Search This Blog

Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympics, Here We Come!

What are your favorite Olympic equestrian memories?

My most favorite event that I've seen on TV* is the Grand Prix Show Jumping jumpoff in Los Angeles, 1984. It came down to Touch of Class, ridden by Joe Fargis, and Abdullah, piloted by Conrad Homfeld. I remember screaming myself hoarse watching this, beside myself with excitement.

I simply adored that little TB mare and her gangly rider whose feet nearly hung under her belly. Just seeing these photos is enough to bring tears to my eyes. What heart she had! I was thrilled beyond belief when they managed to win gold. She was inducted into the United States Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 2000 before passing away in 2001. I was sorry to learn recently that in her retirement she lived at a farm in Franklin, TN, right outside of Nashville. At the time I lived no more than a half hour away... if only I'd known. I would love to have met her.

I was also in awe of Joe and Touch of Class's main competition:
Let me point out the equitation Mr. Homfeld is demonstrating here. Unbelievable - most of us don't look this good over a 2' jump, never mind an Olympic-size GP fence. Dude could RIDE. And Joe Fargis isn't half-bad, either! 
Abdullah, a magnifient Trakehner stallion, was inducted into the United States Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 2009. He has left an outstanding legacy, having sired no fewer than seven USEF Horses of the Year in H/J. Thanks to frozen semen, it's still possible to breed to him even though he died of colic in 2000.

Here's a fun fact I just learned: at one point in her career, Touch of Class was ridden by Conrad, and at one point in his career, Abdullah was ridden by Joe. So both riders certainly were familiar with the competition!

The other Olympic moment I'll never forget occurred during the Show Jumping phase of 3-Day Eventing in Sydney, 2000. I wanted David O'Connor and Custom Made (Tailor) to win SO badly! They looked like they were going to do just that, and then... David momentarily forgot the course. I, along with the 3,000,000 other people watching, about had a heart attack. NOOOOOO, David, don't blow it just like some Adult Ammy on course at a schooling show! (Not that I would know anything about that sort of thing, haha) Thank God "something" kicked in and he remembered in the nick of time to turn towards the correct fence - maybe the crowd shouting helpfully at him?

I loved David all the more for his all-too-human boo-boo. And Tailor, well, that horse was something else. Rolex, Badminton, Fair Hill, the Olympics - he won 'em all. Truly a superstar in the eventing world!
I will be glued to the equestrian coverage on the various NBC channels, as much of it as I can find, and/or watching streaming coverage on my iPad (if I can come up with our cable provider "username, password and login." Huh?) Apparently some of the Olympics is supposed to show up on YouTube or Hulu, too. I'm hoping that due to the presence of Zara Phillips/the Royal connection they might show a little more Equestrian than usual.

(Though, I must say I don't particularly care for that young lady. My already somewhat negative impression of her was boosted by her snotty reply to a reporter who asked if her family has given her words of encouragement. "Do you think I would tell you that?" was her snippy answer. Excuse me? You can't just beam and say, "Oh, yes, Granny has always been very supportive, and of course my mum and dad have done all this before so their experience will come in handy." I hope the other Royals - Will, Kate and Harry are all going to watch equestrian competitions - are a bit more forthcoming.)

I'm headed home now to watch the Opening Ceremonies. I read there was supposed to be a kind of bucolic farm scene with lots of animals involved, so you know there is potential for humorous mayhem. No matter how well they've prepared, they're still animals, and we may have the opportunity to find out just how far you can push a "bomb-proof" horse before it kicks up its heels and departs the Olympic stadium post-haste!

*Next week I'll write about the one time I've been to the Olympics in person, which was Atlanta. 2006. It was awesome!


  1. Not bragging or anything but I was THERE in the stands back in 1984 when Joe and Touch of Class won the gold!


  2. It's very hard to find the coverage on TV. And, then, with commercials, you miss parts of the rides anyway. Very frustrating. I'll be watching as much of it as I can. Caught some of the dressage today.

  3. Hello! I'm new to your blog and I enjoyed this post very much! My very favorite was the 1988 Seoul Olympics where Greg Best and Gem Twist won 2 silver medals. They were my heroes growing up (and still are)! I had a chance to go to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, but my baby boy was due on June 14, so I opted to stay home. He arrived on June 19! Sure would have been awesome to have been there in person though! Looking forward to your post about it and hearing about the London games!

  4. Next Olympic games, cloned horses may well be included. So horses from the past may compete in the future.

  5. Buckpony, I'm sorry I didn't follow up with more Olympic commentary. What happened is I got really busy over on the COTH board for the Olympics and put all my thoughts down there. I use the same name on COTH as here so if you are interested you can find me...

    My most favorite thing was watching the Brits win Showjumping. I was absolutely THRILLED to bits for them, as much as I would have been if we'd won. What a great event for the Home Team!


Thank you for your comment!