What does this mean exactly? I was curious too. The good news is I'm a lawyer (knew those skills would come in handy for something!), and I'm used to breaking down overly complicated rule systems into words that actually make sense.
According to the Selection Guidelines, the selection trials are held at the end of this month. They'll take place in Wellington at the conclusion of WEF. Based on how everyone does at the selection trials, the Long List is created. Mclain is already on the list, despite the fact that he won't be participating in the selection trials. Under the guidelines, the Selectors have the discretion to add up to five horse and rider combinations. That discretion is guided by the horse and rider's ability to meet the current standards outlined in the Guidelines, and overall performance and soundness during the 2011/2012 Grand Prix season. No wonder Mclain was a shoe-in.
Next, members of the list will participate in at least two out of four observation trials, which are held in May and June. The trials are as follows:
The Del Mar National Horse ShowAfter the observation trials, the Selectors (consulting with the Chef d'Equipe and the Team Vet), will then recommend a ranked list, known as the FEI Nominated Entries for the Olympics. That list will be a minimum of five rider/horse combinations, or a maximum of twelve riders and twelve horses plus three reserve horses. The nominations are then subject to approval by Show Jumping High Performance Committee, High Performance Working Group, and the USEF Executive Committee. Whew.
Del Mar, California; May 1-6, 2012
Kentucky Spring Horse Show
Lexington, Kentucky; May 8-13, 2012
The Devon Horse Show
Devon, Pennsylvania; May 29-June 2, 2012
Calgary, Alberta Canada; June 13-17, 2012
Once at the Olympics, the four horse and rider combinations that will actually compete are then selected. My fingers are crossed that Mclain and everyone's favorite chestnut mare will be part of the chosen few!
Mclain has announced that he expects to be back in the ring at Devon, which is very exciting news for this particular little Ward fan, since I may try to swing on down to Devon for the event. HJU shared the story and a great video interview that Mclain did for Horse First Ltd.
Even if Mclain faces some unforeseen setback, there's still good news. There's additional room for discretion under the Guidelines, and a rider (or horse) who has a medical, veterinary, or family emergency and cannot participate in the observation trials can ask for special consideration.
What's that saying? Where there's a will, there's a way? Let's go Team USA!