|Nonconformist: Dressage announcer Pedro Cebulka at the veterinary inspection. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
So early, in fact, that announcer Pedro Cebulka's hair was still in curlers.
After all, the opening ceremony ran pretty late last night, and with the enormous traffic jam outside the Stade D'Ornano and the pervasive shuttle snafu that stranded many of us journalists curbside for an hour or more, we all didn't get to bed until the wee hours.
Hey, who says a dressage veterinary inspection has to be a staid affair? Not Cebulka, a well-known equestrian emcee here in Europe who's loved by competitors and spectators alike for his flamboyant costumes and his effortless, entertaining way of keeping events on track.
Apparently Cebulka often dons wacky outfits -- spangles, crazy hats, that sort of getup. Here at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, however, officials are given uniforms to wear. But evidently no one banned wigs, and so Cebulka donned one festooned with pink curlers, just because.
|A chilly morning made for some extraordinary displays of equine athletics. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
The multilingual Cebulka, who currently calls Canada home, has the gift of improv. When one of several dressage horses became fractious during the jog, he quipped to the officials: "Please step back against the rail. But if you have insurance, stay where you are." Another time, during a horse's airborne antics: "Horses, please control your riders."
The goofy wig and the patter couldn't conceal the importance of the veterinary inspection, however. It is during this in-hand "jog" or "trot-up" that the appointed veterinary panel watches each horse trot and decides whether it is fit to compete. And not all always are. One horse, Donpetro HL, ridden by Natalya Yurkovich of Kazakhstan, was held, re-presented, and eliminated.
|Valegro and Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
Such a fate did not befall any of the better-known WEG dressage contenders, fortunately, including all of Team USA: Legolas 92 (Steffen Peters), Wizard (Adrienne Lyle), Calecto V (Tina Konyot), and Verdades (Laura Graves). Although several top horses were withdrawn just days ago (click here for my report), there were no more changes today to the German or Dutch teams. Great Britain's squad, including Valego, the reigning Olympic champion, is likewise intact.
|International-competition newcomers Laura Graves and Verdades are at their first World Equestrian Games. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
|US dressage chef d'equipe Robert Dover guides Calecto V through the turn during the veterinary inspection. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.|
Tina Konyot and Calecto V will be first to ride for the US: tomorrow (Monday) at 9:35 a.m. local time, which is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time for those of you tuning in via FEI TV (sorry, there's no free live-streaming). Adrienne Lyle and Wizard ride at 3:24 p.m.
Laura Graves on Verdades and Steffen Peters on Legolas 92 go Tuesday at 10:09 a.m. and 3:45 p.m., respectively.