Canada’s Olympic equestrian team has horse disqualified; Officials accused of “destroying Tiffany’s dream.”

Canada's Olympic equestrian team will be short-handed, or rather short-hoofed, in the second round of the jumping finals on Monday.

That was also the case before today's first round, after Tiffany Foster was denied a chance to ride in the Olympics, due to her horse, Victor, being deemed unable to perform by veterinarians. Victor was seen to have a cut above a front hoof, as well as an increased temperature in the area of the nick, and that is not allowed as, oddly enough, an injured horse might have an advantage in the world of show jumping.

Despite the setback, Canada moved ahead to round two, with a chance at a medal, on Monday. But they'll be fighting an uphill battle against teams that come in with a full complement of horses and riders.

It's a disadvantage in that, teams with four combinations of horse and rider, are allowed to have the lowest of their scores dropped. With three, all scores will be counted.

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Olympic officials examined Victor, and decided that he was unable to perform due to a leg injury. In a statement, the Federation Equestre Internationale, the body that governs equestrian events at the Olympics, said:

"The Veterinary Commission have stated that the horse has an area of inflammation and sensitivity on the left forelimb just above the hoof. There is no accusation of malpractice, but the horse has been deemed unfit to compete by the Ground Jury."

Foster, reportedly, was inconsolable, as she was led away by teammates after the decision was rendered.

In her first Olympics, she had a number of obstacles to overcome in order to compete, includng recovering from a broken back, suffered just before the Beijing Games in 2008. Unable to ride for a full 6 months, London marked a chance for her to fulfill her dream.

Deeming Victor unfit for competition is a controversial decision, at least as far as the Canadians are concerned, and they've filed a protest with the FEI, although that seems pointless, since a decision like this is not subject to being overturned.

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Team captain Eric Lamaze teed off on the judges, saying they were "destroying Tiffany's dream."

He further described what he thought was utter nonsense, to the BBC:

"The horse was only sensitive on that cut, which is normal, but it was not something that could put him in danger of jumping and it was not something that was going to make him gain an advantage in jumping."

A horse with a slight injury or sensitivity in its front legs can give its rider an advantage in that, it may be more sensitive to rubs of the rails, and therefore not that likely to want to go at all lazily over a jump.

This is a serious concern in the world of show jumping.

At the Beijing Games, there were cases of a chili pepper-like substance being used on horses, to make them a little more sensitive to pain. From Reuters:

Four of the 2008 cases involved a single substance - a chilli pepper derivative called capsaicin that can create hypersensitivity and also have a numbing effect.

A horse with a hyper-sensitizing substance on its legs would feel extraordinary pain if it knocked a pole and would therefore jump much more carefully.

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The Canadians are well aware of that. However, team captain Terrance Miller believes the application of the rules has not been done fairly in this case, with the FEI admitting it sees no evidence of the horse being doped, but rather, developing the sensitivity naturally. Again, from BBC:

"We are very, very unhappy with the decision. It lacks any perspective or commonsense. The horse has a little nick that any normal horse could have had by being out riding. The cut could have happened on a rail or in the stall, or anything. The rule was put in to protect the horses, but this is just a blind application of a rule without any commonsense at all."

Canada's team is now down to Lamaze and his horse Derly Chin de Muze, Jill Henselwood on George, and 65 year old Ian Miller, competing in his 10th Olympics, atop Star Power. If they're looking for inspiration, they need only to look to Beijing, where rider Mac Cone and his horse were disqualified, and Canada still scored silver with three entries.

The Canadians stand 6th after round one.

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