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Friday, July 20, 2007

He’s A Maniac!

Today is my first day traveling to the site alone. I left Jan snoring happily at the apartment – no need to make him come out and photograph eventing dressage. A tremendously fat bus driver took me on my scariest ride so far. He wasn’t too bad on the straightaways, but he rally drove the curves, crossing three lanes in the process. At one point we came so close to squashing a car that I still can’t believe we didn’t make contact. The Maniac song from Flashdance kept playing in my head. I can’t decide if it’s better to look so I can brace for the crash, or gaze out the side windows and pretend I’m on a train instead of a bus.

So what is with eventers riding around doing flat work on warm up day with hunt caps on? It’s many years since anyone seriously considered an unfastened helmet to be any protection at all, so it must be a fad. If any eventers are reading this and can enlighten me, please feel free to do so.

I forgot to tell you about the judging booths. Each day they are more complete than the day before. They are made of the kind of particle board that looks like shavings glued together. The first day they weren’t painted at all; then the roofs were painted white; finally today for the eventers they are completely white. Of course it can’t touch the hay bales at our dressage selection trials for spectacular insufficiency, but it’s been fun watching the progress through the week.

I thought I was done with Mariette but there is one more thing that has made itself evident today at eventing dressage that I’d like to share. The score board is showing marks movement by movement, judge by judge. But they weren’t during the dressage, only the running total that takes a mathematician to figure out. It’s reminiscent of Athens, when the dressage and eventing dressage overlapped. Movement by movement scoring happened for eventing dressage only. In Athens I asked Mariette why there wasn’t movement by movement scoring for dressage, and she replied that it wasn’t available. When I pointed out to her that the eventers were using it her eyes glazed over and she said nothing. Too bad she’s not still here. I’d ask again.

These eventing dressage judges are making the DQ judges look like saints – though of course being able to see the individual scores makes a difference. The Australian judge Barry Roycroft gave Waylon Roberts a 2 for his counter canter and a 6 for the flying change. Waylon did a nice counter canter but completely flubbed the change, cantering a few disunited strides before the horse trotted behind and changed. Jo Young from Canada gave American Gina Miles a 4 for an extended canter that got her an 8 from another judge (I think the third judge was a 6). What on earth did she see go wrong? It was a really good extended canter. Either these guys are wearing the wrong glasses today or the automatic scoring is being Brazilian.

They won’t let us walk the course today. We’ll have to just run around it tomorrow morning before cross country starts. I hear that the course is a good solid three star. I was feeling apprehensive about watching because of a suspicion that some of the Latin riders don’t have the mileage. But I interviewed the Jamaican rider Samantha Albert, and she assured me that the South American horses really know how to jump. In my efforts to interview Samantha in a cooler place than the blazing sunshine of the mixed zone I tried to take her back to the press area with me. The security guy wouldn’t let her, a rider, into my area.

Eventing dressage will wrap up soon, with the US firmly out front. And I mean firmly.

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