The horsey set
While some folks fret about the upcoming U.S. elections in November, I have to admit that my election-fretting energies have been completely diverted to who’s going to win the contest for presidency of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).
Now, just because I have never been on a horse that wasn’t either on rockers or attached to a merry-go-round piston, doesn’t mean I haven’t been actively involved in the goings-on of the FEI.
Princess Leia, I mean, Princess Haya of Jordan, is running for re-election, and, from the get go, I’ve been one of those chanting Four More Years.
After all, Haya is pretty smart cookie. She’s got a degree in politics and economics from Oxford. And she’s a pretty tough cookie: she’s the one and only woman to hold a heavy-duty truck driver’s license in Jordan. Not that she needs the work as a teamster, mind you.
As the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan (and Queen Noor’s step-daughter), and now the junior wife of Sheik Mohammed of Dubai, she doesn’t have to belly up to the parimutuel window and slap down a fiver on the trifecta to come up with her walking around money. (By the way, they don’t call it junior wife for nothing: at 36, Haya’s 25 years his junior. But, hey, everyone knows 61 is the new 31.) Being both a princess and a sheika also affords her the opportunity to be generous: she wrote a $32 million check to FEI so they could spruce up their headquarters in Switzerland. When was the last time a U.S. president tried to underwrite the White House?
Haya’s also an Olympic equestrian. So what if she didn’t medal – in fact she came in 70th. What of it? I defy you to name one Jordanian equestrienne who was more qualified the Haya. There may have been a lot of folks competing with the daughter of the King of Jordan for that spot on the team, but I’ll bet you she won the right fair and square. Plus, it gave Haya a bit of a chance to muck around:
“I was able to interact with levels of society in Jordan that I would have never probably seen in the palace,” she said.
I’m sure that, like every other place, those who go in for dressage represent every strata of society – especially if you include the stable hands and pony boys.
Frankly, the thought of being able to vote for a woman president (rather than against one, as may happen here in 2012) makes me want to jet off to Taipei and cast my vote for Haya. And despite her generosity to the organization, Haya may need that vote. For the first time in FEI history, an incumbent’s being challenged.
Two guys (figures!) – Sven Holmberg and Henk Rottinghuis – have thrown their helmets in the ring.
I haven’t seen the latest polling, so I don’t know who the dark horse is here, but I’m hoping Haya wins by at least a nose.
Although I am intrigued by Henk Rottinghuis’s name – which is kind of hologram-y to me: sometimes I see “rotting house” and other times I see “rocking horse” – one of the biggest reasons why I’m in the Haya camp is because, since it was founded in 1921, most presidents of the org have been royals, including Prince Philip and Infanta Dona Pilar de Borbon. Sven and Henk: nothing but commoners. Ptui! Having democratic elections where nobility always wins. What’s not to like.
I haven’t asked Phil or the Infanta who they’re voting for, but I’m currying ponies with Princess Anne next week, and I’m going to do a bit of gently sniffing around.
reign term hasn’t been without controversy.
She pushed through a measure that would have allowed the use of several controversial drugs for horses. And she has cracked down on cheating in the sport even as she recused herself from a 2009 inquiry involving horses belonging to her husband and one of his sons that had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Sor-ree. She did recuse herself.
Actually, when I speak about voting for Haya, it’s metaphorically, as we’re not talking direct electorate here. Kind of like the U.N., the national federations cast the votes. But I’ll be lobbying our guys, once I figure out who they are.
Source: NY Times.