Thursday, July 31, 2008

More Horses Arrive Every Day

Hi Everyone,

Things are starting to get busy here in Hong Kong! Most of the dressage and event horses are at the venue as well as quite a few show jumpers. It is amazing seeing so many beautiful horses in one place. The dressage riders have been riding mostly at night as that is when they will be competing. It's really special watching those horses train.

Tomorrow the main arena is going to be open in the morning and at night for everyone to go in and ride for the first time. We've been taking our horses up to the entrance gate so they are somewhat accustomed to the ring. We'll be able to go in again on August 2, and then on August 6 we are going to jump under the lights in the main arena.

All of our Canadian horses are doing great! Yesterday was our first day back into hard training. Toddy (aka Livewire) had an awesome dressage school. I am so excited with how he is going. All of the other team members had good rides yesterday as well, and I think we pleased our devoted coach with our work. David O'Connor is a wonderful help to all of us and we are all greatly appreciative for having him here to coach the Canadian Eventing Team.

We received our team clothing yesterday as well. We all feel that much more unified when we show up at the stables or the Olympic Village now. The clothes all show some Asian influence, which makes them special for this year.

The horses did a jump school and a short gallop today, and they were all super. Dr. Christiana Ober was on hand to monitor how the horses all recovered from their workout. All of the horses temperatures were very good and cooled quickly. We are so thankful to have Dr. Ober here to take care of all of our horses. She is a truly amazing vet, and we are incredibly fortunate to have her knowledge and ability here with us.

The Canadian Dressage Team arrived yesterday, and all of their horses are healthy and well. It is great having so many Canadian horses here and looking down a barn aisle of Canadian tack trunks and flags. Canada is one of only four nations to qualify a team in all three Olympic disciplines for this year's Olympic Games. Go Canada!!!

I am so excited and thankful to be here at the Games. I am even more thankful to have my wonderful partner, Livewire, with me. He is such a special horse, and I am thrilled we are doing our first Olympic Games together. He has a heart of gold and loves his job more than anything. I am happy to see him adapting so well to this new show environment, and I am glad he is enjoying the experience as much as I am.

Thank you so much again for all of your support and well wishes!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Arrived And Settling In Well

Hi Everyone,

We arrived in Hong Kong on July 26 and had great flights. The horses all traveled incredibly well and had a super flight. The attendants at the airport got the horses off the plane and onto the air conditioned horse vans within 20 minutes, and drove the horses to the stables, which are about thirty minutes from the airport. They settled into their stalls happily, and the barns are beautiful with every amenity one could hope for.

The athletes' village is a hotel near to the stables. The hotel is beautiful. We have a 24-hour buffet with wonderful gourmet food. Some of the other athletes came today. All of the German horses are here. There are some people hear from Switzerland and Chile as well.

Now, the horses and the riders have all become settled in here in Hong Kong. We took the horses out for their first ride yesterday, and the horses were all happy to be out. It is a beautiful venue to ride out.

There is an amazing indoor arena that is huge and completely air conditioned. There are misting tents next to every outdoor arena that you can ride right into to give your horse a nice refresher. In the tents there are also huge containers of ice water with hoses attached that you can use to spray the horses down. This will be a big help in cooling the horses down during their rides and before they go into the competition arena. The main venue for the equestrian sports at the Olympic Games is the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The Hong Kong Jockey club spent $170 million dollars in preparation for these Olympic Games, and it is proving to be immensely appreciated. The facility is superb from the wonderful hacking and trotting paths in the infield to the practice cross-country course. A huge thank you goes out to John Ridley, who is head of racing operations here and has played a major role in the success of the venue.

All the quarantine vets and stable managers are incredibly impressed with the super condition all of our horses are in and how well they traveled. They have the best care imaginable. Our grooms are amazing and are doing a truly wonderful job taking care of our horses. I am forever grateful to Stacey Wood who is Livewire's groom. She is incredibly hard working and detail oriented. I am greatly thankful to have her here with Livewire and me.

Since the horses are still just doing quiet work, some of us riders thought we would take the opportunity to go and do some sight-seeing. Yesterday, we went to Kowloon. We are staying in Sha Tin, and it takes about 30 minutes to get to Kowloon which is down by the harbor. We took the star ferry across the harbor to Hong Kong Island. From there, we walked to the Hong Kong Yacht Club, which is a very famous yacht club from when the British were still in power here. We got in small boat and went for a tour around the inlet and into the harbor. After that, we went and just walked around town and saw some amazing things. The number of people here is unbelievable. Everything is so crowded and busy. We went inside a high end car dealership that had a beautiful car for sale for $13 million dollars!!!

We continued to walk around and look at shops as well as some churches and parks before catching a cab and driving up Victoria Peak. Victoria Peak is a mountain that looks right back down on the mainland and the harbor. It is an amazing view. We took the tram back down the mountain and then headed for the star ferry to head back home. It was a great day.

Everyone here says hi to everyone at home! I hope you are all well, and I will write again soon. Thank you all for all of your support, it means so much to me.