Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympic Spirit

Everyone is excited about London 2012! Last weekend, the annual BreyerFest celebration took place in Lexington, KY. In honor of this summer's games, Breyer chose the theme "British Invasion" to include all things English (a Beatles tribute band concert, Poppycock Parade, British Breeds Showcase, Best of Britain display, and the Hyde Park Petting Zoo....just to name a few of the highlights) . There were special guests, demonstrations, and contests galore! A local pony clubber, newbie eventer, and recent fox hunting convert -- Alivia Cotter -- attended the festival, taking home the top prize -- a brand new model of the incredibly adorable Brookside Pink Magnum -- in the Hair Fascinator contest. Now, we all know what a hair fascinator is, right? You know, the head pieces that have taken the place of traditional brimmed hats at all fashionable, high society activities across the UK? Still doesn't ring a bell? Well, maybe this will jog your memory. 

Anyhoo, the BreyerFest Hair Fascinator contest required young entrants to create a hair piece that contained model horses with a British theme. Below is Alivia's stunning, winning creation:

It even lights up!

When she is not busy out-styling the Duchess of Cambridge, Alivia can be found doing all sorts of fun things with her sweet little pony, Shadow.

Cross-country schooling at River Glen

More cross-country at River Glen

Hunting in 2011-2012 with the Tennessee Valley Hunt

All I have to say is that if it were more socially-acceptable for someone in her 30's to (still) collect model horses and handcraft fancy hats, then I totally would have been there in Lexington this year. If someone at Breyer gets ambitious and manages to persuade Benedict Cumberbatch to present the new War Horse model at next year's gathering, then I will be right down front -- possibly knocking 60lb 11 and 12-year-old girls outta my way. No, I kid, I kid.   But, really.....

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Oops....someone did it again.

Illustration by the incomparable and totally outrageous Graham Roumieu

I'm a pretty easy-going, laid-back, ever-smiling kind of person. But one thing that makes me go all "Bigfoot" on somebody is when a journalist makes a careless or lazy mistake in his/her reporting. Even here on my amateur, goofy, and personal blog/rantings, I do my research before I post a date, insert a name, or list details of a place or location. These are just simple, basic facts that I check once, twice, and, often, thrice before posting. I don't get paid to write my blog and I don't get any public recognition. This is my place to share with my friends, family, occasional visitors, and regular followers.When I'm this careful with casual compositions, I expect professionals to be particularly manic about the accuracy of their writing. Unfortunately, sometimes, bad writing still gets published (and paid). 

Case in point: I read a recent link posted by Perez Hilton about 20 openly-gay athletes at the 2012 Olympics. For someone who is very open-minded and moderately liberal about political issues and societal mores, I was pleased to see the recognition of sportsmen/sportswomen who have the courage to acknowledge their choice and live an open lifestyle. When I clicked on the link, it profiled a range of athletes (not just the horseback riders, people, so get over it), from tennis stars to track stars, and then I saw the obvious profile of the Netherlands' incredibly talented dressage rider, Edward Gal. Gal and his partner, Hans Peter Minderhoud, were a high-profile fixture at the 2010 WEG, so the list including him as an openly-gay Olympic athlete is a no-brainer. But, what horrified me more than watching a lycra miniskirt ride up the considerable backside of a 300lb woman in the checkout line at Wal Mart was the blatantly inaccurate and completely INCORRECT (embarrassingly so, for anyone who knows anything) biography listed with the profile. To quote: "Gal and his current horse, Moorlands Totilas, are dominant in the international dressage world. At the 2010 World Championships they won three gold medals and are expected to fare well in London." Well, that's interesting.....since Edward Gal famously parted-ways with Totilas a year and a half ago.....and, because Totilas isn't even going to compete in London at all (with or without Gal). It pains me that for a 3-line bio, the author couldn't even take the time or care enough to find information on this top-caliber rider that was more current and up-to-date than 2010. Are you kidding me?

I have to let this go. I just have to. Otherwise, it will make me insane, and the writer of this crap will blissfully continue to live a joyous and ignorant life out there, being none-the-wiser. He did his bit and slapped together a feature, then submitted it and it was published online. End of job, pay him his dough. But some small part of me dies every time a lie is published (and, yes, it is a lie when a complete falsehood is presented as stone-cold fact). I know that BuzzFeed isn't exactly Vanity Fair (and, I have to say that VF has shaped up since I blogged about this debacle a while back), but, if you're going to write something, then by gosh make sure that what you write is right. 

And, yes, I triple-checked the spelling of Totilas and Hans Peter Minderhoud (against at least three different sources) before I published this. It wasn't that difficult and I barely broke a sweat.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Low-key Luminosity

With all of the exciting hype surrounding Olympic eventing team announcements over the past few weeks, I think it has gone shockingly unnoticed what a wonderful and heartwarming addition Kristina Cook and Miners Frolic make to the 2012 British team. We hear lots about WFP. There is always primetime news surrounding Zara. And, Mary King is well-documented in a number of media outlets for her undeniable prowess as a stalwart member of many international and Olympic Team GBs. But, I don't think enough has been said of Tina. Now, she's no sentimental underdog; they earned their spot on this team due to a solid resume that includes team and individual bronze in Beijing, they were the European champions in 2009, and they most recently won team gold in 2010 at WEG. She and "Henry" have a dynamic history and an inspirational story. Much has been written and said lately of Boyd and Neville (understandably so), and many were heartbroken to see that Neville just wasn't ready for London this go around. I feel that, if you want a comeback story to root for this summer, look no farther than Tina and Miners Frolic. 

Tina has a long, successful history as an eventer, going back to her days as a junior rider for Great Britain. Jump riding is in her blood, as her father and brother both excelled in the sport of steeplechasing. But, of course, it is her time with Henry over the past 6 or 7 years that has made her an international star. However, their road together hasn't been all free and easy. 

At Badminton in 2005, Tina "came a'cropper" (as her fellow countrymen like to say) from Captain Christy at fence #25, an upright gate out of the Huntsman's Close. She was airlifted to a nearby hospital, with fractures to several vertebrae in her back, a very scary situation for any rider, as we all know. Tina made a strong and remarkable comeback to ride for Britain on Miners Frolic three years later at the Olympics, making them a frequent choice when it came to eventing team "go-to" riders. Unfortunately, Badminton hasn't been kind to Tina, as she fell from Henry there in 2010 at the water on cross-country, and Henry suffered an injury to his whithers that prevented him from competing in 2011. Tragically, in mid 2011 -- just nine months after winning team gold in Lexington -- Henry became ill with a life-threatening combination of colitis and endotoxemia (due to a bad reaction to an antibiotic used to treat his whither injury). While his condition was critical for a period of time, he slowly recovered and fully regained his health and strength. He didn't merely survive, he persevered, as he and Tina's 2012 record and their spot on the Olympic team proves. 

Photo by Josh Walker

All horse/rider combinations have their ups and downs. Everyone has a story of adversity overcome, and battles fought and won. But, I think that Kristina and Henry are a special story that warrants notice. In about three-weeks-time, there will be an outstanding collection of eventers to root for in London. Along with my eager support for Team USA, I will be cheering for Tina and Miners Frolic in Greenwich. They have nothing to prove, only a solid performance to provide for their team on their own home turf. Of many pairs you see galloping around in those 3 or 4 days, I would imagine that Tina will not simply be thrilled to represent Team GB for a second time, but will also be savoring every precious moment with her beloved four-legged partner that so easily could have never been.