Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympics on My Mind

Silk isn’t the least bit interested in the Olympics, but I am. I’ve been following the story of the U.S. Olympic Equestrian team and hoping that they not only perform successfully but also stay safe. As you probably know, the Equestrian games were moved from mainland China because there were too many equine diseases there. After spending about $100 million on improving and building facilities in Hong Kong, the horses and riders arrived.

The concern about the humidity and air quality is huge. There have been record smog levels this summer. The horses were transported in air-conditioned vehicles from the airport to air-conditioned stables. As many of the events as possible will be held indoors. The cross-country course was scaled back from 11 minutes to 8 minutes for the horses’ health. On Wednesday, when the riders and horses were settled in, a typhoon blew through Hong Kong. Fortunately, it cleaned things up and the humidity wasn’t so high.

Today, the U.S. is in third place after yesterday’s dressage competition. Australia is first, followed by Germany. Tomorrow, the cross country will begin. Karen O’Connor is going to wear a bracelet of horsehair from her beloved Teddy when she rides. I keep thinking about how difficult and emotional this time must be for her.

I found two interesting Olympic blogs from the equestrian perspective. One is by Max Corcoran called “Inside the O’Connor Cavalry” the other is by Jennifer Bryant for The

In Max Corcoran’s post on July 28th, when she learns that she will be going to the Olympics with Karen and Mandiba, she writes about how much she loves these horses. Mandiba sounds like a great horse, and I’m sure that Teddy will be watching over them. I think that the Olympics is one of the few times in our world where we are able to witness life's full panorama, from glory to tragedy, in a remarkably short moment. I hope that Karen's and Mandiba’s experience will be all that they dream it will be.


Ewa said...

This is so interesting, that also horses health is concerned.
In general I have very mixed feelings about this olympics, so I am not following.

billie said...

Victoria, check this to be sure, but I'm almost certain Max is a woman.

Victoria Cummings said...

Ewa - I know what you mean - And Billie - you're right - thanks for pointing that out - Max is indeed a woman and I've changed the gender in my post- I was so bleary this morning when I read her website that I didn't notice. Sorry Max! It's a good blog - I'm glad I found it.

billie said...

We're not really following either, although if we had TV I know I'd be tempted to tune in.

I was and remain impressed that the Swiss dressage team pulled out due to concern for their horses in the conditions present in Hong Kong.

Someone on COTH was doing the math this week on how much literal breath would be lost for the event horses on the shortened course in between jumps. Apparently horses do not breathe while jumping, so the distance between each jump is where they have to oxygenate.

I'm in a really bad mood about eventing and horses lately, but that said, I hope everyone in Hong Kong comes through safely.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I haven't been watching it yet, although I did try to find it on TV and get it on my computer. I have been unsuccessful. I think it's not a good venue for the horses or riders, health-wise. I do hope everyone stays safe and have no health issues because of the humidity and smog.

Gecko said...

I've never really been one for following the big names, sure I've been interested but I've found it hard to find out what's going on with everyone. Although today I had the telly on and the cross country came on, stupid really the TV guide doesn't tell you what time it'll be on...just sometime between 11am and 6pm. Yeah, somewhere in there. I was lucky enough to be watching when Shane Rose rode, my favourite rider (for the little that I watch), and he had the fastest ride at that point. It's so vague what they tell us, I don't know how many more were to ride. Not to mention they bearly showed his ride, even the commentators were complaining that they weren't seeing him.

Gecko said...

Oh, and it was also raining when I was watching it, so at least it was a bit better for the horses...although there were people running around in short shorts so my guess is it was probably pretty humid still.

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks, Gecko, for the update from Australia. It's too early here yet to know anything. And those blogs I mention haven't posted anything since August 9th. I'm having the same problems as Grey Horse trying to catch any of the coverage. Billie, I have similar reactions to eventing, which is why I'm so concerned about the safety of the horses and the riders.

billie said...

I should have checked back here last night - there is a live feed via nbc that many people over at COTH were using to watch the cross-country rides. They were reporting play by play for those of us who couldn't quite master the feed. :)

Victoria, I had the same instinct. On one hand I didn't want to be a part of it. On the other, I felt like if I somehow gave it my attention and concern, the good energy might somehow help.

There were a number of falls but as of this morning no reports of serious injuries to riders or horses.

From what the folks watching reported, the course seemed to really tire out both horse and rider, consistently, and the last third was sloppier. Several horses looked quite out of it and disoriented by the end.

It also started raining during the rides so that both cooled things off a bit and made things more slippery.

I guess the issue now is whether they pass inspection to go on to the show jumping phase.

I think I read that the US went from 3rd to 10th following cross-country. Karen O'Connor had a fall, as did Amy T. on Poggio. (that's from memory - will have to check back to make sure that part is right - for sure they didn't have great rides)

Victoria Cummings said...

Thanks for the update, Billie - I did see this morning that Amy fell, but I hadn't heard about Karen. Apparently, even the commentators were having trouble seeing the horses and riders as they were on the course. I'll just feel relieved when this part of the competition is over.

Victoria Cummings said...

Update at 10 am 8/11 - I wasn't able to see the cross country, but I did get these results off the NBC website: Gina Miles & McKinlaigh placed 5th. Phillip Dutton & Connaught places 14th. Rebecca Holder & Courageous Comet placed 48th. Karen O'Connor and Mandiba placed 54th. Amy Tyron fell and didn't place.

deejbrown said...

I will also be relieved when the cross country is over. It seems like formalized cruelty, and for what? It is cousin to my very dark opinions about the horse racing industry.

Callie said...

They haven't shown it on network, but my brother said he'd seen the equestrian event on Oxygen. So I'll look for it there. I have been watching whats on network, anyway. Interesting anyway.