Zomg ponies!!!
September 29, 2010 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Commonwealth, schmommonwealth. The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are on. Horse lovers the world over are enthralled by the high drama and hijinks in Lexington, Kentucky this week. Already there's been a controversial withdrawal following a travel-related mishap (on the very same flight hilariously previewed here.) In all the excitement, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, a "cowboy dressage" rider in the opening ceremony, seems to have burst a spleen. As expected, the Dutch took the gold medal in Dressage despite one of their team being disqualified with a horse bleeding from the mouth. Some point to training methods like rollkur, or hyperflexion, saying they are cruel and abusive. The FEI has banned rollkur; former advocates say that what they do is not rollkur, but "LDR" (long, deep and round.) Look at the lawsuits fly! In happier news, the gloriously named Nobby took the gold medal in the Endurance event. "He could go another 100 miles today if you wanted him to," rider Maria Mercedes Alvarez Ponton said of the 15-year-old bay Arab gelding. Still to come, the equestrian triathlon: Eventing!

On the eve of competition, US team favorite Tipperary Liadhnan was another shock withdrawal, this time thanks to an unlucky bout of cellulitis. What made this especially frustrating was that his rider Kim Severson has worked wonders on his showjumping issues. Can the US still win with Karen O'Connor in Severson's place? O'Connor is the darling of the eventing-enthusiast crowd, but some say her horse Mandiba is no match for Theodore O'Connor, the mighty part-Shetland she rode until his untimely death...

It all plays out this weekend. There's video behind a paywall, or, to save your money for that Devoucoux saddle, follow along on the blogosphere. Check out EventingNation, Hamish and Dave, The Chronicle of the Horse or Sidelines Magazine's LaurenGallops or On The Line (disclaimer-slash-boast: On The Line's Erin Gilmore is my own awesome riding instructor. I am not involved in her blog in any way!)

What is it about women and horses, anyway? Maybe this title offers a clue.
posted by rdc (16 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
funny, i was just thinking today (seriously!) about how few equine posts i see here. (had a question about horseshoes, and thought through how to answer it by imagining posting it to ask. i find that little mental exercise to be surprisingly effective...)
posted by lodurr at 12:42 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Awesome post. SQUEE HORSIES!
posted by mrstrotsky at 12:46 PM on September 29, 2010

It's funny to me how this post's in English, and yet it's a completely foreign language.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:55 PM on September 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

Awesome post. SQUEE HORSIES!
posted by mrstrotsky at 3:46 PM on September 29

posted by EvaDestruction at 1:20 PM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I couldn't find any articles where the blood in the saliva found a source. Maybe they use crazy hardware to achieve rollkur in training, but it could have been a freak tacking up accident or the horse bit his tongue.

Any horse that bit its tongue and bled would have been dq'd. Rollkur or not. I guess during warm-up she performed some rollkur move - that and the bleeding made for a charged reaction from fans.

Rollkur freaks me out. It seems to go against everything dressage/cavalry/classical seat has ever stood for. On the other hand there's a lot of technique out there that 90% of riders have no business attempting.

Reading the story of the horse's shipping woes was quite sad. But that owner seemed to be quite caring and careful, a nice contrast from the bloody dq.

Horses have it rough. Thanks for the post.

Not that my opinion means anything, I'm barely out of intro level.
posted by drowsy at 1:23 PM on September 29, 2010

My daughter has a horse, or more accurately, I own a horse that she rides. I actually understood this post. I guess I've leaned something by osmosis.
posted by COD at 1:31 PM on September 29, 2010

From what I can see here, the fact that there's even any controversy over rollkur means some rich assholes need to be dragged behind a team of horses.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:42 PM on September 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

The initial reports here said that the horse bit his lip.

Lexingtonians, of course, are well aware of the opportunities that the Games present. Seen on a handlettered sign made of pink posterboard (and still in place an hour ago):

Kentucky Souvenirs
Good Junk
posted by dilettante at 1:44 PM on September 29, 2010

Yay! Fun post. I'm glad to give this part of my brain a workout, now that I'm not around the horsey set regularly anymore. Thanks, rdc!
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:45 PM on September 29, 2010

Oh, and the Courier article doesn't mention it, but the rider who won the gold in the endurance race just gave birth to a daughter seven weeks ago.
posted by dilettante at 1:53 PM on September 29, 2010

Lexington basically destroyed what was left of its downtown to get these games. It's a sordid story: A local developer named Dudley Webb *sound of spitting* leveled one of the few productive downtown blocks that escaped his bulldozers in the 1970s and '80s in order to build a giant luxury hotel complex for the couple hundred thousand people that would be coming to Lex for the games. (Lexington's metro population is about 400,000.) It was a daffy idea from the get go, as occupancy rates in Lexington's hotels were already perilously low. Webb argued that, after the games concluded, the hotel itself would be a tourist attraction. With a straight face, evidently.

Anyway, the drooling flunkies in city hall gave him the go ahead and the block was leveled. Then the economy collapsed, and the block remained a pile of rubble for a couple years, as though Blitzkrieged. It was assumed that the reason the project stalled was because the credit markets were virtually frozen. But in fact, it was because the financier for the entire project--who was anonymous!--died intestate,* and his son was not inclined to cough up the money. The drooling flunkies at city hall had never asked where the money was coming from. So then Dudley Webb *sound of spitting* eventually cleared away the rubble, and now the site of the would-be luxury hotel is a grassy field in the center of town with no trespassing signs and security cameras all around to keep people from using it. I heard they're importing horses in from the country and letting them scamper and whinny during the games. But it's shameful.

Sorry for the long post. But this guy pisses me off.

*Here's the best bit from the article: "Councilman Tom Blues, a critic of [the hotel], said [the investor's son's] letter is so odd that he initially thought it was fake. "I thought it was a hoax. It was so mysterious. It came on stationery that had no letterhead.... it is cloaked in vagueness and mystery and in secrecy."
posted by Zerowensboring at 2:18 PM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

Zerowensboring, thanks for filling in the details about the CentrePoint fiasco. I knew there was some controversy about the whole thing, but I never got the whole story about what was going on with that block downtown.

(I wouldn't agree that the downtown is destroyed - I think Lexington still has a pretty cool downtown for such a small city.)
posted by tdismukes at 2:31 PM on September 29, 2010

These are great links! I've been looking over local stables since my old trainer moved to VA, but this is a good incentive to get back in the saddle (although I will never ever be close to this level). I may just have to break down and buy a month of video- it would be so awesome to watch!
posted by Mouse Army at 2:55 PM on September 29, 2010

Tdismukes, please note the lame hedge word--"basically" destroyed. Seriously, though, you're right. Lex's downtown is good for a city its size, but it used to be great, something akin to Asheville. And it's continuing to be nibbled at by jerks like Webb. Lex has suffered the same fate as many cities of its size in the last thirty or forty years: continual demolition of historic buildings, the lots converted into parking lots and failed businesses, thanks to city management by people who don't live downtown and don't actually *understand* what the concept of downtown is. Look at photos of Lexington from the 50s and 60s, before "urban renewal" took hold, and it's a happenin tableau.

God I get so worked up about this! Time for some lavender-coriander aromatherapy.
posted by Zerowensboring at 2:59 PM on September 29, 2010

Great post - the Australian video guys are having way too much fun.

Another link people may find interesting - Helmets or Top Hats?
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:17 PM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Fuck, that CentrePointe fiasco makes me SO ANGRY


Thanks for providing that backstory, Zerowensboring. I try not to remember it because, you know... rage.

I try to think of the entire city block that is just grassy as an idyllic cool/weird thing, except that mostly you aren't allowed to walk on it, and that makes me angry again

But this is the first time in its history that the WEGames have been held in the United States. Up the Commonwealth!
posted by King, in the hall of the mountain at 6:14 PM on September 29, 2010

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