I think I might finally be getting somewhere near the middle of the teeter totter. Yesterday I was received with both grace and openness by Michael Stone and Mark Bellissimo at the WEF grounds, where I was taken on a tour by golf cart and then car of the WEF and Global Dressage Festival venues with Michael – including special stops at places of former and current controversy. I decided that my first up-close-and-personal encounter with the WEP folks (since this ‘situation’ came to pass) should be informal and off the record, so I took no notes or photos. But fear not: I will be conducting a formal interview tomorrow, the results of which will be published in issue #1, 2013, of Horse Sport International.
There is one feature of my visit to WEF and Equestrian Village that stood out for me yesterday: that both men were more than willing to entertain whatever questions I chose to lob their way, in spite of the fact that I have been somewhat less than laudatory at times when it comes to their side of the 18 inch white fence. Oh yes, I can already hear the chairs scraping back as members of a certain faction grab their hair and roll their eyes skyward. But let’s get real here. The truth of the matter lies somewhere between the two extreme positions. My parents divorced when I was 12, at that tender age when children have not yet learned to question their parents. It was years before I realized, after a few heart-to-hearts with each of my parents, that neither of them was entirely right or wrong, and that both of them had imperfect memories when it came to pivotal events. Why would the situation with Jacobs vs. WEP be any different?
Today I attended the press conference that marked the official opening of the Global Dressage Festival season. Rather than tap away on my lap top, I opted for the lazy route, and just pressed ‘record’ on the voice recorder app of my iPhone. It took me rather too long to figure it out, but I have finally got the damned thing uploaded to YouTube so that I can share it with you. In case you are short of time, or impatient, or both, here is the order of events on the recording:
Mark B. – talking about what it’s taken to get to today, including acknowledgement that it’s been a struggle, given all the opposition
Michael S. – talking about the new Pan Am formula that will be tested at the CDIO
David Marcus – talking about what this venue and its competitions mean to a rider like himself
Devon Kane – ditto, with a bit more about how important a truly international venue is to North Americans with aspirations for international success
Ken Braddick from Dressage Fox News – a predictably provoking question about how the controversy has negatively affected the dressage shows to be held this season
Mark B. – responding
Johnny Robb – asking how the dressage community can help with regard to all the opposition
Mark B. – responding
As you can see, there are quite a few sound bites worth hearing, so I recommend giving the 18 minutes a thorough listen.