I know, I know. I promised I would post this ‘Monday at the latest’. Please cut me a little slack. It’s just nuts here in Welly World. More nuts even than usual. I have barely had time to eat, never mind sleep. I got here on Sunday night and it just hasn’t stopped, this Welly madness. I did manage to post yesterday on my Horse Sport International blog, The Low-Down. After you are done here you might want to take a peek at it. I’ve already been warned I might get kicked off the WEF grounds for the blasphemies I committed in my commentary about Tuesday’s municipal election. I do plan on checking out the Global Dressage Festival, which is running a CDI as I write (and unfortunately it’s a wet one out there for the competitors at the moment). I have heard overwhelming and unanimous praise for the facility. The riders LOVE the place, and in my book that is an undeniable two thumbs up for at least that half of the project. As for the commercial side – it seems the more I learn, the less I know about who’s wearing the white hat and who’s wearing black. That probably calls for shades of grey, doesn’t it?
Before I talk about London I would like to talk for a moment about a really very fine event in which I participated as a judge last night: Dressage Under the Stars. It’s a great concept: sell dinner tickets and cocktails to spectators, and once they have wined and dined to their satisfaction, entertain them with three or four fun FEI level freestyles on the polo field. The Wednesday evening series is in its fifth year, and has survived a location change, brought about by the afore-mentioned WAR over the development of the land now occupied by the Global Dressage Festival. I would point out the irony of dressage-on-dressage fighting if it weren’t (sadly) as common as bedbugs in New York City hotel rooms. Dressage Under the Stars used to take place at the Player’s Club, or more accurately, the polo field immediately beyond Player’s outdoor patio. The polo field is part of the property on which the GDF was built. Player’s owner Neil Hirsch found himself in the crossfire with the new development; I wouldn’t dare to try and explain the how, what or why because I am not well informed at all about it, but the end result is that the polo field is now off limits to things like Dressage Under the Stars. This story gets better – actually worse is probably more what I mean. Last week, or thereabouts, a lovely bunch of coconut trees (well palms, anyway) of varying heights but considerable bushiness was planted along the edge of the polo field. It makes for a nice windbreak on the Player’s patio and gives the place a feel of tropical intimacy. It also completely blocks the view from Player’s to the new dressage show and to the field that is used occasionally for derbies. In the past Player’s patrons could enjoy a free peek at what was going on, which as far as I know didn’t do anyone any harm.
Hm. I seem to have strayed from my story. Back to Dressage Under the Stars. The event is the brain baby of a fellow named Steve Williams, who had to go hunting for a new location when Florida’s version of the Balkan conflict reached Player’s placid shores. Last night’s fun was had at what is known now as Polo West. I judged it once last year at Player’s and the lesson I learned the hard way (my two co-judges clearly overestimated the audience’s level of interest in dressage minutiae and level of sobriety) was that this event is meant to be all about fun, and it’s meant to move at a good clip with only brief outbursts of enthusiasm from the judges, rather than dissertations on throughness. My co-judges last night were FEI rider and judge Bill McMullin and Margaret Duprey, who recently became a two-discipline sponsor when she bought Cedric, Laura Kraut’s Olympic horse. Margaret already owns Otto, ridden at WEG and very possibly London by dressage rider Todd Flettrich. Oh to have wonderful people like Margaret in Canada….I hadn’t met her before but it didn’t take me long to put her on my list of people I’d like to hang out with. First of all, she eats BEEF. She even raises it in the form of Angus cattle at her Cherry Knoll Farm. I think she might approve of the bumper sticker I nearly bought in a blink-and-it’s-gone town in central Oregon a couple of years ago:
My word, I’m getting sidetracked again. That’s what the relentless social schedule and lack of sleep can do to the focus of even a seasoned Welly World visitor like me. So Margaret, Bill and I watched three costumed riders perform three really fun themed freestyles. And while we gave out the nines to the first two, the third was so good it compelled me (and then Margaret, that copycat) to break with scoring tradition and give scores higher than ten. Danish expat and longtime Welly World dressage trainer Bent Jensen was THE BOMB in his LMFAO costume (if you squinted a little, he looked just like Redfoo). He was on a lovely, lovely bay gelding (I asked afterwards if he was for sale and got a definitive ‘no’) that had a very good passage and seemed capable of doing one tempis for days. Bent passaged around to ‘I’m Sexy and I Know It’ and every time the ‘wiggle wiggle wiggle’ part came on he halted and wiggle-wiggled in the saddle. It was the best bit of dressage awesomeness I have seen in quite a long time. If anyone has a video of Bent’s ride, please get in touch so I can persuade you to share it with everyone on this blog.
There was a pretty good turnout of spectators who were treated to Bent’s outrageously good LMFAO tribute, and I spoke to one or two people who are quite excited that they will get their moment ‘under the stars’ in the coming weeks. It’s an excellent opportunity to do something a bit different with your horse while exposing him or her to an atmosphere that is rather more electric than the empty stands and pin-dropping silence of most dressage shows. Sadly, if Steve doesn’t get some more substantial support, Dressage Under the Stars is in danger of disappearing. Let’s go DQs. Get behind this, please! Let’s not allow another great idea for promoting dressage to fall by the wayside for no better reason that no one gave enough of a rip to lend a hand or some sponsorship dollars.
You know what? I am going to take a little break before I talk about the 41 nations qualified for London, so I’ll just go ahead and post what I’ve rambled about so far and post again a little later on. Yes, that’s a promise.
Everyone gets a ‘wiggle’ on