Now that it’s December First I think I can safely send my Christmas wish list to the North Pole and know that it will be taken care of. OK, I don’t believe in Santa. I don’t actually believe in much if I haven’t seen, touched or tasted it; like Richard Dawkins, I’m a hopeless empiricist. But I do believe in the therapeutic effect of fantasizing, so here is my brief list of things I wish Santa would do for the horse world if he existed:
1. Give Totilas back to Edward. Sorry, but I just can’t shut up about it. I read Astrid’s coverage on Eurodressage (great scoop Astrid – you’re the bomb!) and I even made myself watch a video of Matthias’ ride of glory that went up on youtube and hadn’t yet been yanked down at 10 this morning. I admit I was curious to see what Totilas looked like with Matthias in the saddle. Considering the partnership was only six rides old when the video was taken on Tuesday, I have to admit there was nothing on which to hang any legitimate criticism. The horse looked happy enough and thankfully Matthias didn’t do any of that weird squirming he does, or rather did, when he used be able to get Sterntaler to piaffe. But it still makes my heart sink. My heart sank still lower when I thought about what it will be like for Edward when he goes to a show and has to ride in the same warm up with his former four legged piece of heaven being ridden by someone else. What still sticks in my craw more than anything though is the way the Germans are so unashamed (smug even) about launching their counter-attack against the Dutch world champions by buying their best horse. (Remember Nellie from Little House on the Prairie? That’s what it reminds me of.) I can’t find the quote just now, but someone made a seriously flawed argument that the Dutch had bought plenty of good German horses in the past. Sure, but they didn’t buy them already made into world champions, did they? Anyway, I don’t think Santa could make this one come true even if he did exist. But it’s still my number one equine Christmas wish.
2. Resurrect the World Dressage Masters in Welly World. My whole trip to Florida was scheduled around attending the WDM – well not entirely. Equestrian Idol is the same weekend and I wouldn’t miss that for anything. Today I received a press release that announced the WDM in FL is cancelled “due to scheduling conflicts”. Whatever. I smelled a rat already last week when someone asked me about the date. The WDM site had it listed in February but the FEI site had it taking place in March. I don’t buy that scheduling excuse for a minute. The only difference in the FEI calendar in 2011 compared to 2010 is the addition of Dortmund the week after. These days there are enough top riders with two or more horses at Grand Prix, and Dortmund isn’t a WC qualifier. I’d bet someone didn’t make enough money on the event last year – either the host or WDM or both. I know people who have already bought plane tickets and booked hotels in expectation of attending the WDM. Apparently no one is particularly worried about alienating North American dressage fans. Those who are already committed to nonrefundable trips can of course take in other events at WEF, but somehow I doubt the Nespresso Battle of the Sexes will suffice as replacement entertainment for the freestyle. Oh well, you can always down a bottle of VC at the Player’s Club and watch the Latino polo players try to pick up skinny blonde rich girls. I don’t recommend eating dinner there, though.
3. Clone John from Eventing Nation. If you haven’t yet discovered Eventing Nation, hie thee thither, post-haste. It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t care less about eventing and don’t know your William Fox-Pitts from your coffin complexes. John and his entertaining website are incontrovertible evidence that collectively, the eventing ‘nation’ is a hell of a lot more fun than DQ ‘land’. I’d venture to say that the Jumper ‘world’ rivals the eventers for overall fun score, but the eventers practice a cleaner brand of fun – at least for the most part. I am of the opinion that there can never be too much laughter in a day. John always gets a chuckle out of me, and today I even LOLed when he reported this little news item he’d dredged up:
“In the category of “idiot news,” a Texas man was arrested on Sunday for kicking a horse in the hind quarters. I know you will be shocked to hear that the incident occurred outside of a Houston Texans NFL game on Sunday. What do you want to bet that alcohol was involved? Remember Eventing Nation, don’t drink and kick police horses. If the horse had just kicked back we would have one less idiot on the planet; sadly, now we just have one more idiot in jail.” Keep the humour coming John. Love you and wish Santa would bring more like you to the horse world.
4. Make the FEI allow Para dressage horses to have a bit of bute. Just a bit. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks this way, but I see the addition of Para dressage to the FEI’s growing stable as a double edged sword, particularly when it comes to NSAIDs. In case you aren’t very familiar with the discipline, allow me to explain a couple of pertinent facts. Horses from Grade I to Grade II perform tests at walk and trot only. Grade Ia horses only walk. Even Grade IV, the highest level, is equivalent to only Third Level. Safety is an enormous factor when it comes to matching riders with a wide range of disabilities – from no arms to sight impairment – with horses that will be competitive but that also won’t imperil their riders. Of course, one of the best sources of horses for Para is the pool of aging competition horses that have seen enough to be bomb proof and are trained enough to do the job well. Let’s be realistic here. All but the most Jennie Loriston-Clarke of us have had a positive experience with the maintenance of a horse with a chronic condition that was treated with a minimal dose of anti-inflammatories. A Para dressage horse that gets a gram of bute now and then in order to comfortably perform ten meter circles and a bit of lengthening is not a welfare concern in the way that a Grand Prix jumper would be. The FEI is built on a lot of all-or-nothing principles, which is all very high road but it does leave a few victims in the ditch.
5. Load the presidents and executive directors of the AB, SK, QC, NS, PEI and NF federations onto your sleigh and take them back to the North Pole with you. Maybe you can dress them in elf outfits, chain them to posts in the snow and have them guard your Toy Factory. At least then they’d be doing something useful. And they’d be out of our hair.
6. Drop an envelope containing a cheque for a million dollars down my chimney – oops, that’s for my private Santa letter.
Oh and one more fantasy wish for Santa. Maybe it’s not a fantasy. This could be the one wish that will be fulfilled. Please bring back the Carroteers. Carrot where are you with your pithy wit and your inside the belly of the beast insight? I promise I won’t send you any more emails demanding to know who you are. I just want you back in my life. It would be the best Christmas ever if you went back to your blogging ways…