Dominican Republic over the qualification of Brazil for an individual representative from South America is still to be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.>>

Yes, even though CAS managed to figure out a way to almost overnight restore to Olympic participation the two suspended Saudi showjumpers (emphasis on both words), Dominican Republic dressage rider Yvonne Losos de Muniz is STILL waiting to hear whether or not she gets a spot to represent her country.

Finally—an answer:The appeal by the Dominican Republic will be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on July 2. That is 30 days before horses go up centerline at Greenwich.

Why so late ,you ask?

Perhaps because the case involved neither Saudi nor show jumper.

Perhaps because this is dressage.

And perhaps because the Dominican Republic, while heartily representing the concept of ‘globalization’ so near and dear to FEI, has not seen fit to underwrite any major FEI programs, such as Nation’s Cup.

Even the IJRC (International Jumper Riders Club) was shocked at the CAS decision:

<<With surprise, the IJRC takes note of CAS’s Sole Arbitrator decisions concerning the cases mentioned, that diverge significantly from previous decisions about similar cases that have had different handling and severe penalties.

We expect that the CAS notifies the reasons for this arbitration award within the same period of time as this decision was taken by the Sole Arbitrator.

Following these decisions, we hope that in the future CAS will make sure to use an equitable and uniform measure, ensuring the principle of equal treatment for all riders.

The Court should act with care and precision especially at a moment like this, when FEI is doing a big effort with the Clean Sport project, that has to be a reference point for the Equestrian World.>>



BUT—and it is a big and most curious ‘but’ — FEI chose to waive its right to a 20 day period in which to draft their own presentation to CAS in the Saudi case (thus allowing a decision to be handed down in the most speedy fashion by a single arbitrator), but they did not do the same for the Dominican one.

Karen Robinson has addressed this entire episode most eloquently in her “Low-Down” column–


Nevertheless, the Olympics shine so brightly and magnificently, all and any imperfections will continue to fade into the background, replaced by a desire to believe once more in the best and the brightest, untouched by anything less than courage, talent, luck and skill.

Bring on August!

FEI! EEG! GCT! and more

13 Jun

HSP June 11 2012

So: Guadalajara won the bidding duel with Las Vegas to hold the 2015 SJ/Dressage WC Finals.
Because, as we all know, the international riders really want to ship their horses to Guadalajara and there is a huge fan base down there to fill the seats. And this will definitely grow interest in equestrian sport in the Americas.

BUT, I’m just betting the FEI coffers will get a huger chunk from this application than it could ever expect from Las Vegas. That was the fight in 2005 and again in 2007.
And we all know what is the most important part of the equation for FEI, right? Right!

The first Uthopia baby in Germany!
Uphoria RR was born June 8
Mare is Balaleika BreitlingxRubinstein; Stallion is Carl Hester’s European Championship partner, the great Uthopia, hopefully soon to be Carl’s Olympic partner in an equally successful adventure. Photos coming soon!

W.E.G? No, E.E.G! And GCT!
2015 Aachen has been awarded the first ever FEI European Equestrian Games in SJ, dressage, driving,vaulting, and reining. As opposed to World Equestrian Games.
Just like European Championships, except that for the first time, FIVE of these championships will be held at one time, in one place.
Eventing will be in England and para and endurance will be…elsewhere.
Why is this happening one wonders?
Well, show jumping is the heart and financial soul of FEI—lucrative sponsor deals,etc. FEI-TV is almost exclusively devoted to jumping; dressage is like the unwanted stepchild sent to sweep out the cellar.
But the biggest PITA for FEI has been GCT (oh, these acronyms!) GCT,Global Champions Tour, was created and brilliantly cultivated by Jan Tops,and these star-studded shows have huge purses and even more glamour, heavy sponsors, and everything else FEI wants.
What to do, what to do. FEI (Princess Haya) has threatened to withhold FEI sanctions from the GCT; has cut in half the value of the points won in its classes for the valuable FEI rankings list; but nothing has really stopped the growth of this rival.
And then– the recent announcement April 30 ,2012 that The Saudi Equestrian Fund has signed a deal with the FEI that will see it fund the FEI Nations Cup series for six years. Prestigious Nations Cup shows such as Spruce Meadows (Alta.) and Aachen (Germany) will have to consider date changes and abandoning their grand prix classes if they wish to stay in the new-look official Nations Cup series announced by the Fédération Equestrian International on May 1 at its sports forum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

So EEG is a plum, handed to Aachen to sweeten the bitter pill that will come in in having to stand in line and bid for a Nation’s Cup Qualifier—without the big Grand Prix class. So long, sponsors. Hello, suckers.

Dorothee Schneider added to Germany A-team. Ulla Salzgeber deleted from A-team.
Salzgeber, I’m guessing is giving a shrug to her ‘deletion’. She will go on riding/training/teaching, and if she finds another Erbe, will wait for the DOKR to beat a path to her door (German Olympic Committee).

Schneider, trainer of an entire string of horses from Bundeschampionat through GP success, has had recent great success with the super mare, Diva Royal as well as the gelding,Forward Looking, with which she just won the CDI4* kur at Lingen.
Applause for a well-deserved nomination: I hope for and expect Schneider to be part of a German team in the near future.


7 Jun



This started out with a shout-out to all the competitors at Gladstone this weekend, wishing them well in their quest for national championships and even a spot on the US Olympic dressage team. And then I realized that one competitor had more on his plate than nearly all the others combined.

First there was the strange piece in the L.A. Times on the even stranger lawsuit brought by an unhappy horse owner against Mrs. Ann Romney and her long-time  trainer Jan Ebeling.   Next, the piece in the N.Y. Times, with much of the same inconsistency and rather one-sided perspective.

Reactions to the pieces seem to be divided into those who are only interested in the politics and those who are only interested in the world of dressage.

The timing of the pieces is such—the U.S. is in the middle of huge political campaigns involving the Romneys  AND the U.S. Olympic dressage trials start this week, and Jan Ebeling is hoping to win a spot on the team– the intent seems pretty clear.


What bothers me:

The headline: “Rareified sport”.

There are many ways to describe equestrian sport, and outsiders nearly always use it to imply other-ness—the white breeches, the nearly incomprehensible etiquette and idioms. . But the perspective of this piece ,while clear from the headline alone, carries on in the same vein.

Sport at a high level always involves lots of hard work, sweat, frustration, mistakes, and repetition.In the case of horse sport, it also involves communicating with a different kind of brain, finding a way to get into sync, producing the effortless harmony we call success.

ALL high level sport is expensive; what makes horse sport such a target is that the horses have to live somewhere,and land—who has it,who does not—is a big divide in the world,. Always has been,always will be.


The description of Jan Ebeling:  “ at ease with the wealthy women drawn to the sport of dressage”

“taskmaster”  “he had a lucky break to get to know the Romneys”


How bitter (let alone woefully under-informed)is the person writing this?

ALL sport requires sponsors. In horse sport, the higher the level of competition, the fewer the equine athletes who can jump the jumps, endure the marathon, or dance in the sandbox of dressage. Every day, there are articles in equestrian magazines,telling riders that not only do they have to be skilled on the back of the horse, they have to develop social skills, the ability to attract sponsors, talk to the media, etc etc. Just like every other Olympic and Olympic-dreaming athlete the world over.


Buried in the article is also the following:

<<(the plaintiff) continued to ride the horse, named Super Hit, for more than a year after the purchase in 2008. >> Ride AND SHOW would have been a more complete sentence. In a sport where a judge can and will ring a horse out of continuing for lameness, this horse continued to show.


And then the attempt to cloud the names of the vet (also sued) and Jan Ebeling:


<< Before writing a check, Ms. Norris sought a standard prepurchase exam. The Ebelings recommended a veterinarian they knew, Dr. Doug Herthel, who identified the joint abnormality on an X-ray. He informed Ms. Norris of it but assured her it would not bar him from the upper-level show ring.


But Dr. Herthel apparently did not mention that a toxicology test reported four tranquilizers in Super Hit’s blood at the time of the exam. His records showed that he injected two of the drugs — to steady Super Hit during X-rays, he testified — but there was no documentation of the other two tranquilizers.>>


Alamo Pintado is one of the most well-known vet hospitals inside and outside California. They are one of the major places to go for a thorough PPE as they have both the technology and the staff to perform as thorough a PPE as may be desired.


Alamo Pintado was founded by Dr. Herthel, and a PPE at the hospital entails a LOT more than himself.

Alamo Pintado is not the vet resource normally used by the Ebelings–precisely one of the reasons that it was used for this PPE.


I simply do not find  questionable  watching the horse for the clinical exam, (longe on hard circle, flexions etc) then having issued a Pass on that part, move on to X-rays, discover the horse fidgets a lot, use tranqs –and then draw blood.

I wish the factoids in the research and the article had been presented to make more of an even-handed reality and not so much a personal bias.

Here is hoping the judging at Gladstone these next two weekends is on fairer ground than the NYT article, and a hearty wish to Jan Ebeling and Rafalca for success.


IDRC news plus a great freestyle!

4 Jun

International Dressage Riders Club and FEI reach  an agreement (finally!)

Both parties have agreed to a three-point plan that will be put into effect immediately:

  • The IDRC will allow both athletes previously removed from membership, Luis Lucio Perez (ESP) and Maria Ines Garcia Cuellar (COL), to be members of the IDRC again without any restrictions;
  • The IDRC and the FEI Legal Department will cooperate in drafting proposed changes to the IDRC Statues that will be presented for adoption at the next IDRC General Assembly;
  • IDRC President, Kyra Kyrklund, will be immediately appointed by the FEI Bureau as the Athletes’ Representative to the FEI Dressage Committee on an interim basis, until such time as a permanent appointment is made.

Kyra Kyrklund (FIN)  now joins the FEI Dresssage  Committee as the new Athletes’ Representative. The Dressage Committee is chaired by Frank Kemperman (NED), and the members are Anne Gribbons (USA), David Hunt (GBR); Elisabet Lundholm (SWE) and Thomas Baur (GER).


With all the talk and attention on the German National Championships this past weekend, other riders from other countries who also have Olympic dreams made their way to other competitions. Austrian rider Vici Max-Theurer, now 26, will represent her country in London for the THIRD time, and maybe this will prove to  be Olympic charm. Her horse, Augustin, was bred by her mom (Olympic rider Sissy Max-Theurer)  started with help from her dad, Hans Max, and the pair work now with Wolfram Wittig.

Vici and Augustin went to Achleiten CDI this past weekend and had a ‘three-peat’: She won the GP and GP kur with Augustin; the small tour with Della Cavalleria.
But wait-there’s more<g>!  Vici also rode her latest partner, Blind Date, to 70+ scores in the GP and GPS. The mare Blind Date was formerly campaigned by Brigitte Wittig, wife of Wolfram. The team that shows together stays together, I guess, because Wolfram rode home-grown Bertoli W to 3rd in the GP,wife Brigitte right behind him on (also home-grown) Brioni W.

Hats off to a top-sport extravaganza.

Here’s a link to Augustin’s  new freestyle,and I think it shows clearly why Vici Max-Theurer has a chance at a podium:


This weekend’s competitions include Fritzens CDI 4*, Lingen CDI 4* and the Dutch National Championships, an Olympic ‘observation event’ — meaning Dutch team coach Sjef Janssen will watch Dutch horses! (Just a joke–he was most recently at Compiegne CDI this past weekend helping Australian Olympic hopeful Kristi Oatley).

We are not too sure if Sjef can walk on water, but another of his students, elite rider Patrik Kittel will be at Lingen this weekend with his Olympic partner, Scandic…so maybe we will find out if Sjef can be in two places at the same time!