What an absolutely fantastic day yesterday.
So fantastic, that I wasn’t even able to blog last night and had to wait until this morning.
First on the agenda was a trip to the Eventing grooms’ hotel, where in spite of having booked 3 rooms, and going there 2 days earlier to confirm and provide groom names, the hotel only had 2 rooms for our 5 grooms when they checked in the previous night. Problem is….we have 4 girls and 1 guy. After some calls to our Eventing chef Graeme, team manager Fleur, and USA Team Leader Jim Wolf (who was in a similar predicament of being 1 room short) we were able to get 1 additional room to be shared between Canada & the USA.
Next on the agenda was a trip out to the Eventing venue, Club Hipica, to see how our Eventers were settling in to their Mexican digs for the next 10 days. Good news is that all the horses settled in very well, and everyone is very happy with the stabling and setup. And things are drying up very fast under the warm Mexican sun.
It was actually kind of neat walking in to the venue as Pentathlon is still happening. That day it was the fencing portion taking place under the covered arena.
After leaving the stables, our next stop was the office where Accreditation printing/activation was taking place. Unfortunately COPAG took a very long time to organize Owner accreditations. I have a feeling they just didn’t understand what Owners are (Since equestrian is the only sport that has owners), and it was pretty low down on their priority list. This meant that we had owners on the ground for Dressage with no Accreds around their neck, although Gina was able to get them wristbands. Coupled with the fact that the makeshift Accred centre at Club Hipica didn’t have access to the main COPAG system (where all of our Owner information is entered), that meant some scrambling to pull together all owner photos and passport information (Thank you Sandra deGraaff at EC and Andree St-Eloi at COC!!!!).
So you can imagine our huge relief when Guillermo handed us a big pack with ALL of our Owner Accreds….thank goodness!
We then made a beeline to the Country Club, where dressage competition was already underway, to hand out the Owner Accreds. We felt like Santa Claus! The Owners were VERY happy to finally be official. And we were very excited to hear that Roberta and Crystal both had great rides.
We managed to make our way to the designated seating area just in time to see Tina Irwin and Winston put in a very elegant and fluid test, marred only by 1 uncharacteristic spook (some people said they saw a branch fall from a tree directly adjacent to the ring). But Tina & Winston immediately regained their exposure, and the rest of their ride was smooth.
There was definitely some very very fancy horses at these Games, with the overall quality being much higher than in 2007 in Rio. The Americans looked absolutely fantastic, putting in consistently high scoring rides capped off with a terrifically expressive ride from Steffen Peters & Weltino’s Magic.
Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muniz laid down an early challenge for the individual medals (which starts today), and there was an incredibly fancy horse from Columbia (name escapes me at the moment) whose gaits were so animated that it didn’t even look like his feet touch the ground. In the end, Columbia won Team Bronze and a team berth for 2012 Olympics (I think a first for that country!!).
What made the day even more special is that we had a very strong COC presence at our venue that day. Canada’s chef de mission Jacques Cardyn, Asst. chef Curt Harnett and COC vice president Tricia Smith all came out to spend the afternoon watching our dressage riders and were able to witness our team collect their very well deserved silver medals. It’s no secret that we are the ‘expensive’ child in the COC family, with a whole slew of extra logistical requirements that don’t exist for other sports (quarantine, horse flights, feed, vet supplies, owners etc. etc), so it’s always nice for the COC to see the fruits of all the efforts that go into getting our teams to and from major games.
Another thing I always find so encouraging when I go to major games is just how well liked Canadians are. I got a bit chocked up when I told our riders (following the press conference) how they represent everything that makes me proud to be Canadian: their team spirit, professionalism, grace under pressure, willingness to help others, and overall sense of fun that permeates everything they do.
I can’t tell you how great it was to be sitting in the stands, and talking with Norbert van Laak (former Canadian Team Coach and attending the Pan Ams as coach of one of the Brazilian riders), who rode every stride with our Canadian riders and rooting for them all the way; Albrecht Heidemann (former Canadian Junior/YR Team Coach, and current Costa Rica Team Coach) and Heidi Mello (Team Leader for Bermuda and the Cayman Islands)….all of them cheering on the Maple Leaf.
Today’s competition is the Intermediare I, with all 4 of our riders competing. The top 15 then move on to the Freestyle on Wednesday where the individuals medals will be decided.
Our Eventers are hoping to come over in the afternoon to cheer on our Dressage riders.
I leave you with some pics (still figuring out how to get some video on here)