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Archive for the ‘Olympics’ Category

Olympic Jumping Day 1

After a formal training day yesterday in the main stadium, day one of jumping competition got underway with the first Individual Qualifier.

Today definitely has the most spectators so far, but as you can see it’s still pretty sparse but hopefully that will change with each day of competition.


Yann Candele & First Choice 15

Yann Candele was the trailblazer for Canada with First Choice 15. This is Yann’s second Olympics as he was the travelling reserve for London 2012.

First Choice 15 looked very fresh, soaring over the very large fences and giving them lots of room. Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned at the final line, which proved to be the bogey fence for many of the world’s top horse/rider combinations.

Yann did an amazing job getting through this line, both encouraging First Choice while at the same time getting out of his way, and only incurred 4 faults.


Tiffany Foster & Tripple X III

This is also Tiffany’s second Olympics, but she is definitely looking for a much different experience after London 2012 where her horse Victor was disqualified even before competition got started because of a small knick on his coronet caused a positive hypersensitivity test.

It’s also a second Olympics for Tripple X III, who was part of the gold medal winning British team at London 2012 with then-partner Ben Maher.

Tiffany and Tripple X III really made the course look smooth and easy. They soared effortlessly over the jumps, and nailed all the distances. They even looked stylish through that troublesome last line, and had the second element down. It really seemed like a cheap rail because it had nothing to do with the height, or the approach. It just looked like he slightly clipped the rail with his hind hoof on the descent. But no mater how you get a rail down, it’s still 4 faults. Here’s hoping that it’s enough to qualifying them for the second round because they truly looked amazingly powerful and poised out there.

Amy Millar & Heros

It’s no secret that there are very high expectations on Amy’s shoulders given her Dad’s legendary status not only in Canada, but in the world of showjumping. But anyone who has seen Amy ride knows that she is uber-talented in her own right, and her partnership with Heros has seen some amazing results this year.

They entered the main stadium looking like cool cucumbers, and that didn’t change as they worked their way through the course conquering the fences one by one.

There was one heart-stopping moment mid-way when Heros touched a rail on the way down with his hind legs, much like Tripple X III had done earlier, but thankfully it just rattled a bit in the cups but didn’t come down.


As happy as Amy was about her brilliant round, her dad was even happier! What a way to start off your Olympic debut. And even more impressive that Hero is one of the youngest and least experienced horses in the international field. Way to go Amy and Heros!


Eric Lamaze & Fine Lady 5

This is Eric’s third Olympic appearance, after winning individual gold in 2008 with Hickstead, and I think what’s fair to say a disappointing London 2012 experience. In 2012, Eric had the relatively inexperienced Derly Chin de Muze. For Rio, he has the very experienced Fine Lady 5 and I think it’s fair to say it will be a very different experience for him. The pair certainly looked very in harmony with one another, and Eric put in a very masterful ride to go clear.

So that’s 2 clear and 2 4 faults for Canada after Day 1. Given the difficulty of the course, and the casualties it claimed to some very top level horses & riders, this bodes very well for the days to come!

Likely more difficult than riding an Olympic course yourself is to watch your friend, mentor and teammate ride one!


Lots of Misses and Spills

The course set by Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge was big – bigger than the opening class in London 2012. And it took it’s toll on several big names.

Included in that list was Belgian Nicola Philippaerts on Ziverstar T. They had 2 refusals at the second element of that trick last line (with the musical notes). I was taken aback at how rough Nicola treated his horse, and Horse & Hound are reporting that the Ground Jury have subsequently disqualified him for excessive use of spurs.

Jur Vrieling of the Netherlands also ran afoul of the Ground Jury for using his whip excessively after having two refusals (at different fences). But unlike Nicola (who is competing as an individual only), Jur can continue riding as part of his team in the next round.

I’m not sure I understand the logic in that. How can you eliminate one rider for being abusive to his horse, but not the other? That’s a question the FEI should be made to answer.

Note…since originally writing the above, the FEI has just issued this statement:

Stephan Ellenbruch, President of the Rio 2016 Equestrian Olympic Ground Jury, said: “We can confirm that Jur Vrieling has been disqualified from today’s individual Jumping competition.
The FEI’s rules are very specific -if any blood is found on the flank of a horse, the Athlete/Horse combination is automatically disqualified from the competition.
The veterinarians on site have examined the horse, Zirocco Blue, and will continue to monitor to ensure he is fit to compete on Tuesday, 16 August for the Jumping Team Round 1 qualifier event”.
*Please see FEI rule below:
Article 242.3.1 of the FEI Jumping Rules: Horses bleeding on the flank(s), in the mouth or nose or marks indicating excessive use of spurs or of the whip anywhere on the Horse (in minor cases of blood in the mouth, such as where a Horse appears to have bitten its tongue or lip, Officials may authorize the rinsing or wiping of the mouth and allow the Athlete to continue; any further evidence of blood in the mouth will result in Disqualification.)
*Please see statements below from the Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation:
Rob Ehrens, Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation national coach: “I’ve been a professional rider for 27 years and I know the feeling when everything goes wrong. But this should not happen and will not happen again. While Jur and Zirocco Blue are chasing medals, this has to be handled professionally. We will use tomorrow to relax Zirocco Blue.”
Jur Vrieling: “I was encouraging him, saying ‘come on boy, don’t do this again’. I should not have given him these extra pushes. It is stupid, this happened in the heat of the moment, and it will not happen again.”

Biggest Upset of the Day

France’s Penelope LePrevost is one of the top riders in the world, and heavily favourited for an individual medal. Those hopes fell apart when Flora de Mariposa stumbled on the landing of a huge jumping effort. This pitched Penelope forward, and she never had a chance to recover. The strangest things can happen at an Olympics that would never happen anywhere else, and unfortunately the consequences can be devastating.


Honorable Mentions

It’s tough to pick out some non-Canadian favourites when there are so many absolutely stunningly talented horses here in Rio. But there are a couple who I loved prior to Rio, and love even more after seeing them go around the course.

Brazil’s Quabri de L’Isle (Pedro Veniss).  I first saw this horse at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and immediately had to look him up to see who he was. Aside from being gorgeous to look at even when standing, which is beautiful flaxen mane and tail, he can also jump the moon. This picture definitely doesn’t do him justice.


Japan’s Imothep (Taizo Sugitani). This horse used to be ridden by Ireland’s Darragh Kenny and is another one who I couldn’t take my eyes off of when first seeing him at Spruce Meadows. And he still looks stunning with his new rider Taizo Sugitani. Unfortunately it wasn’t their day today as they picked up 16 faults….but I still love him.



I just love this shot of Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Fibonacci. It’s a testament to the depth of talent (both rider power and horsepower) that Meredith was called up at the very last minute in Rio to replace Marcus Ehning whose horse incurred a minor injury after taking a stumble in yesterday’s training session.  Talk about scope! This is the water jump.


Studying the course…


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Captain,Torchy and I are happy with today results.

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Lots of Canadian fans out!






View from the media area

Let’s hear it for the ring crew! I wouldn’t fancy putting together this jigsaw fence in a hurry.



Access here

Jumping Team Round 1 & 2nd Individual Qualifier

Jumping takes a day off tomorrow to make way for the Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle, then is back on August 16th.

I’m really liking the compressed schedule, but it does make for non-stop days without much of a breather!

How does it work?

The top 60 from the 1st Individual Qualifier move forward to the 2nd Individual Qualifier. And the scores from today don’t move forward to the 2nd Individual Round. It does make for a very arduous competition since those that make it to the end are jumping up to 5 rounds (or 6 if there’s a jump-off). At these heights, that seems crazy to me and I don’t understand why they can’t better combine the Individual and Team rounds. Can you imagine asking Eventers to run another cross-country for individual medals??

As things progress, a number of individual competitors are dropped each day. All Team riders can continue to jump so long as their Team is still qualified to jump. And ALL Teams (and their members) jump in Team Round 1.




Super Focus for Belinda & Anton in Grand Prix Speciale

Today was the completion of the Team Competition for medals, and the final qualification for those moving into the Grand Prix Freestyle individual round.

Belinda and Anton were 3rd to go in the ring, and they put in another very solid and steady test.

There was some weird, and very sudden feedback, from the sound systems that happened early on which the crowd then reacted to. But if Belinda and Anton heard it (I don’t see how they couldn’t!), they didn’t show it. Not even a change in their rhythm.

The judges rewarded their efforts with 72.325, which is a few percentage points down from their personal best (75.529%). This placed them 27th in the field of 31 starters.


Belinda’s family showing their proud support.

I think it’s fair to say that Belinda is very happy with her second Olympic experience!



Megan and Belinda did an amazingly professional job representing the maple leaf at these Olympics, and I think they both really made an impression on judges and other countries of the quality of riding in Canada.

Here’s to Canada getting a FULL team to Tokyo 2020, and thank you Megan and Belinda for  giving us all someone for whom to cheer wildly.


Team Medals

Germany had a pretty solid lock on the #1 spot going into the Speciale, so it was no surprise that they ended up as the Team Gold medalists. Having said that, I don’t think anyone expected dressage great Isabell Werth to take the win in the Speciale, scoring 83.711%.

This is Isabell’s sixth Olympic gold medal, her first two collected in Barcelona (ESP) in 1992 where she claimed team gold and individual silver. She has now matched the record set by the Anky van Grunsven with nine Olympic medals in total. If she picks up another on Monday (for the Freestyle) she will hold a whole new record.

Full Results

Pure power

Olympic Games Rio 2016

Werth Isabell, GER, Weihegold OLD Olympic Games Rio 2016 Photo © Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans 11/08/16


Team Great Britain – Silver Medalists!

Unfortunately mistakes in their test meant that Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro finished second, but still with a strong score of 82.983%.

What’s amazing is that Charlotte, Dorothee Schneider (GER) and Kristina Broring-Sprehe were all within 1.5% percent of another, which should make for an extremely exciting Grand Prix Freestyle.


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Team USA – Bronze Medalists! 

The USA have really been in a serious rebuilding phase over the past few years, led by ultimate cheerleader Robert Dover and super coach Debbie McDonald. With  multiple Olympics and medals between them, and their very positive yet unrelenting work ethics, it’s not surprising that they have made significant changes to the US program that has resulted in a Team Bronze medal – edging out Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.

This is the first Olympic dressage team medal for the USA since Athens 2004, where they won bronze. Robert Dover (Kennedy) and Debbie McDonald (Brentina) were on that 2004 team, along with Gunter Seidel (Aragon) and Lisa Wilcox (Relevant).

Ride of the day has to go to Laura Graves, who put in the ride of her life and broke into the 80% club for the first time with 80.644%. This duo just keep getting better and better, so it will be exciting to see what happens in the Freestyle for the individual medal race.


Laura’s teammates literally running to congratulate her after her amazing performance.


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Selfie time!! #USequestrian #TwoHearts #Rio2016

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On to the Freestyle and Individual Medal Round

So now Dressage takes a bit of a break until August 15th, when the top 18 combinations will ride for individual glory. Note – only a max of 3 riders from the same country can move forward, which means that Germany’s Sonke Rothenberger will be cheering on from the stands.

It will also feel weird not to see Edward Gal in the Freestyle. He missed out qualifying by a mere .169%.

However there are 3 Americans: Laura Graves, Steffen Peters and Allison Brock all made the cut.

Riding times, when available, will be posted here.

We should be in for a real treat!


No Pokemons today! 

Freestyle up next! 







The Canadian Jumpers are Here!

With a much more compact schedule for these Olympics, it’s been a challenge to keep on top of everything!

So here’s a quick blog to show some love to our Canadian Showjumpers who arrived earlier this week.

This year’s team is Eric Lamaze, Yann Candele, Tiffany Foster and Amy Millar with Kara Chad as the travelling reserve and commandeered by chef d’equipe Mark Laskin. I think they looked pretty stoked about Rio!

The horses flew out from Liege, Belgium where they have been based following their fantastic performances last month in Aachen, Germany.

Amy Millar’s Heros


I see what you did there….Tiffany Foster’s Tripple X III and groom Caroline Holberg

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On our way to the Rio Olympics!! ✨🇧🇷🏅✨

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Frankfurt airport departure to Rio in 20 minutes !!

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I think Yann might be just a little excited about Rio?


Stables suitably “Canadian-ified”


A pretty happy looking group! 
From left to right: Franca Maas (groom for Bellinda), Martina Natali (groom for Fine Lady 5), Caroline Holberg (groom for Tripple X III), Yann Candele, Kara Chad, Amy Millar, Karen Hendry Ouellette (Jump Manager), Virginie Castleman (groom for First Choice 15)

Arriving a few days earlier meant that everyone can get settled in, and take in a few sights before getting into serious competition mode.


Groom Caroline Holberg taking Tripple X III for a leisurely stroll around the Deodoro grounds.




The jog took place this morning (August 12) prior to the Grand Prix Speciale kicking off. And all Canadian horses passed with flying colours….although some took the word “flying” a little too literally!

But first….let’s take a selfie

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Let's do this!! 🇨🇦💫🙌🏼 @tiffanyfoster18

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Phew! Got the beans out before actually trotting up.




Showjumping Schedule

August 13 – Training Session

August 14 – 1st Qualifier (Individual)

August 16 – Jumping – Team Round 1 (Individual 2nd & Team Qualifier)

August 17 – Jumping – Team Round 12 (Team Final and Individual 3rd Qualifier)

August 19 – Jumping Individual Final






Belinda Into the Speciale!

It was another fantastic day for Dressage in Deodoro.

Session 2 saw a lot of the “top guns” perform between the white fences, including Canada’s own Belinda Trussell and Anton.

Belinda is currently Canada’s top international dressage rider, currently ranked 34th in the world. This is Belinda’s second Olympic appearance (her first being 2004 Athens with Royan II), and the first for her partner Anton. The pair actually had planned for a spot on the London 2012 team, but a paddock injury not only put the brakes on that plan, it also jeopardized Anton’s competitive career. (read a great article on this here)

After Megan’s brilliant ride yesterday, Belinda was undoubtedly found even more inspiration to leave it all in the ring today.

Belinda and Anton were the first horse/rider combination in the ring today, and given the heavy hitters which were to follow later in the day I can’t help but shake the feeling that the judges were a little conservative with their marks so early in the morning.

Anton can be a bit of a ‘hot potato’ in the ring, but that is also what contributes to his flair. I think it’s fair to say that the best performances in the world are when the rider can ride right to the edge, but still keep it all contained. There’s definitely a razor’s edge between brilliance and explosion.

But getting back to Belinda, it was another Canadian demonstration of extremely correct riding, terrific harmony between horse and rider, and a very harmonious test.

The best part is, Belinda came very close to matching her personal best score in the Grand Prix, and there is still way more in the tank to get those higher scores. So now that Belinda is officially qualified to move into tomorrow’s Grand Prix Speciale, I suspect that she will tap into that and build upon Anton’s relaxation & confidence in the ring to really draw that brilliance out of him.

I can’t wait to see it how it unfolds for them tomorrow!

I think it’s safe to say that Canada had some pretty hard-core fans on hand to cheer on Belinda, including her Mom, Dad and sister.

But I don’t think anyone quite matched the excitement intensity of Usha Knabe (Anton’s personal Vet) and Lynsey Rowan (Anton’s supergroom)


I was really hoping that Megan would have just squeaked into the Grand Prix Speciale, but alas it wasn’t meant to me. Although by my calculations, I think Megan only missed out by less than 1%! That is incredibly impressive for your debut Olympics and something that Megan should be incredibly proud.



The Dressage Queens

It is so cool to see a sport where men & women compete on equal footing was totally dominated by women today. The top 5 placings are all rocking the girl power:

  1. Charlotte Dujardin & Valegro – 85.701
  2. Kristina Broring-Sprehe & Desperados FRH – 82.257
  3. Dorothee Schneider & Showtime FRH – 80.986
  4. Isabell Werth & Weihevoll OLD – 80.643
  5. Laura Graves & Verdades – 78.071

Both Charlotte and Kristina rides were mind-blowing: elegance, power and just plain old making it look like their horses floated on air all by themselves.

That’s not to say that the others weren’t amazing – there were some other fantastic rides for sure. But those two were just dazzling.

It’s certainly going to make for some very exciting action in the Freestyle for the individual medal. (taking place Monday August 15th)

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Making memories that will last a lifetime ❤️

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How high would you like Mom?


Team Competition

It’s also an extremely exciting team competition that has taken shape. While Germany is the current leader, Great Britain are nipping at their heels only 2.043% away. And while the US are currently in 3rd, it’s very tight with Netherlands and Sweden nipping at their heels.

  1. Germany – 81.295
  2. Great Britain – 79.252
  3. United States – 76.971
  4. Netherlands – 76.043
  5. Sweden – 75.319


Grand Prix Schedule

Action gets underway tomorrow (August 12) at 10:00am Rio time (9:00am EST).

Belinda and Anton are 3rd in the ring at 10:18am Rio time, so the judges should be nicely warmed up by then.

Download full riding schedule


How does it work for the Team and Individuals?

  • The top six teams from the Grand Prix move forward to the Grand Prix Special
  • Each team’s top three scores from both tests (Grand Prix and Speciale) are added together to decide the Team medals.


  • The top 18 competitors from the Grand Prix Special will go on to compete in the Individual final, the Grand Prix Freestyle, on Monday, August 15
  • Only three athletes from each nation are eligible compete in the Freestyle, which will ultimately decide the Olympic Champion.

Follow the Results


Watch Online

CBC’s website is showing that they will be providing a livestream.





In other news…..

The Eventers are busy preparing for the journey back home. It’s always amazing how quickly time goes by during a Games. Which is why it’s so important to soak in as much as you can, because the memories will stay with you for a lifetime.

I’m so glad that the Eventers had a chance to take in some other Olympic sports before hitting the road back home, including Basketball and Rugby.



Colleen Loach (l) and Rebecca Howard (r) share a final toast before boarding the plane home. Did you know that Rebecca is the top placed female Eventer at the Rio Olympics???? Let that one sink in and let’s all raise a glass to toast her brilliance. 🙂2016-08-11-Airport

Canadian Eventing Grooms Rock!

Grooms are the hardest working people in the room, hands down. Crazy early mornings, always on top of things during the day, and often long nights. Yet they are such a critical part of each rider’s success, and each horse’s well-being and happiness.

Big shout out to Canada’s Eventing Grooms: 

Sandra Andresen (A Little Romance & Jessica Phoenix)
Janie Lussier (Qorry Blue d’Argrouges & Colleen Loach)
Angela Moslon (Riddle Master & Rebecca Howard)
Sophie Richardson (Let it Bee & Kathryn Robinson)





The Smile that Lit up Brazil!

The day all dressage fans have been waiting for….Day 1 of the Grand Prix at Deodoro Olympic Stadium!

Today saw 30 horse/rider combinations go down the centreline in what is Session 1 of the Grand Prix. Tomorrow will see Session 2 with another 30 rides. The outcome will then determine who are the 6 Teams who will progress onto Friday’s Grand Prix Speciale.

Again, it was disappointing to see so many empty seats. I really think this is largely down to location. Aachen (Germany) have massive stands, and they are always packed.


Megan Lane was the 10th rider of the day, so the judges were well warmed up by the time she hit the big sandbox.  You’d never know this was her very first Olympic Games given how calm and relaxed she looked when entering the main stadium. And that smile! It never left her face, and in fact only got bigger as her ride went on.

She nailed it all – 1-tempi changes, pirouettes, extended trot, piaffe. It was fantastic to watch. The armchair critic in me would say that a little more energy and less travelling in the piaffe would have pushed her even higher, but it really was a fantastic ride and one which may even qualify her for Friday’s Grand Prix Speciale. I hope she does make it to the Speciale, because I have a feeling she will push the envelope further to get even more brilliance in the ring.

The FEI Grand Prix Special is limited to and compulsory for the best six (6) placed teams of the Grand Prix, including those tied for sixth place, as well as the eight (8) highest placed Athletes of the Grand Prix not otherwise participating as qualified team members, including those tied for eighth place. So pay close attention to how the placings work out following tomorrow’s second Grand Prix session….Canada might just get both Megan and Belinda in there!


Megan’s is such a phenomenal story. Caravella is owned by her family and is Canadian bred by another Canadian dressage rider – Jill Irving. Trained by Megan, he pair have methodically worked their way up the Junior and Young Rider ranks until they made their first Senior National Team in 2014 at the World Equestrian Games (Normandy). Then went on to help Canada earn a Team Silver at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.

The smile of a newly minted Olympian who nailed it in the biggest sandbox in the world.

Megan sister’s Kelley (far left) is undoubtedly Megan’s biggest fan!


Team Canada’s Chef de Mission Curt Harnett even stopped by to watch Megan in action. Curt has a soft spot for Dressage as his wife is none other than Victoria Winter who has represented Canada at two World Equestrian Games (1998 & 2010) and multi-medalist at the Pan American Games (1995 & 1997).

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Megan and her supergroup Evelyn Lucas celebrating in true Canadian fashion…with a cold one 🙂

“You guys have all led me to be the person that I am here today”

The Top 5 After Day 1

The USA’s Kasey Perry-Glass had a fantastic ride in her first Olympics aboard Dublet. The duo put in a very elastic and energetic test which was rewarded by the judges with a score of 75.229%. Combined with Alison Brock’s earlier ride of 72.686, the Americans are looking great going into day 2 which will see Steffen Peters and Laura Graves perform.


Great Britain’s Fiona Bigwood laid down a very solid test to score 77.157% and set up Great Britain extremely well for a Team Gold repeat. Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin both ride tomorrow.

For those who aren’t familiar with Fiona’s story, a freak riding accident in 2014 caused not only a concussion but lasting nerve damage to her eye. Fiona continues to experience double vision in her one eye which is why she rides with an eye patch.

The Germans certainly laid down the gauntlet when Dorothee Schneider, the last rider of the day, put in a spectacular test and was the first to crack the 80% barrier with  80.986%

Full Results

Thursday Grand Prix Riding Times

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Watching Online

Although CBC provided brilliant coverage of every Eventing day (including both Dressage days), the same isn’t true for Dressage. They are apparently only showing the Grand Prix Speciale and Freestyle days.

Hopefully the outcry today will mean they will have a change of heart, in which case check it out here:

The following link has apparently been working for many folks, but do be careful. There are a number of pop-up windows enticing you to click on them or “login”. Ignore these, and apparently the livestream feed from BBC works great—day-1-morning-session-live-stream-online.html

Olympic Heartbreak

It was heartbreaking to watch what happened to Dutch Team Rider Adelinde Corneslissen and her beautiful Parzival.  Near the very beginning of her dressage test, you could see Parzival’s tongue hanging out, and it almost looked like he might have somehow got his tongue between the bits. It was actually remarkable how well he was still performing, and a true testament to the special bond between this horse and rider. During the free walk, Adelinde excused herself from the ring, looking visibly disappointed. She then took to Facebook to provide more information on what the last 48 hours has been like for her. Kudos to Adelinde for her horsemanship.

This was to be Parzival’s swan song, after winning so many medals with his partner Adelinde including Silver and Bronze at the London 2012 Games, and Gold at the 2010 Kentucky World Equestrian Games.



Not sure if these will work, but here you go.

The Netherland’s Edward Gal & Voice



Belinda and Anton On Deck!

In tomorrow’s Session 2, it will be Belinda’s turn to shine with Anton. This pair have had a fabulous 2016 season, culminating with personal bests and Canadian record-breaking scores.

They ride at 10:00am Rio time.

Go Canada Go! 

Gunshots Still Ringing

After the scare a few days ago when a bullet came through the media tent, gunshots could again be heard throughout the day, and apparently another bullet was found on site. However since the Olympic Shooting venue is nearby, I’m not sure if that was the source of the gunfire?

Kasey Perry-Glass told the Chronicle of the Horse that the noise did bother her gelding, but saying that “He hung in there really well for me, especially with all the guns going off.” (read the full interview here)

The practice of learning how to ride through gunfire is a skill that I’m pretty sure was dropped many moons ago when nations stopped using a cavalry in active warfare. Although maybe it might be a good idea for future Games to get some tips from the Mounted Police!


Canada’s Eventing Team taking in some Olympic basketball action




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