Friday, October 19, 2012

Horses on the Brain

Greetings again from sunny Riga! Despite some awful jetlag troubles (was I awake last night from midnight to 7am? Why yes. yes I was), I've been loving visiting Latvia. I didn't have massive expectations either way, as I honestly didn't know much about Latvia and have visited very few of the former Soviet states, but I've fond the city to be absolutely lovely: small and walkable, with great architecture and a not-overly-touristy vibe. I wouldn't say there are massive amounts of famous attractions to go to, but since my vision of a good day in a foreign country is street-wandering and maybe sitting in a nice cafe from time to time, this dearth of big sights doesn't bother me in the slightest.

Of course, in classic fashion, however, it's been hard for me to fully enjoy myself without horses. I found not one, but THREE (!!!) equestrian magazines in the tiny newspaper stand I went to on my layover in Frankfurt (god bless those horse-loving Germans) and obviously had to have them all. My German is atrocious (I can pretty much say: "Ich liebe Pferde" (that would be "I love horses") and that's it) so they've mostly been picture books for me, but I've still found them to be a really cool insight into the horse world in another country.

All three of the magazines I bought, despite being October editions, were still dutifully recapping the Olympics and discussing the plan for 2016--pretty amazing, given that Germany did really well! Meanwhile in the US, though we were thoroughly trounced in all three Olympic disciplines, the analysis seems to have been some directly after-the-fact whinging and hair-pulling in August that has pretty much died away to nothing already. I would think that spending a little more time trying to plan for the future would probably benefit the losers even more than it would the winners, unless we want to find ourselves even further behind the times by Rio...

There was also a huge emphasis on bloodlines and breeding, with big breakdowns of the sire lines that were successful at the Games and various national championships. I don't think we do anything like that regularly in the US, so it was very interesting to see it so prominently featured in all three magazines I purchased.

(Also, it was pretty shocking to see a bare-headed rider on the cover of a magazine (the bottom of these three) -- some editor would surely be shot if that occurred in the US -- but that was more to be expected, given my understanding of the state of the helmet debate abroad versus at home.)

I have two more days in Latvia before heading home -- knowing my luck, that will be just enough time to get over jetlag here, so that I can fully experience it going the other way again!


L.Williams said...

The bloodline thing I find really unsurprising considering we don't have any big, long traditioned studbooks here (other than Jockey Club and Bloodhorse is all over that) and that we're really a big Importer of horses, not exporter (unless once more you count Thoroughbreds which we don't use on a large scale anymore for Olympic Disciplines except maybe sometimes 3Day but even they are going more down the Warmblood path)

Niamh said...

I think Eventing Nation just did a quick piece about ISH bloodlines. Pretty interesting stuff, but I'd love to know much more about it. ps. I love that you used the word "whinging" -- it's one of my favorites.

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