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C’est la vie -Normandy – Why should the eventers be better off?

Now the eventing riders have turned their back on Normandy.  And probably they haven’t even looked back once. In the end you can be glad that the horses – with the exception of the tragic incident concerning Harry Meade and two horses which had been withdrawn in advance – trotted lively again after the exhausting cross-country the following day. This could not be taken for granted. But apart from a resounding final in the stadium D’Ornano including an ear-battering French audience people will remember numerous strange stories around the eventing riders. Just remember the accommodation which rather resembled dog boxes, the prescribed diet food and official obstacle stewards who obviously were not at all familiar with their task. You can hardly believe it (our neck muscles are growing stronger as a result of the permanent head shaking) but a rider from Poland encountered a clueless judge shrugging his shoulders when he asked him which way to take after his horse had refused the water. Time was constantly passing by until the audience shouted which possibilities he has to continue. Well, of course the rider could have prepared better. And yet, what about a judge who apparently had no clue?

And there were a couple of other situations where the officials seemed to be very clueless. While Ingrid Klimke was riding with Escada, the live-scoring displayed a refusal at the second water (and yet in this context we have to appreciate that there were always digital little horses galloping at the corresponding obstacle number whenever there was someone riding). We have to admit that it may happen that a situation is not immediately recognized. And at some point the minus points had been effaced. Ingrid Klimke this is something everybody could see had directly changed her mind after the bad jump into the water and thus not approached the next obstacle. This actually should have been clear for everyone.  And yet, after the cross-country had long been finished and the riders were slowly assembling for the press conference, it was announced that Great Britain was leading. Ingrid Klimke’s refusal had been counted. Chris Bartle, the assistant federal coach of the German team, had been informed by Uta Helkenberg, a FN employee. He had not known before either. The monitors showed that Germany was leading whereas the list of results in the internet declared England the winner. It took ages but then this affair had been arranged as well.

What was also nice: Andreas Ostholt, who arrived smiling and completely enthousiastic in the goal after a clear round, learned in the mixed zone that he had been eliminated. “I don’t know about anything”, said the German rider and couldn’t believe it. “No one has told me about anything. I couldn’t remember, where anything should have went wrong.” For 30 minutes the rider was out of the ranking Then he was allowed to smile again. Exactly the same thing happened to a Dutch rider. As if there would not have been enough tenison anyway…

But what was not funny at all in contrast was the fact that the horses were not allowed to return to the stables after the vet check in the morning. For some horses this would have meant waiting for more than an hour without being cared for. It was only due to sharp criticism issued by Andrew Nicholson that people changed their mind. But even later on some horses still had to wait unnecessarily long in a queue until the transport started. As Michael Jung, the new team world champion, put it:”A pretty weak performance for a world championship.” That’s really a pity.