The media was treated to a first on opening day of the Spruce Meadows Masters as Eric Lamaze invited reporters back to the Canadian stable area to meet the two horses that he will be riding this week: his Olympic mount Derly Chin De Muze and Coriana Van Klapscheut.
Lamaze, from Schomberg, Ont., praised the grooms and managers that take care of his horses and closely monitor their behavior and keep them in top, competitive performance. Lamaze likened them to an auto racing "pit crew."
During the stable tour, lots of questions came up regarding his Olympic performance. Lamaze admitted that Derly was a little scared after the North American Tournament at Spruce. But he went back and did some rebuilding with the young mare and she didn't disappoint.
"She came away from the Olympics a better horse," he said.
Lamaze was thrilled with Team Canada finishing fifth overall at the London Games, which he described as "unbelievable" given that Canada started off as a four-rider team that got quickly dropped down to three. This led nicely into Lamaze speaking about the disqualification of his student, Tiffany Foster, and her horse, Victor, from competing after failing the hypersensitivity test.
Lamaze admitted he was very emotional and personally touched by this decision because of his involvement with Foster. He feels very strongly that things need to change, while keeping the sport clean and fair. Lamaze is part of the International Riders group and he feels there needs to be a change and some work to be done so it doesn't happen again. Days following Foster's disqualification, Lamaze threatened not to ride for Canada in upcoming team competition if Equine Canada, the national governing body for equestrian, did not take a stand and ask for a review of the testing.
'No signs of lameness'
To that end, Equine Canada has requested its sport council create a hypersensitivity task force. The objective of the task force will be to review the FEI's protocol for thermography and clinical examination (hypersensitivity of legs) to see if the protocol and its applications are achieving the intended outcome in an equitable and effective manner.
Dr. Sylvie Surprenant, the veterinarian who travels with team Canada and was present in London when Foster and Victor were eliminated, said: "In our opinion, the horse was fit to compete as he showed no signs of lameness. However, the FEI hypersensitivity protocol is such that if the horse is sensitive to the tough, regardless the cause, the horse is disqualified. While the FEI rules for the hypersensitivity protocol were followed, we believe there should be a review to this protocol."
Added Equine Canada president Mike Gallagher: "Equine Canada looks forward to presenting our recommendations to the international community for consultation and discussion and to work globally with the FEI toward improving the hypersensitivity protocol and its goal to protect horse welfare and fair play."
Lamaze said Foster is doing well and his advice to her was to "put it in the past and go on." Foster is here at Spruce this week and will perform for Canada, beginning Saturday with the BMO Nations Cup (Bold, 4 p.m. ET, CBCSports.ca, CBC local, 8 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. AT).
The media's morning spent with Lamaze finished up by following him into the impressive International Ring to walk the course that he would compete on later in the day. He shared much knowledge and insight into the options and tests that the course designer can offer.