UPDATE AUGUST 2008
– Ashley Holzer is indeed competing in the Olympics. From the Dressage Daily
website in March:
Not so many weeks ago, Holzer had taken herself out of the running for the Olympics because Canada had planned to require its riders to compete in Europe prior to heading to Hong Kong. Holzer felt that would be too much travel for Pop Art. After Canada dropped that requirement, Holzer then said she would go to the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong this summer if she qualified.
Good for her for sticking to her guns and getting Canada to drop the stringent requirement!
From the Ecogold website Ashley has arrived in Hong Kong and states : “The team has arrived safe and sound in Hong Kong. The horses all travelled well. It’s hot but the barns are air-conditioned to a very comfortable temperature. The stabling and the footing are top notch! Pop Art is loving this incredible facility. These Games seemed very well organized. The village is not the usual dormitory but a luxury hotel only for athletes. This place is wonderful!”
I have to say, although I love dressage, I just shake my head at some of the things that go on in competition these days. Why have the 2008 Olympic Dressage competition in Hong Kong, at a time of year when cyclones are common and pollution, heat and humidity is horrendous?
Ashley Holzer is one of Canada’s most successful international dressage riders and in the past year has been dominating the dressage world. On Dressage Daily today, in the first show of the year at Wellington:
Ashley Holzer and her own Pop Art rose to the top of the leader boards in the Grand Prix FEI test of choice scoring a whopping 76.250%. Those lucky enough to catch the first ride in the morning were treated to perfection in the pirouettes, and watching a totally harmonious and medal winning ride.
What is disappointing to all of her Canadian fans is that she may choose not to participate in the Olympics. Why? She feels the criteria will be too stressful on her horse
Ashley Holzer, one of Canada’s leading Olympic contenders, is opting out of the 2008 Olympics based on concern that her nation’s Olympic criteria will place too much stress on her horse. In December, Canada announced that members of its 2008 Olympic team would be required to travel to Europe to compete at Rotterdam and Aachen. The horses would then go into quarantine in Europe before shipping to Hong Kong. Holzer said she’s decided competing in Europe before traveling to Hong Kong would be too much stress for Pop Art. Hence, she’s opting out of the Olympics and other Canadian riders may follow.
“I told our Canadian officials that I think it’s just too much stress on my horse. Rotterdam and Aachen are two very tough shows and to add them to the stress of Hong Kong, I just felt is too much for my horse,” Holzer said. “I can respect their decision that this is the best way to prepare the team, but I lost my best horse once before and I know how quickly things can happen. I think Poppy is the most unbelievable horse and I don’t ever want to put him in a stressful situation. He’s just at the beginning of his career.”
Why on earth Canada is putting such stringent guidelines for competing is beyond me. When they qualified for the Seoul Olympics, they flew international judges to Canada, so the riders could be judged at home. Why is it not the case this time? Instead, horses must spend up to 5 months traveling and competing in Europe, not to mention the quarantine and expense involved. And a lot of it is on the riders dime. See Globe and Mail article
I have further found out the the SWISS dressage team has pulled out of the Olympics because of concerns for the well being of their horses.
Although Canada will miss out, I applaud Ashley Holzer’s decision in putting her horse first ahead of ego. If only everyone involved in competitive horse sport thought this way!