Happy 2016! Before we get to January’s mid-month ‘equator’ and it becomes too late to talk about 2015, here is my annual best-worst-most-least-etc list for the past year:

Best sporting moment for Canada – even though the Show Jumpers won Pan Am team gold and Jessica Phoenix won silver individually in Eventing, I am declaring the entire  Canadian Dressage team’s results the sport highlight of 2015. Where the jumpers fell off – way off – the podium in the individual competition, and the eventers lost a silver team medal to Brazil, our dressagers just kept delivering the record breaking performances right through to the last freestyle. Which of course makes it all the more obvious that Canada should have received a Rio team qualification in Toronto last summer (the FEI’s decision to take the qualification away was on my ‘worst of 2013’ list).

Least Unbiased Reporting  (also candidate for Most Biased Reporting)Chronicle of the Horse. Examples too numerous to list but let’s start with the fact that the entire WEF (and Global Dressage Festival bien sur) are now hosted on CoTH’s own website. So much for the arm’s length Sr. B swore he was going to keep between his businesses and CoTH when he bought the mag a couple of years ago. Even Chorizo’s arm is longer than the space between CoTH and the Grand Empire of Sr. B.

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Best Action taken by the FEI – to expel the UAE federation from membership due to appalling failure to follow the rules or apply a shred of humanity toward the treatment of endurance horses.

Worst Action taken by the FEI – to let the UAE back in even though to date there is only evidence that things are getting worse and not better in UAE endurance.

Least Improved Transparency (may also qualify as Most Unimproved Transparency) – EC, of course. Our dear federation is very close to being honoured with a lifetime achievement award for this. I’ve promised not to harp on any more about the ‘secret criteria’, so let me drum up a couple of examples of the veil of ignorance cast over members this past year. Perhaps the most striking is the fact that it’s not at all clear what a ‘member’ is any more. The new bylaws define three categories of ‘members’ as follows:

‘EQUINE CANADA has three (3) categories of membership to be designated as Category A (Equestrian Sports), Category B (Provincial and Territorial Sport Organizations) and Category C (National Equine Organizations). Each category is authorized to designate nine (9) delegates to be Members and each Member shall be entitled to one vote.’

According to this wording, I am no longer a member of EC because the only members will be the 27 (9 x 3) delegates ‘designated’ to vote on each category’s behalf. So the categories are the members? This wording is strange and unsettling, but since I voted for these bylaws I guess I’m stuck with it, as are all of you – even those 89,500 or so of you who couldn’t be bothered exercising this final opportunity to cast a vote (an unofficial but reliable source told me that there were only 500 votes cast on the bylaws in August – EC’s own press release pointedly didn’t contain any stats on how many people voted).  But who ARE these nine people per category, and who is picking them out? Have they been picked already? If not, then who in the heck is going to vote at the EC convention this year? Are we in  zero-member limbo? I could have sent an email to EC CEO Eva Havaris to ask for a little clarity, but why should I have to? We have heard absolutely not a whisper about any of this since the bylaws were rubber stamped by Industry Canada in October.

And here’s another bit of wand-waving magic that you may not be aware of: there are no longer any discipline committees, or EC committees of any kind for that matter. They went up in a puff of smoke at the stroke of midnight on December 31st (another bylaw event that could have done with a little explanation – say, before the bylaw vote took place).  The committee members themselves were informed of their redundancy before their involuntary vanishing act; I know at least some of them were invited to remain engaged and keep on helping in some as-yet-undetermined faculty going forward. To which at least a few long-time occupants of the volunteer trenches expressed feelings ranging from disgust to outrage to exasperation. I could go on. I wonder when EC will. Go on, that is, to inform the people paying for everything (us rubes formerly known as members) what the fark is going to happen next.

Here is another example of EC’s persistence in keeping us in the dark a la mushroom treatment. I’m willing to bet you will be peeling your eyebrows off the ceiling to learn that EC is in the process of conducting a survey in its latest project, to re-brand. The reason you would be surprised is because there is no evidence (either in my inbox or by Googling ‘Equine Canada survey’) that this is happening, other than a link I was sent by someone who somehow managed to be on an apparently exclusive list of people to receive an email stating the following: ‘Equine Canada is in the process of re-branding.  A 3 question survey has been developed, the survey takes less than 1 min and knowledge of the horse industry is not required.’ (yes, that’s right. Whoever wrote it couldn’t be bothered typing the entire word ‘minute’) A link to the survey was also included in this disembodied-sounding missive.

Here are the three simple questions in the survey:

  1. Do you know what “equine” means (without looking it up)?
  2. Do you know what “equestrian” means (without looking it up)?
  3. Do you have horses or are you involved with the horse industry in any way?

Whoever wrote these questions seems to have an exceptionally poor grasp of what knowing what a word means, means. Why would anyone taking the survey think that they should run and look up the word and then respond in the affirmative? I’d like to know who decided EC needs re-branding, anyway. Something tells me it’s someone who has neither been around a long time, nor asked anyone who HAS been around a long time for advice, or even perspective.

Starting in the 1960’s our federation has been known variously and plurally as (take a deep breath if you are reading aloud): National Equestrian Federation of Canada, Canadian Horse Council, Canadian Horse Shows Association, Canadian Equestrian Federation, Canadian Equestrian Team, and of course Equine Canada (the only national federation in the FEI with no reference to sport – as in ‘equestrian’ sport – in its name. Even the FEI’s newest member, Angola, manages that)

EC could get 2016 off on a good foot by immediately answering all the questions raised in this long-winded entry, not just to me – but to everyone in the ‘category’ of ‘members’.

Most Worstest Thing of All – that the name Donald Trump is associated in any way with equestrian sport.

Next, my crystal ball post with predictions on The Year That Will Be.

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