I can’t stay away. Just when my travel schedule was calming down so that I could spend a bit more time riding my horse, walking my wiener (dog) and messing about in the garden, the final observation trial for the Canadian and US Eventing Olympic Teams beckoned irresistibly. So I will head east to La Belle Province this week. The location is definitely part of the draw. Just look at the photo on Bromont’s website to get an idea of the beauty spot I’m going to be visiting while watching some of the continent’s finest Eventers and their steeds gallop over hill and dale in hot pursuit of their Olympic tickets. Bromont is in a region of Quebec called the Eastern Townships. I’m familiar with the charms of this wonderful little corner of the world, but I have never actually been to the venue at Bromont – though I have vivid memories of it visiting my living room via CBC TV (the only channel we got back then) during the 1976 Montreal Olympics, when I was a wee lass of ten years. Yes, I am very excited about going to Bromont, and you can expect to be treated to my experiences right here on this blog over the coming week.
Since I’m already talking about Eventing and the Olympics, here is an interesting story that my Google Alerts picked up for me tomorrow. No, that’s not a typo. I really do mean ‘tomorrow’. The article is from a newspaper in NZ, where it is already Monday. But that’s not why I’m sharing it. What I find interesting in the article is that it reveals the Kiwi government has injected $1.25 million dollars to its equestrian team’s Olympic medal hopes. Of course those are NZ dollars, which are worth only about 78 Canuck cents, and it’s not clear if that money is all going to the Eventers, since NZ has also qualified a dressage team and two individual Para spots for London. But it’s a stunning bit of news all the same. You see, the population of NZ is less than 4.5 million people (and yes, they really do have 43 million sheep. I’ve seen them). The Kiwis are supporting their equestrians in London roughly six times more generously than Canada is. It’s as if the Canadian government had given 10 million to our equestrians, instead of the 1.5 million in Own the Podium funding that was spread across all three Olympic equestrian disciplines AND Para this year. I thought that was a lot of support until I saw what the Kiwis came up with.
Something else Canada apparently doesn’t support adequately is its artists. EC recently announced the unveiling of a Hickstead tribute poster, which can be ordered not from EC itself (which has embraced its inner outsourcer), but from a company called CanadianRider.ca, which already sells art by Fred Stone, an American painter who specializes in race horses. Yes, that ‘s right – American. Just like Mary Sand, the artist who was commissioned to immortalize Hickstead in bronze last winter. I wonder if EC put these commissions out to public tender or considered Canadian artists? If so, they did it awfully quietly. I never heard about either project until fait accompletion. And someone forgot to tell Fred about our militant helmet rules in Canada, since the photo he chose to copy in one of the two images on the painting shows Eric bare headed. I’m not saying I personally object to that – I still think this whole knee-jerk helmet crusade reeks of paternalism – but if EC paid for the portrait, maybe they should have told Fred to paint a brain bowl on Eric’s head.
In other Canadian news, I would like to answer the question posted by yet another gutless anonymous commenter on my post of two weeks ago in regard to the citizenship status of our newest Canadian Dressage star, David Marcus. I’m pleased to announce that David has done his homework and has the all-clear from the relevant authorities to fill the Olympic team spot he has so impressively earned with Chevri’s Capital. That should set your mind at ease, ‘Curious’. I can tell by the tone of your question that you were concerned only for the best possible outcome for Canada’s Dressage team in London and for David himself.