In the sweet by-and-by this will be an informative (God grant it!) article about what we mavens of the world of dressage may learn from the veterinary jog that precedes any major dressage competition. That is what I promise for the sweet by-and-by. But first of all I feel the need to divest myself of the story that lies behind the story. Please bear with me, dearest of readers.
I must have been looking too smug or too self-satisfied or too well rested (or perhaps some combination of all of these) when my beloved wife (Ruth) glared at me from across the room and said (I very nearly typed “snapped” which no husband in his right mind would dare type in a public space), “Isn’t it about time you were writing something to contribute to Dressage Daily? After all, we have been here in scenic Kentucky for nearly two full days now and I haven’t seen you do much that an adult would call worthwhile.”
My memorable come back to that cogent question (and thinly veiled accusation) was this, “About what, pray tell, should I write? The first dressage test isn’t scheduled until Monday, the twenty-seventh.” Not to be swayed (a virtue of the fairer sex, I believe) Ruth’s riposte was, “You present yourself as such a clever fellow. Surely you can come up with a topic. It IS possible!” The verbal exclamation point that concluded her sentence took me to the precipice of wifely endurance when I (I thought wittily) replied, “Or course it IS possible. It is also possible to embroider Kleenex . . . but it is hardly worth the doing.”
When I picked myself up off of the floor I began to apply what was left of my wits to the challenge dear Ruth has set for me. Which brings us (“At long last!” I hear from the lips of a despairing reader in the back row) to the promised thoughts concerning the veterinary jog prior to the beginning of this longed for contest. Ruth is certainly correct. It is possible to find a topic when the games on their dressage front are not yet engaged. I turn to the jog.
Leave to the side for the remainder of our rumination the fact that the jog was begun hours before its originally scheduled time. (Brian O’Connor, our erstwhile public voice for major US dressage shows was on his way to catch the second day of reining when the show organizers tracked him down lest the jog go mute.) This humble scribe managed to drag his sorry self up to the jog’s locale (just off of the appropriately named “High Hopes Lane” of the Kentucky Horse Park) so he could observe (and report upon) the last half of the 56 horses and their riders to be observed and approved or dismissed by the FEI ground jury.
Astute readers of Dressage Daily will already have seen Brian Sosby’s (he of the USEF staff) report that the four horses representing the USA passed with flying colors. It is this happy outcome of the day’s lone dressage-related activity that permits me to discharge my promise of something “informative.” The precious few fans who took the time and expended the energy to attend the jog is itself informative. We have, I believe, taken it for granted that ALL horses at this level of our favorite sport are (of course!) without fault or blemish. Always, everywhere, and forevermore.
Try telling that to Brazilian rider Rogerio de Silva Clementino whose horse, Portugal, will require re-inspection by the jury on Monday before it is known whether this mount and his rider will be cleared for participation in these games! Try making the Norwegian rider (Camilla Kalseth) or Swiss rider (Marcela Krinke Susmelj) whose horses were held and then re-inspected before receiving an all clear from the jury believe that there is no room for a slip between the cup and the lip.
These three riders know what it means to have one’s heart in his/her throat. Seen from a higher perspective, the Brazilian contingent’s overnight angst and the shorter-term worry of the teams from Norway and Switzerland are vivid reminders of the tenuousness of all our horse/human relationships. Yes – thanks be to God – Edward Gal and Moorlands Totilas and Steffen Peters and his partner Ravel were among the 53 of 56 horse-rider combinations to pass through the jog examination seamlessly. The two horses who temporarily hung fire and the one who remains in the balance overnight ought make us mindful of the great blessing bestowed upon the other 53.
With all our blessings properly counted and thanks for these having been given, the games which Princess Haya declared open may for dressage fans truly begin.