Grab a box of tissues and clutch your favourite teddy bear to your breaking hearts, ladies. The equestrian world’s most eligible bachelor is off the market. Yes, it’s official. Eric got down on bended knee and proposed to his girlfriend Alexis Stein. If you don’t believe me, you can read the official press release, which I must say is the strangest press release I’ve received in a long time, for the sole reason that the horsing universe tends to focus on news of a less personal nature than what you might find in the pages of Hello! The fact that there was a public need for an announcement of this engagement is incontrovertible proof that Eric is one of the very few equestrian athletes in the world who has movie star status well beyond the range of most merely mortal Olympic champions.

As you know, my intimacy with the show jumping world is limited. Since Carley Sparks at getmyFix has done a remarkable job of sniffing out extensive details about Eric’s Chosen One (and yes, Carley, you do stray a little bit into stalker territory – but only a little), I will send any of you who are curious about this wonderful and devastating news toward Carley’s entertaining and informative post.  My favourite detail is that the sole witness to the proposal was the couple’s Pomeranian, Gigi.

Shifting continents and disciplines, I’m currently installed at my favourite bungalow in southern Holland, excitedly awaiting the start of the 2013 GDF on Monday. I’m already feeling a bit wistful about my trip this year, because it’s likely to be the last time in a while that the GDF is held here. I’ve attended  seven of the past eight GDFs; the ‘hood in this sweet little corner of the Brabant that smells faintly but charmingly of bovine poop has come to feel like a home away from home. I have a favourite super market (the Carrefour just over the Belgian border in Turnhout), a must-visit tackshop (Emmers in Hamont, BE) a few familiar walks, and I finally don’t get lost driving back from the GDF in the dark on the small, labyrinthine roads. I am excited for future adventures attending the GDF at other locations, but if I had my way the event would come back to the Academy Bartels at least every three or four years.

Since the GDF is an international gig with mostly non-Canadian content, I’ll be blogging over on my sister blog, Low-Down, this coming week, and I do hope you don’t find the single click to get over there too much of an inconvenience. But before I go, I feel compelled to comment on the letter that Trond Asmyr wrote to me on Eurodressage this week in response to my post ‘The Punitive Games’, which Astrid at Eurodressage posted on her site last week. You think I’m being grandiose by claiming the letter was written to me personally? Well, its title is “FEI Response to Karen Robinson” so not only can I blush with pleasure that the Trondster actually read what I wrote, but I can also take pride in the fact that once again I managed to get the FEI to clarify something by getting under its tough, leathery skin.

First of all, I must do that thing that we all cringe to do, but which being human, we find ourselves compelled to do from time to time: apologize. Trond, I am sorry that I was mistaken about the reallocation of a team spot should Brazil fail to qualify next year. The problem was a matter of simply not finding that little gem of information, since the clause was moved in the FEI GA annex  compared with where it appeared in the Sports Forum document back in the spring. In the Sports Forum doc, the sentence about the spot going to the Pan Am team next in line appeared in accompaniment to the info that Brazil automatically qualifies as host nation. In the FEI annex, some genius (for all three disciplines, I should add for clarity’s sake) decided to move that sentence not just to a separate place in the annex, but all the way to the end, AFTER the section on individual qualifications. Not only that, but the addition of the note about individuals in place of a team from the host nation in the annex REPLACED the other sentence from the Sports Forum doc. So Trond, I guess my apology is a  bit lopsided, along the lines of Kevin Kline apologizing to John Cleese after hitting him over the head with an antique bed warmer.

The guarantee that individual spots will remain in the region is good news indeed. Wouldn’t it have been nice if the FEI DC had bothered to proactively share this information with the international dressage community? The striking of the fourth WEG team qualification in favour of individual qualifications from the Pan Ams is dubiously advantageous – actually it’s really not advantageous at all, since at best it will result in Canada having a ‘composite’ team of three instead of a ‘real’ team of four. Honestly, we’d still rather have the second team Pan Am qualification thank you very much – and will you please stop going on about ‘rebalancing’ the numbers of teams from the Americas while utterly failing to explain why this wasn’t done in London for Europe (or perhaps the FEI thinks of the UK as ‘separate and distinct to Europe, kind of like Quebec in Canada)?

Dear Trond, if your reply on Eurodressage was an attempt to shut me up when you step up to the podium at the GDF on Monday, your efforts are admirable – the information you shared was actually useful (!), and I’m sure the dressage universe is grateful that the detailed qualification information is being shared with them, even if it did come out only through my goading. But I’m afraid your statement just leaves me with more questions. See you Monday!