An unscripted glimpse at the Canadian Equestrian Team's athletes, supporters & fans before, during and after major games. #CanadaStrong

Archive for August, 2008

Thrills and Spills…..Showjumping Day 2

It was day 2 today for the showjumpers with the first of 2 nights which will determine the team medals. Today was also the day that Equine Canada president Al Patterson flew in from Toronto to take in the activities over the next couple of days. Al made it to the Regal Riverside hotel ok and I sent up his luggage of team clothing. Then we met up later in the lobby to take a taxi to the venue (Al’s accreditation doesn’t kick in until tomorrow, so he was ‘regular people’ today with a ticket to catch tonight’s showjumping). It’s only a 5 min. taxi ride to the venue, but it took about 15 mins to find a taxi drive who knew where to go. I think it was likely more a case that the drivers weren’t intersted in taking a fare that wouldn’t make them much money. But at last we made it and joined the crowds who were making their way to the main spectator entrance.

The course was another stunner, designed by Steve Stephens and Leopoldo Palacios. The fences were huge, wide and with technically challenging lines. Out of 71 combinations, only 5 went clear.

Jamal Ramihov of Azerbaijan ran into trouble at the second last fence. It looked like his horse misjudged the width of the massive oxer and started to paddle. The rider went airborne and was caught up in the horse's legs. Horse was ok.

Jamal Ramihov of Azerbaijan ran into trouble at the second last fence. It looked like his horse misjudged the width of the massive oxer and started to paddle. The rider went airborne and was caught up in the horse

The rider lay motionless for what seemed forever (probably about 5 minutes) before finally getting up and being helped to the ambulance. The announcer provided updates throughout the rest of the competition and last I heard he was checked out at the hospital with injuries to his hand.

The rider lay motionless for what seemed forever (probably about 5 minutes) before finally getting up and being helped to the ambulance. The announcer provided updates throughout the rest of the competition and last I heard he was checked out at the hospital with injuries to his hand.

Belgium rider Jos Lansik and Cumano - hot favourites for a gold medal. They are currently sitting on just 1 fault after 2 rounds.

Belgium rider Jos Lansik and Cumano - hot favourites for a gold medal. They are currently sitting on just 1 fault after 2 rounds.

Japanese rider Taizo Sugitani and California

Japanese rider Taizo Sugitani and California

Rodrigo Pessoa does some pre-ride analysis, checking out some rounds before he had his go. He was one of the 5 clear rounds tonight so is sitting with 1 fault.

Rodrigo Pessoa does some pre-ride analysis, checking out some rounds before he had his go. He was one of the 5 clear rounds tonight so is sitting with 1 fault.

Ian Millar was also scoping out the competition, watching some rounds to see how the course was riding. Ian and In Style put in another great performance and only had 1 rail (the massively wide oxer)

Ian Millar was also scoping out the competition, watching some rounds to see how the course was riding. Ian and In Style put in another great performance and only had 1 rail (the massively wide oxer)

Mexico watches their rider on course.

Mexico watches their rider on course.

Mac Cone and Ole were the first Canadians on course and had an unfortunate 12 faults.

Mac Cone and Ole were the first Canadians on course and had an unfortunate 12 faults.

One of the unexpected events that happened tonight was this horse who didn't want to even go into the ring! He kept rearing and spinning. Believe it or not, his rider managed to finally get him on course.

One of the unexpected events that happened tonight was this horse who didn't want to even go into the ring! He kept rearing and spinning. Believe it or not, his rider managed to finally get him on course.

waiting for their turn......

waiting for their turn......

the stands remained packed until pretty much the end of the class.

the stands remained packed until pretty much the end of the class.

I'm pretty sure these 2 guys were bodyguards for the Saudi prince who was sitting in my section.

I'm pretty sure these 2 guys were bodyguards for the Saudi prince who was sitting in my section.

Nick Skelton and Russell of Great Britain incurred 8 faults. The big development later that evening was the surprise withdrawal of Michael Whitaker and Peppermill.....no word on what the story is there.

Nick Skelton and Russell of Great Britain incurred 8 faults. The big development later that evening was the surprise withdrawal of Michael Whitaker and Peppermill.....no word on what the story is there.

Team Brazil anxiously watch Pedro Veniss and Blanc de Blancs........

Team Brazil anxiously watch Pedro Veniss and Blanc de Blancs........

....although they looked great, they met their fate at the 2nd last fence (the massive oxer) where the horse fell.

....although they looked great, they met their fate at the 2nd last fence (the massive oxer) where the horse fell.

The Canadian section!

The Canadian section!

Back up on the podium, this time watching jumping dynamos Eric Lamaze and Hickstead

Back up on the podium, this time watching jumping dynamos Eric Lamaze and Hickstead

Eric and Hickstead didn't disappoint, posting one of only 2 double clear rounds (the other achieved by McLain Ward and Sapphire of the USA)

Eric and Hickstead didn't disappoint, posting one of only 2 double clear rounds (the other achieved by McLain Ward and Sapphire of the USA)

leaving the ring after a job well done

leaving the ring after a job well done

Look Mom - I'm on tv!

Look Mom - I'm on tv! A shot of me with my Canuck tattoos during the Grand Prix Speciale....now the big question is, do I wear the pyjama pants and tattoos again for the Freestyle?

All in all it was a great night of exciting showjumping. Drama, excitement, a clear round for Canada and we’re now sitting pretty in 4th place – totally within striking distance of a medal. The team event wraps up tomorrow night so everyone keep their fingers crossed!

1. Switzerland – 12
1. USA – 12
3. Sweden – 13
4. Great Britain – 16
4. Canada – 16
6. Netherlands – 17
6. Norway – 17
8. Germany – 20

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Party at the hotel!

There was a big party at the hotel I’m staying at the night of the German Team gold in dressage. There were actually 2 separate parties…..a German and a Dutch, but it didn’t take long for those to meld into one big lovefest. Here’s a fun video that I came across on Youtube. At the forefront are Isabell Werth, Heike Kemmer and Hinrich Romeike (double gold medalist from Eventing). In the background you can see Imke Schelleken-Bartles.

Ashley Holzer Makes History!

Yep, you heard it right. Ashley made history tonight by becoming the first Canadian dressage rider to make it into the Grand Prix Freestyle…..the top 15! It was a real nail-biter of a night and I can honestly say I haven’t seen dressage this exciting my entire life. In honour of tonight’s exciting showdown and to show my Canadian spirit, I wore the infamous pyjama pants complete with tattoos on my cheeks (face that is!)

The setting was perfect for a great night of competition. The evening was cool with a nice breeze and a full moon. Perfect. The first surprise of the evening was a last minute withdrawal of Imke Schenkel-Bartles and Sunrise. They were replaced by Australia’s Hayley Beresford and Relampago. The beautiful black Lusitano stallion had the biggest neck I’ve ever seen but boy was he elastic! His passage was incredibly impressive and his legs stretched sideways forever in sweeping half-passes. Lovely.

Yes...I wore the pyjama pants! (l-r) Mary Brooks (Jacquie's mom), me and Anne Welch (co-owner of Gran Gesto

Yes...I wore the pyjama pants! (l-r) Mary Brooks (Jacquies mom), me and Anne Welch (co-owner of Gran Gesto)

the infamous cartoon horse! the bain of many a rider and horse

the infamous cartoon horse! the bane of many a rider and horse

the judges take their positions

the judges take their positions

....and the media take their positions

....and the media take their positions

Great Britain watches Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris ride to a 67.160%

Great Britain watches Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris ride to a 67.160%

a full moon rising over the international flags

a full moon rising over the international flags

(l-r) Marriette Whithages, the Infanta and Princess Benedickte

(l-r) Marriette Whithages, the Infanta and Princess Benedickte

check out those lenses!

check out those lenses!

Spanish rider Juan Manuel Munoz and Fuego XII rode to a 16th place on 68.160%

Spanish rider Juan Manuel Munoz and Fuego XII rode to a 16th place on 68.160%

Ashley and Pop Art had a running total in the 70's for much of their ride

Ashley and Pop Art had a running total in the 70's for much of their ride

the look of sheer determination.....

the look of sheer determination.....

Dutch riders Hans Peter Minderhoud and Edward Gal look on

Dutch riders Hans Peter Minderhoud and Edward Gal look on

USA rider Steffen Peters and Ravel put in a gorgeous test and earned 71.80%. This pair were a real treat to watch and Ravel was one of the most elastic and flowing horses there.

USA rider Steffen Peters and Ravel put in a gorgeous test and earned 71.80%. This pair were a real treat to watch and Ravel was one of the most elastic and flowing horses there.

Sjef Janssen watches from the podium as Anky and Salinero take the stage.

Sjef Janssen watches from the podium as Anky and Salinero take the stage.

Salinero did not seem to have the same elasticity and flow as Ravel or Satchmo....and unfortunately broke twice in the second trot half-pass

Salinero did not seem to have the same elasticity and flow as Ravel or Satchmo....and unfortunately broke twice in the second trot half-pass

British rider Emma Hindle put in a solid performance on Lancet to earn 70.440%

British rider Emma Hindle put in a solid performance on Lancet to earn 70.440%. The Hanoverian stallion was the former ride of Schellekens-Bartels but was sold to Hindle following the 2004 Athens Olympics.

one German rider goes in while the other goes out...Isabell Werth passes teammate Heike Kemmer on the way to the ring.

one German rider goes in while the other goes out...Isabell Werth passes teammate Heike Kemmer on the way to the ring.

Isabell was having the ride of her life, working on a record breaking score. At this point, her average was over 83%! It was obvious that they were in a league all on their own.

Isabell was having the ride of her life, working on a record breaking score. At this point, her average was over 83%! It was obvious that they were in a league all on their own.

Isabell's 83% stayed until the first piaffe when Satchmo all of a sudden hit the bit and flew backwards. It was scary because it almost looked like they were going to leave the ring at C! Luckily Isabell was able to get things back on track but it was costly and dropped their score substantially. But they still won the test.

Isabell's 83% stayed until the first piaffe when Satchmo all of a sudden hit the bit and flew backwards. It was scary because it almost looked like they were going to leave the ring at C! Luckily Isabell was able to get things back on track but it was costly and dropped their score substantially. But they still won the test....it really was an unbelievable test with out of this world half-passes and transitions. Wow.

the media scrum for Heike and Isabell

the media scrum for Heike and Isabell

Heike giving an interview

Heike giving an interview

Heike and Isabell try to make their way through

Heike and Isabell try to make their way through

time to get to bed after a superb night of nailbiting dressage. Notice the rings in the background getting doused by a very high-powered and far-reaching sprinklers

time to get to bed after a superb night of nailbiting dressage. Notice the rings in the background getting doused by a very high-powered and far-reaching sprinklers

Some random memories on tonight: hearing the cameras click in unison during the two-tempis; hearing the crowd reaction every time a horse happened to poop while doing his test (judging from their reaction, you would think that the horse/rider should be given extra points!); being on the edge of my seat not only during Ashley’s ride, but every ride after until she had the 15th position secured (man was that ever stressful for me!); marvelling in Steffen Peters’ amazing ride on Ravel…easily the most visually striking combination in the ring that night; being absolutely wowed by Isabell and Satchmo and their technical prowess in the ring – they were the definite masters tonight even with their bobble.

My trip to see the Big Buddha on the hill

I was able to do some more touristy stuff yesterday. Myself, Jenn Miller (dressage vet), Grit High (Eventing’s chair of high performance) and Mike Gallagher (team leader) made the trip via MTR to see the Big Buddha.

The Buddha is on Lantau island near the airport and is the world’s tallest outdoor seated bronze Buddha. The statue is located near Po Lin Monastery and symbolizes the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and religion.

I feel like I’m getting to be an expert with the MTR system here. Once you get the hang of it, it’s actually pretty easy to use. The biggest concern is knowing which MTR card to use (Urban=yellow and New Territories=green). So as we approach the turnstiles, you’ll hear a shout from the first person to go through “Yellow!”. More often that not what immediately preceded this shout was using the wrong card and hitting the turnstiles full force with your hips – ouch! Eventing farrier Chris Volk was so confident that he was using the right card that he nearly did a flip over the turnstiles 🙂

Once you get there, you have a choice of either taking the cable cars or taking a bus. I knew I had no choice but to do the cable cars. Last year when I was in Rio Al gave me major grief for chickening out on seeing Sugar Loaf because I was too afraid to take the cable car. That was a 30 second ride……this one was over 15 mins! But I sucked it up and did it. It wasn’t too bad except for one stretch where you were up incredibly high….with the clouds around you….and the wind picking up so that the car was doing a gentle sway back and forth.  But you have to do one thing a day that scares you, right? If that’s true, then I racked up about a month’s worth in that one cable car ride.

the view from the start....at this point I was seriously questioning my judgement

the view from the start....at this point I was seriously questioning my judgement

getting ready to hop onto the car

getting ready to hop onto the car

my happy calm exterior belies the butterflies that were having a party in my stomach at this point

my happy calm exterior belies the butterflies that were having a party in my stomach at this point

Mike trying to spot the airplane which had our Eventing horse passengers on their way back home

Mike trying to spot the airplane which had our Eventing horse passengers on their way back home

made it! the stores at the top of the hill.

made it! the stores at the top of the hill.

a whole lotta stairs

a whole lotta stairs

almost there!

a breathing break for me cleverly disguised as a photo op

)

I think this was another cleverly disguised photo op 🙂

....and another

....and another

the view from atop

the view from atop

the trip back down

the trip back down

Dr. Jenn

Dr. Jenn

Mike striking a Buddha pose.....

Mike striking a Buddha pose.....

the unbelievably immaculate subway cars

the unbelievably immaculate subway cars

still trying to figure out why you need to use your MTR card to leave the subway system

still trying to figure out why you need to use your MTR card to leave the subway system

at the last station!

at the last station!

a fun photo from Dr. Jenn

a fun photo from Dr. Jenn

Showjumping Underway

I’m woefully behind in my blog postings….sorry everyone! It’s been difficult to find the time to sit down, go through pictures, and collect some coherent thoughts. By the time I get to my room, my comfy bed looks a lot more inviting than the hardback chair in front of the laptop. 🙂

Last night was the first competition for the Jumpers and the stands were packed. As you probably all know by now, Team Canada did a superb job with Mac and Eric jumping clean, Jill with 1 time fault and Ian with an unlucky rail (looks like In Style barely tapped it with his hind hoof). I was surprised to see that a lot of the jumping powerhouses had faults (either rails or time or both). I’m still trying to figure out how the different jumping classes work and I’m pretty sure that last night was to determine a) who qualified for the nations cup and b) the order of go. So I don’t think that the faults carry forward which is too bad in a way because Canada is tied for second with Brazil and Switzerland! Canada will be second last in the order of go for tomorrow night’s team competition with the USA being the last. If last night was anything to go by, it should be an incredible competition.

a wide look at the visually beautiful course

a wide look at the visually beautiful course

interesting that the jumbotron would onlly show the Beijing Olympic logo during a jumper's round......for dressage, it would show the actual competitor's ride at the same time (which freaked out more than 1 horse). Don't know why the jumpers get the advantage of not having the same footage being shown during their rides.

interesting that the jumbotron would onlly show the Beijing Olympic logo during a jumper round yet for dressage it shows live footage of their test and scared many a horse as a result......does not seem too fair to me

some Aussie colours

some Aussie colours

Saudia Arabia had a full team competing and there were also individuals representing United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt.

Saudia Arabia had a full team competing and there were also individuals representing United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt.

Ukraine fan showing her support

Ukraine fan showing her support

on deck at the ingate. In the bottom right corner is US dressage rider Debbie McDonald and her groom Reuben

on deck at the ingate. In the bottom right corner is US dressage rider Debbie McDonald and her groom Reuben

lots of fans out!

lots of fans out!

course designer Leopoldo Palacios

course designer Leopoldo Palacios

a Hong Kong flag in the midst of a packed stand

a Hong Kong flag in the midst of a packed stand

.....I had camera envy

.....I had camera envy

an example of the beautiful Chinese-themed decorations

an example of the beautiful Chinese-themed decorations

one of the many ringside tv cameras

one of the many ringside tv cameras

Team Great Britain watches Tim Stockdale's round

Team Great Britain watches Tim Stockdale's round

Prince of Saudi Arabia checking out the Showjumping action. Saudia Arabia had a full team competing.

Prince of Saudi Arabia checking out the Showjumping action. Saudia Arabia had a full team competing.

Canadian showjumping team watch intently as Jill Henselwood and Special Ed take their turn on course

Canadian showjumping team watch intently as Jill Henselwood and Special Ed take their turn on course

everyone in full concentration mode....including my hero Mark Todd. Sadly the Kiwis had a tough go that night with one rider crashing through a jump and another racking up 47 faults.

everyone in full concentration mode....including my hero Mark Todd. Sadly the Kiwis had a tough go that night with one rider crashing through a jump and another racking up 47 faults.

the half-time show! They might look goofy, but they never fail to get people rushing up to take their pictures. I can't even imagine what it must be like to jump around in a large plastic suit in the heat.

the half-time show! They might look goofy, but they never fail to get people rushing up to take their pictures. I can

Eric Lamaze and Hickstead were in superb Olympic form with a clear round.

Eric Lamaze and Hickstead were in superb Olympic form with a clear round.

some more Hong Kong fans. When Patrick Lam clinched a clear round, the place erupted in deafening cheers and applause. It was quite something! Patrick was so excited that he threw his helmet up into the air and was doing some major fist-pumping in celebration.

some more Hong Kong fans. When Patrick Lam clinched a clear round, the place erupted in deafening cheers and applause. It was quite something! Patrick was so excited that he threw his helmet up into the air and was doing some major fist-pumping in celebration.

Team Canada on the podium to watch Ian Millar's round with In Style

Team Canada on the podium to watch Ian Millar

Ian and In Style looked fantastic with one very unlucky rail....looked like In Style barely touched it with the hindfoot.

Ian and In Style looked fantastic with one very unlucky rail....looked like In Style barely touched it with the hindfoot.

capturing all the action for television viewers around the world

capturing all the action for television viewers around the world

  • )
  • grabbing a snack before heading back to the hotel. I am happy to say that I am still walking today
  • watching Canadian jumpers kick some butt on course  works up an appetite! Dressage chef Ali Buchanan decided to catch his midnight snack
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