There is quite a lot going on considering it’s the dog days of summer (what does that mean, anyway?). Of course that little horse show in Kentucky this fall jut might have something to do with it, but here are a few things you might not have known or noticed:

Shannon Dueck is training with Wolfram Wittig. Yes, the one and only WW, trainer of Isabell. Shannon moved there a few days ago, and has already deemed the training she has received to be ‘superb’. Her plans are to see how Ayscha fares in a CDI next month in Europe and take it from there with her wonderful young mare.

Beth Underhill has lost the ride on her potential WEG mount, Top Gun. His owner has decided to sell the horse and has taken him from Beth, who has had some pretty impressive success with him over the past two years since she started riding him. The news came out of nowhere to Beth, who had been gunning (pun fully intended) for a WEG team spot. You know how I love irony, but this is too much even for me: Top Gun’s owners were named the 2009 Jump Canada  Owner of the Year. It’s kind of tough to keep winning medals if we lose our best horses. The chances of Top Gun staying in Canadian ownership are pretty slim when you look at the steady southward trickle of Canadian horses sold to the US over the years. Here’s a link to the press release:

http://www.horse-canada.com/?p=3765/

I think this might be my final word on Michael Morrissey, but who knows? The FEI finally handed down its penalty a couple of weeks ago. Unlike the USEF who have a ‘good news only’ press release policy, the FEI proactively delivered the news to everyone on their distribution list. MM was given no more than a three month ban, which happens to coincide with the dates of his USEF ban. Practically speaking, that is no penalty at all, since he wouldn’t have been allowed on the grounds of an FEI show in the US anyway due to the US ban. He was required to part with 2000 Swiss Francs as well. I think they probably decided he had suffered enough already, and I tend to agree. Where I STRONGLY disagree with HQ is for their decision regarding the ground jury. “An investigation into the role of the Ground Jury in this incident showed that Mr Morrissey should have been disqualified at the time. Letters of reprimand have been sent to all members of the Ground Jury.” That’s it? Letters of reprimand? What did those letters say? Naughty naughty boys? Come ON. You know what really sticks in my craw besides the failure to make those men pay a real price for their very real errant ways? They weren’t even named in the press release.  Could someone please go over to Lausanne and stitch some balls on these people? For the sake of the horses, please!

Here is the link to the full decision. The ground jury is not named there either, but the name of a certain Very Important Steward in relation to this sorry tale is mentioned in the narrative. Why the manager of the competition would think it’s his place to give MM a talking-to (when the ground jury is solely responsible for what happens in the competition ring) is a complete mystery to me.

http://www.fei.org/sites/default/files/Final%20Decision%209%20July%202010_1.pdf

Here is one final item of interest before I head off the grid for a couple of weeks. I wanted to see Isabell’s new freestyle which she debuted in Aachen. I am not sure what I think because on the one hand the music really suits the way the horse moves, but on the other I can’t stand all that ‘lai-lai-laiing’ that pervades the soundtrack from start to finish. While I was observing that Isabell was a wee bit ahead of her music going into an extended canter at the end of the canter tour, I noticed that she was turning an awful lot of times in her final (and third) pirouette. I discovered a tragic flaw in ClipMyHorse when I went to watch it again. You can’t track forward and back within a ride, so I had to watch the whole thing again just to count the revolutions in that pirouette. I turned the sound off (Lai-lai no more) and waited for the pirouette. Well, you know what? Isabell made 2.5 revolutions in that last pirouette. I am sure she knows the rules, and I would bet dollars to donuts she did it only because she was ahead of her music. You know what else? Not ONE of the seven judges gave her the zero she should have received for the left pirouette. Here is what the FEI freestyle guidelines say: “More than double pirouettes in canter (i.e. two pirouettes of more than 360 degrees each, in one continuous movement). Final mark for pirouettes 0.” The text goes on to say that if the more than double pirouette is shown only in one direction, then the zero applies to the pirouette only in that direction. The pirouettes are a coefficient movement in the GP freestyle, so a zero for one of them would have taken Satchmo well out of the top placings. The over-rotated pirouette was a left one. Here are the marks received for left pirouette: 8,8,9,9,9,9,9. If any of the following people would care to comment on their lack of applying the rule in this case – did anyone even NOTICE the 2.5 pirouette? – I would welcome a few words from you at the bottom of this post:

Dr. Dieter Schüle (GER)

Jean-Michel Roudier (FRA)

Leif Törnblad (DEN)

Gary Rockwell (USA)

Andrew Gardner (GBR)

Wim Ernes (NED)

Susie Hoevenaars (AUS) 

I would love to hear from someone who was on the Supervisory Panel too if they cared to share their thoughts, since presumably that is one of the reasons they are there – to catch mistakes. I actually thought there wasn’t a Supervisory Panel in Aachen, because Laura’s wrong lead strike off for canter in the GP received an 8 from Roudier and the score stood that way on the website for more than 24 hours. I just checked it again though, and now it’s been corrected to a 4 and her overall score has dropped to 77.295 from 77.447. What’s the time limit on this thing anyway? What would have happened if the changed score had an impact on a medal? Would they retroactively take away and redistribute them a day or two after the fact? And why didn’t the SP correct Gary’s 7 for Satchmo’s ones in the freestyle, which had a mistake? They also didn’t correct Tornblad’s 4 for the ones in Satchmo’s GPS (all the other judges gave 7). Did they decide that the two canceled each other out even though they were in different tests? Methinks there are some kinks in this new idea, which sounds good on paper but is looking a little rude in practice.

Ok, enough wasting sunshine hours sitting in front of a monitor. Get out there and enjoy the weather! I’ll be back in two weeks.