First off, there were 32 clean rounds with no time penalties. 12 riders were eliminated out of the 72 total, including the U.S. rider, Beezie Madden, who was horrible. The mare, Via Volo [Belgian Warmblood] seemed really solid, but it was sloppy riding. Worst ride of the day.
Interestingly enough the Middle East was well represented. The Saudis have a deep team. Prince Abdullah bin Metab Al Saud led off for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Egypt sent a rider, as did Jordan, but he is out, and Syria though burning, sent a rider, a good one, allegedly a relative of Assad. The Syrian was the only rider with a beard. Come to think of it, I don't remember seeing a beard ever in equestrian activities, not even on polo players.
As with Dressage and Eventing, in Show Jumping, Germany has major depth, along with the Netherlands, Great Britain and Belgium and Sweden. The U.S. is ok, but not as good as I think they should be considering we have the facilities and the spare horse flesh and millions of horse crazies. It's true that equestrian activities take deep pockets, but we can do better and should increase opportunity.
All of the Olympics are dominated by European Warmbloods, which are nice but not necessary. They are extremely pricey. There's no requirement that a horse have a pedigree to compete, just ability. Europe's got a nice high-end cottage industry going on with these "Registries". Our U.S. team is all riding these Warmbloods. Most of the riders train in Europe, even the Saudis, Japanese, Chinese and the South Americans. There is something wrong with this picture.
Oh......about the ear hats. Today was windy in Greenwich Park for the first qualifying round. The jumps were high and the nastiest fence seemed to be the triple beside the bridge. Said ear hats descend between the eyes on most horses but aren't tied down and flap up and down with each jump. The whole point of braiding the mane for hunting and jumping is so the forelock doesn't obstruct the horses view of how high and wide the jumps are so they can judge the plant and the take-off. The riders have walked the course, the horses go in cold. It looks prissy to the uninitiated I'm sure. In polo it's all shaved off. Polo horses are hot weather athletes and get a lot of baths, a mane is hot and dries slowly. Race horses have their manes pulled to about 2 inches because when you go that fast, a rider's face gets stung by flowing hair. The ear hat thing gets a thumbs down for jumping.
Reed Kessler, 18, made the senior team for the U.S.. She is on Cylana, a Belgian Warmblood mare. They have been together for just a few months. Reed is the youngest rider in the competition followed by Ahmad Saber Hamcho, 19, for Syria on Wonderboy, a big grey Belgian Warmblood gelding. Reed and Ahmad are tied at 33rd with 6 other riders having gone clean with one penalty for time. The time allowed was 82 seconds for the course. Cylana apparently didn't mind the ear hat flap. [see above]
Going forth we have 60 horses in contention. 32 with clean rounds and no penalties, and 28 with faults/penalties. It's extremely close.
And because I like the greys, France's Kevin Staut on Silvana, 13 y/o KWPN mare, went clean with no time penalties and is tied for 1st with 31 others including Ward McLain and Rich Fellers [heheh, rich fellers, snort!] of the U.S.