Dressage Event Starts in London

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As someone born and raised in Portland, Oregon, I am used to rain. But this is ridiculous.? Perversely changeable would be a better description of London weather than rainy.? We had a forecast of 20 percent chance of rain.? Make that 20 % chance of 100 % rain.? The day started out with beautiful clear skies, 65 degrees (I think, it being in centigrade).? It was still beautiful when I climbed down from my aerie, leaving colleague Nicole behind working on the main Rafalca story, while I was to interview Jan Ebeling after his ride, followed by Anky von Grunsven,? German ?Dorothee Schneider (she had little English) and the delightful Japanese rider.?

Just after the 71-year-old (!) Japanese rider, uh, oh, sprinkles.? Within a minute it was, to use a term I learned in Australia, p---ing down.? They wouldn?t let us back in the stands because a rider was in the ring.? Finally got back to my spot, where Nicole had pulled sheet plastic over our equipment and paper ?notes.? But our backsides stayed exposed.? We tried to keep working outside but finally gave it up and moved into the media workroom, watching the ring on monitors.? Sure enough, it was sunny again 5 minutes after we had logged back on. Seven hours later when I got back to my room, I was still wet to the skin.? Felt I needed a nice fish-net sheet cover by a wool cooler, but of course I couldn't sneak into the barns to get them.

From what I could see, I thought the judging of the first day of dressage was very consistent, maybe a tad low, but the British star Laura Bechtolsheimer said it was the lowest she?d ever gotten.? Jan was happy with his ride and seemed happy with his score, but I doubt there will be a medal for the U.S.? Our scores overall have improved over the last four years, but I think the rest of the better teams have improved even more.? The interesting question here will be whether Britain can knock Germany off the top of the podium for the first time in over 50 years.

Ann Romney was in the stands with Amy Ebeling (Jan?s wife) and Beth Meyer, who are her co-owners of Rafalca.? They seemed to be hugely enjoying themselves but finally got chased inside by the weather as well.