Olympics, Day 1 Pt. 2


I watched the dressage (dres-aage) runs of a few riders, and I’ve got to say that my memories of equestrian weren’t really updated in much any way, but as I’m a very enthusiastic adherent of obscure sports, I felt a strange need to watch anyway.

For those of you lucky enough to be unfamiliar with dressage, it is the ideological descendent of war-horse excersizes preparing them for various stresses of battle. Of course, if this walk around the pen prepares a horse for any kind of battle it must be a very risk-like affair, with dice being rolled and casualties inflicted only on paper. What dressage actually resembles is a kind of equine dog show. Nonetheless, I shall relate the events as I saw them.

Mark Todd of New Zealand, who the International Equestrian Federation has called the “Rider of the 20th Century” , riding a ghostly gray horse called Gandalf who is known to be lazy at times, walk along the edge of the lightly fenced ring, then down the center line, then around the edge, then down the center, then at diagonals, apparently switching strides. To be honest, at this point Gandalf could take a steaming dump on Mark Todd’s tophat and I’d assume it was part of the event. Apparently, though, it was a great honor for me to be able to watch Mark Todd perform.

Mark Todd, Rider of the 20th century

Mark Todd, Rider of the 20th century

The score was labeled “Penalties 49.40”. I have no idea what that means.

The next dressage rider’s name was Kyle Carter, from Canada, riding 10-year old Madison Park, who is a dude horse despite his rather feminine name, presumably also from Canada. Kyle’s about 95 feet tall and looks as if he’d be more comfortable straddling a nuclear submarine than a horse. The commentators on this box-walk were very insistent that Madison Park was making a lot of “blips”, which I assume must be the technical name for “fuck-ups”. Or is that “fucks-up”? A question for another time.

“Penalties 62.8” I’m starting to guess that a high score is bad.

Peter Thompson of Germany was next up, riding 12-year-old The Ghost of Hammish. Yes, “the” is part of the name, similar to the “a” in “a tribe called quest”.

In dressage, each horse is judged on its stride and precision, as well as it’s ability to, as the commentator said, “engage the hindquarters”, which I assume means that this horse and rider won’t score well because it looks as though either or both of them would benefit greatly from engaging their hindquarters to remove the large, painful sticks wedged therein. It’s surprising to me, then, that this horse and rider are from Germany, which apparently dominates Equestrian as if it (Equestrian) walked into it’s (Germany’s) dungeon and donned the gimp suit.

Penalty 53.10. Here they explain that my earlier deduction was correct. The scoring is like a subjective and even more boring golf.

The next rider was a woman named Amy Tryon from the United States, the Bronze Medalist from the Sydney olymics riding a horse named Poggio II. The story behind the pair is that a friend of Amy’s found Poggio II in the classified ads and bought him, and now she rides him. Thanks, NBC.

According to the commentators, Amy is a very experienced and skilled rider, though according to me the most striking attribute she bears is an uncanny resembleance to Calamity Jane from Deadwood suited up, English-gentleman style.

Poggio II is the only horse to Q for every National Championship over the last six years. Hear that, other horses? Get off your ass.

Penalty 46.50, which moves this horse and rider into first place in the walking-it-around-the-box event, which is apparently a great big deal amongst this quality of competition.

Clayton Fredericks, from Australia, is competing for the Australian team in addition to his Australian wife, also from Australia.

Clayton’s Run was very consistent and smoothe, full of elegant movements from the horse and rider pair. He earns a 37.00 penalty, which, from what I can see is an enormous gap to make up in this event.

Next up is Daisy Dick from Great Britain. She took the place of the former World Champion on the British team when the former World Champion dropped out. As a reserve rider, there are reservations about her reserves of strength and personal determination. The beginning of her ride looks relatively clean, but in the middle of the second around-the-outside-of-the-box thing, Springalong, her horse, came sort of apart. He jumped to a sort of stuttered stop when he was supposed to be trotting smoothely. It’s apparently about the equivalent of the aforementioned dump on the rider’s head, but less messy. The commentators are almost apologetically kind to her and supportive of her situation.


Enough of this horse thing. I turn the channel and look for an interesting sport.