24 August 2010

Just When Things Had Gotten So Dull. . .

So dull, in fact, that we had to start some online shenanigans with Eventing Nation to entertain ourselves since HRH has been on her best behavior, the Youth Olympic Games have been a smashing success (did anyone notice?), and so on. . .rollkur's back!

Hoefslag reported today that Eurodressage's Astrid Appels has been sued by Anky van Grunsven. Gee, who saw that coming? This over a photo of Salinero accompanied by the text "Horse in the rollkur, hyperflexed position," which wouldn't seem to be a problem except that it was done in context with reporting the news of the FEI's redefinition of rollkur/ hyperflexion as something very bad that you're not allowed to do, and not a position but a technique used to obtain a position (which is something that would have to be adjudicated). I knew this was going to be a legal issue at some point but expected it to be an Internet-public problem, because I would think the real media would know better. Once rollkur/ hyperflexion was redefined (cue laughter), it would seem you can no longer throw those words around in statements of fact (vs. opinion) in relation to what a given rider is doing without risk of a defamation charge. I think this should go without saying, so put me on Team Anky for this round. Not in the sense of "Yeah, sue her ass!!!" or anything like that, I think it's a shame, especially because there are times when Astrid is the one person who will say what needs saying and I applaud that characteristic generally. It's just that you can make the same point in an editorial context rather than editorializing the news.

Horsetalk has the first English article about it, which quotes horses.nl as reiterating the confusion of LDR with rollkur/hyperflexion as being at issue. Naturally there is a tremendous amount of BS involved in all this, but from a legal perspective, I think this small point is valid, and if someone came to me with that particular legal argument, I think I would readily concede them that point. But then I don't really have a 'side,' so I have no emotion wrapped up in it. It's sort of like if someone gets done for medication, and you go writing that they got done for doping. Not smart. Legally that's two very different things under FEI rules (and that legal distinction is now four years old). In an update, a reader noted Wednesday that the photo alone, sans caption, might well have resulted in a suit as well, which I hadn't thought of but is a good point. In that case I think the use of the photo alone, without a statement of fact when the governing body just changed the facts du jour, is no problem at all and I would fully support her in using it to accompany the FEI press release in question.

I don't understand much Dutch, but some things need no translation, like "een superbitch" and "die Duitse journalisten maffia," terms of endearment Dr. Appels claims (in response to the suit) to have received from Sjef Janssen via email. What this has to do with the content of the suit I fail to see, but of course it does nothing to flatter the plaintiff. In any case Mr. Janssen apparently denies or does not recall having said these things to Dr. Appels, and if you understand Dutch you can listen to an interview here.

Dutch is a fascinating language, with wonderful words like "dressuuramazone." It also brought us this gem from the Gerd Heuschmann saga: "'Antirollk├╝rman' zelf niet vies van inbuigen". I don't know exactly what it means but I know I just can't stop laughing over "Antirollkurman."

"It's a bird, it's a plane, it's. . .AntiRollkurMan!!!"  That would make a GREAT xtranormal.com movie.

In other news, comedy is contagious, and dressage people are funny too! (and good sports)
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