Friday, 4 March 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful.....(and one or two to groan about)

Spring Is Here | Time to Unwrap Badminton
The first week of March brings more promise, inspiration and a buzz back to my life. I feel like a sleepy bear awakening from slumber, but probably look more like a hedgehog!

The UK eventing season is imminent and I'm champing at the bit! And apart from the re-insurgence of exchanging blows views with Mark Phillips, albeit via his column in Horse & Hound and my blog, due to the sheer volume of air miles we are collectively racking up, this first week of March sees two other great milestones.

Badminton Horse Trials entries have closed, and that means we'll very shortly know the extent of the foreign invasion beach-heading in Gloucestershire in preparation for London 2012. The second great milestone is the launch of Apple's iPad 2, a major leap forward from the first iteration and very nearly perfect as a laptop replacement.

 Penalties For Breaking A Frangible Pin
But first let's groan again! I've talked before about the Frangible Pin saga, and 'awarding' points for riders that break them. Now, I fully understand the concept of 'making riders more conscientious' on the cross country, but "frangible pin technology" has no international or even national standard as yet, so it's very hard to justify penalising riders when there are too many variables outside of their control that can affect outcome, like manufacturing defect or design, and personally I don't think the polystyrene logs cut it. For me this also brings an air of subjectivity to the cross country phase that is unwelcome.

GWC | Needs A Tidy Up
Well anyway, enough of that. The season is about to get underway, and whilst I haven't got the foggyest where it starts (Islelam or Twesledown probably), it's exciting, because there'll be much more chatter about the sport from now on, and more importantly there'll be cross country action!

With a plenty of wet weather recently our yard has been full to the gills with cross country schoolers, as we're one of the few places that can stay open at this time of year. This brings an air of urgency and a buzz around the place as folk get excited and tell all about their plan for the season ahead.

My own horse is looking a little scruffy and dirty, other commitments have meant I've not had a chance to ride much this year either, but I'm hoping that is about to change, albeit just snatching fleeting moments in the saddle in between transatlantic flights.

The Badminton Cross Country Course
Badminton entries are closed and I have been saying for some time now that I expected it to be a big international crowd making up the start list, what with the Olympics being only a year away and held here in London.

The Canadian's have made no secret of their intention to come en-mass, and that must surely mean we'll see a few Americans jump on the same plane across the pond, so I expect to see a few of the US WEG team out to reassure the selectors, that WEG was just a blip.

With a UK coach, and something of a record to put right, the Germans are sure to pitch up with a far few too, as will the New Zealanders I'm sure. There are also very few chances left for anyone just off the selectors radar to get noticed, Badminton being one of them, so I'd expect to see quite a few young hopefuls out to impress! This is a year at Badminton I'm really looking forward to. One thing is 'for sure', the north Americans are going to feel really spoilt, the ground at Badminton is looking superb.

Mr Canada [Left]

The US Coaching position I suppose deserves a mention, although I'm little bored with the excess analysis of who should be on the short list, who should get the job, how the selection process should work, and whether khaki or faun is the in colour for coaching attire! Frankly I'm surprised it's been so public, and something of a political bun fight, and perhaps a sign of what might lay ahead for the successful candidate. 

Whilst I may not agree with Boyd Martin about his mates Phillip & Bobby being the best for the job, the selection process may well need changing, but as with most 'political' issues the only way to change these things is either through the ballot box or hard lobbying, both of which require alternatives to be thought through, not rhetoric banded about.  

Anyway, David [Mr. Canada] O'Connor , is joined in the short-list by none other than Leslie Law, a line up that surprises me, as I haven't worked out the logic behind it yet. Personally I think David should have resigned from the USEF before announcing his candidacy to avoid any inference of influence [don't read that too quickly!]. For a stack of analysis on the subject "Go Reading" over at Eventing Nation, where you'll also find a couple of good interviews from Samantha Clark, with the short listers.

And so to my other indulgence, technology! It's been a long time since I got really fired up by some gadget, but I have been waiting with much anticipation for the iPad2, and I have to say wow!

I know it still doesn't do a number of things that a bunch of city dwelling, self professed technology analysts want, but those are all hardware limitations, so, like everything else, we'll have to wait for things to become smaller, lighter, and more energy efficient to get  a better screen and a tinted gearbox, wocka, wocka!

For me, as a device that I can take travelling on business, to an event for blogging, or the cafe for my Sunday morning breakfast read, it's damn near perfect. I can download pictures from my cameras (still or video), edit them, upload them and edit my blog. My one disappointment so far is the lack of MS Word, Excel & Powerpoint, which are sadly superior to Apple's native equivalent, but I can possibly live with that. Once again, my mate, Jony Ive, has pulled a rabbit out of the hat!

Well Done Jony!

More video interviews next week, and if I can get to London this weekend, a little sumting special before hand.  stay tuned...


Boyd Martin is unhappy!

Boyd should buy an iPad 2

Eventing Nation

David O'Connor Interview

Leslie Law Interview

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