10 Thoughts on the Short List

Here are a few quick thoughts on the news that David and Leslie have been named as two candidates to make the USEF’s short list:

1) As much as I like Leslie, and as much as I think he is a great candidate to coach a team, the USEF has essentially picked their next eventing coach this morning.  The selection process will continue with equal opportunity given to each candidate, but, on paper, it’s hard to imagine that David won’t get the job.  David’s experience, riding success, and, most importantly, his success with the Canadians make him an overwhelming favorite to get the job in a two-candidate race.  In passing up on the chance to include other very qualified applicants such as Phillip/Bobby, Jimmy, and Andrew, the Search Committee seems to have taken the approach of making a big part of the decision for the Athletes Committee.  If you think that the USEF will pick someone as a first-time international coach over the Canadian WEG silver medal coach, then you must know something I don’t.  But, that’s just my opinion and there is a long way to go in the selection process.

2) David and Leslie share some interesting characteristics that were obviously very important to the Search Committee in putting both of them on the short list.  First, and perhaps most obviously, David and Leslie both live in the US and have knowledge of the US system–it seems the Search Committee was not interested in having another coach who lived outside of the US.  Leslie and David have also had a great deal of individual success at international competitions–both won individual Olympic gold amongst many other accomplishments. 

3) However, David and Leslie do have big differences.  They both competed for very different international programs–David under Jack and then Mark, and Leslie for the powerhouse British Team.  Leslie’s greatest strength as an applicant, in my opinion, is that he has good experience in the US without having been here long enough to make lots of friends and lots of enemies.  He would bring a well educated but also independent perspective to the program, which is what many people are asking for–perhaps from different candidates.

4) Both Leslie and David are great people and coaches.  This might be overlooked in the discussion of the candidates, but the next US coach being a good person with a strong ethical reputation is very important for me and the US program.  Both David and Leslie fit the bill there.  I’d gladly have either of them warm me up for show jumping at the biggest event of my life. 

5) If you missed it on Eventing Nation a few weeks ago, Karen has stated that she would withdraw herself from team competitions and funding if David is selected as the next coach.  That is an important detail in the conflict of interest debate.

6) If you had put a gun to my head a week ago and asked who would make the short list I would have said Phillip/Bobby, David, and a guess at one other candidate.  I think Phillip and Bobby would have been a good choice but it never seemed like the public really got behind their candidacy.  I desperately hope that Bobby and Phillip will be big parts of the US program for many years into the future–Phillip as a rider and Bobby as the High Performance Chairman.  The US program needs Phillip and Bobby to stay involved as much as possible.    

7) I think we are all wondering why Jimmy didn’t make the short list, and I think he should have obviously made the list above Leslie.  Ultimately, we will never know how the applications looked and how the interviews went.  It’s easy to sit back and take shots at the Search Committee for not picking one candidate or another, but ultimately I think the Search Committee was filled with smart people whom I respect, so I respect their decision with the understanding that they had access to a lot more information. 

8) There’s no doubt in my mind that Leslie would have a better chance if Phillip and Bobby had made the short list.  In that situation, Phillip might have split votes with David and a deadlocked Athletes Committee might have been more inclined to go for an independent option.         

9) As we have been reporting, there were 9 applicants for the position.  The USEF interviewed 6 of the candidates, so at least one of those was someone we didn’t know about.  It might never become public who the 4 non-public applicants were, but it’s safe to say that most of the others were less well known European based candidates.

10) The Chronicle has just posted a report on the short list with a quick interview with David.  He told the COTH: “I think my experience is probably a big part of it [having been named to the short list].  I have the experience of producing international riders over the last 10 or 15 years and also the experience of coaching a team and having created a successful program in Canada.” [COTH]

Stay tuned throughout the day for much more about the short list.  Go eventing.



  • Anonymous says:

    John: your bias is showing!

    It is your website and I don’t expect you to be completely impartial, but it is clear that you have personal ties to David and would clearly be your choice.

    Most of us think Jimmy was a better choice and DON’T buy that the committee was privy to information that we would all agree should exclude them. Very handy to take the “committee members know best”. The rest of us call BS on moving Leslie ahead instead of Jimmy.

  • Elaine says:

    Don’t be so sure about that strong ethical reputation. A lot of people don’t seem to trust the OCET as far as they can throw them. See the Parelli connection and the grumblings about poaching horses and owners over the years.

  • Angela says:

    I think that there will be an uproar over the fact that Phillip is not on there. HE HAS PRODEUCED MORE FOUR START HORSES AND RIDERS, MANY THAT HAVE GONE ONTO REPRESENT THE USA,


  • Melissa says:

    I agree Anon. I don’t have a problem at all with John having his favorite…..it is his blog. But the committee members don’t neccessarily know best and there are a LOT of smart people out here with educated opinions. I think that this closed selection process isn’t good. It creates a bad perception of politics….which is difficult to overcome. A more open process lends itself better to getting people to support and get behind who ever is ulitmately choosen more easily…even if it isn’t the person they would have picked.

  • DISGUSTED says:


    The voice and opinion of the riders have absolutely no bearing on who gets picked for the coaching job. Phillip and Bobby have some fantastic idea’s to improve this country. For them not to even make the second round basically means this was an ‘inside’ job.

    This is corruption at the highest level. The search committee should be disgusted with themselves. I hope they can look at themselves in the mirror!

  • John says:

    1. If you have been reading Eventing Nation over the past two months, you know that we are big supporters of Jimmy and I wish he had made the short list. We were the first news site to have the news about Jimmy’s application and we have had two great interviews with him since then. I think there’s no doubt that Jimmy should have made the list over Leslie, and I would have had no idea who to pick between David and Jimmy–you can read that dilemma in my writings about the candidates over the past few months. Jimmy made the process much better by just being involved, and now he might go coach the Canadians and kick our butts. But what’s done is done.

  • RTR says:

    As I see it, David didn’t create the successful program in Canada. Jimmy created it, David continued it and reaped the rewards when it came to fruition.
    And if we are comparing experience, Jimmy’s vs David’s? Seriously?
    FWIW, I hope Leslie gets the job, but the ache in the pit of my stomach says that David already has it. So much for changing the status quo.

  • ridiculous says:

    This is absurd to say that this was an inside job. I have cliniced with Philip. It was a disgrace! It was an insult to have to pay him for his input and coaching. I know all the upper level riders think he’s great but he’s not the icon of who should represent the United States. He has terrible people and communication skills! It’s not JUST about the riding. He can’t communicate and more importantly we need him to ride for the team, not coach! Although, Jim is a terrific coach he’s too old to take the job and stay for many years, unfortunately.

  • Melissa says:

    My issue isn’t with the choice of David or Leslie (or with whomever is John’s favorite ;) My issue is with making the short list just a choice between David or Leslie at this point in the process…..and putting faith in a process that is not transparent and the resulted in the choice from an incredible field of candidates being reduced to just two so early.

  • Matt says:

    Everyone should just stop complaining! It is out of our control. Just enjoy the sport for what it is and not who is coaching our team. I am sure whoever gets the job will do their best. Stop making everything so political.

  • Sarah says:

    I am upset about how many personal attacks have been going on. We were lucky to have so many great applicants to this position. Good luck to whomever is given the job.

  • Tummy says:

    Am I taking crazy pills? I think there are some very obvious reasons why they chose who they chose, just by looking briefly.

    1) Just as John said, they chose an applicant from an American background, and a European background. Leslie was the best European choice because he is living in America and has ties to both sides of the pond. After getting trounced on our home turf by the British, who better to coach than someone who came from that system?

    2) When it came to choosing an American applicant, it seems as though they split the difference in terms of too old (if you are looking for someone to coach the team for the next 3-4 Olympics, Jimmy will be getting up there in years)and too young (I don’t think they are ready to let Phillip quit riding for the team).

    3) I know Jimmy is amazing and everyone loves him, but honestly, he is dated. He hasn’t ridden the modern format, and who has he coached/trained in the past 5-10 years to the 4 star/team level? Observing is one thing, but where is the proof that he can get the job done coaching the team at this level? His work with Canadian team didn’t yield results. David’s did.

  • Mich says:

    The only candidate who has success with an international team is David. Jimmy did not succeed in Canada. The other candidates are unknowns for putting together a team. In business and all other aspects of life, people develop their expertise and success with less prominent companies or teams. Then they are viable candidates for the top companies/teams. David is this candidate. Perhaps if the British, retiring Australian, or New Zeeland coaches had applied, David would have had more competition.

  • PlayerHater says:

    Angela, you undo your own point. DOC had a lot to do with the development of most of these riders that you list as “Philip” students- Jan, Will and Holly all spent an extensive amount of time there.
    RTR- you are clueless. JW did not create the current Canadian system. It was the brainchild of Graeme and became successful b/c of DOC’s effort. JW may not have had the same funding/opportunity that DOC has had, but to suggest that he started the ball rolling is basically 100% wrong.
    Melissa, you make a very fair point. At the end of the selection process, only one coach is going to be selected and supporters of the other candidates are going to be pissed off. It is not a bad thing that there was more than one candidate that people could envision as being the next coach. I do think that Melissa’s point about only letting 2 candidates move forward (and with the 2 that they picked…) leaves much to be desired. Would there really have been that much more expense/difficulty in having 1 or 2 more candidates and allowing the active riders to ask questions with the result that the process would have been more transparent? If PD and JW had moved forward as candidates and it was clear that their plans were not at the level of the other candidates, then I think the USET would have helped themselves by not essentially making the decision before the process ever really gets rolling.

  • Tummy says:

    8. I think that Phillip’s weaknesses in terms of people skills were meant to be compensated by having Bobby taking on the communicator/coordinator responsibilities. Phillip might not have been your cup of tea for coaching, but I think it’s pretty hard to argue against his effectiveness with training upper level riders and horses.

  • Phillip as a clinician says:

    As a LLR who has cliniced with Phillip, I wouldn’t spend the $300 to do it again. He speaks the language of gifted, high-level athletes – not us ammies – when he speaks at all. To his credit, he seemed to recognize his limited abilities in that realm when he teamed up with Bobby. And his results with training URLs can’t be argued with.

    Without reading the applicants’ detailed applications, it’s really hard to say why some people were chosen over others. Regardless, it’s clear that DOC and Leslie are both excellent choices. I would be thrilled with either one.

  • Anonymous says:

    Did anyone notice the mathematical error? Nine applicants total, only six interviewed, but four left? That would make ten…

    Also, using all capitals is unnecessary in any online situation; it only ever comes out as yelling, and no one wants to have someone “yelling” inside their head when reading.

  • Mich says:

    And, there are riders on the search committee; Amy, Kim, and Mike. I am certain they had plenty of input from the A and B list riders along with many others. They are out there riding, teaching, and competing = out with others, and listening to their input. These three riders are 50% of the committee! Add to that 2 of the remaining 3 members, Katie Prudent and George Morris who work with international teams all the time: 33% more of the search committee. You have 83% of the committee who, I guarantee will look for an experienced person to lead the USA team, not someone who will learn on the job. Now I must go back to leading my team!

  • Emily says:

    I see the main problem here. The majority of members in the USEA/USEF are amateurs. The majority of members have not taken the power that they should be able to by giving themselves a vote in the matter. Maybe it is time to have an amateur committee written into coaching selection. Most pros start off as amateurs so why shouldn’t the majority have a say. Figure out how to get someone in power to make an amendment to the bylaws to create the committee.

    I think the search committee knew they would be opening a can of worms when they made this short list especially after the b.s. they put out about public opinion did matter to them. My own opinion after reading the EN interviews is that PD/BC had the best interview. I really didn’t like the DOC and JW interviews about how they had been grooming themselves for this position for the past 20 years, but didn’t give any details about what they were going to do when they got the job.

  • Curiosity Killed the Cat says:

    All other arguments aside, I admit my curiosity makes me disappointed that one of the non-publicized applications didn’t make it to the short list. I’m dying to know who all the applications were.

    But that is neither here nor there.

    As you were. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

  • RTR says:

    Oh yeah, the supporters have resorted to name-calling. That’s klassy!

    Look, everyone here is free to state their opinion. I feel that it takes more than 4 years to turn a program from not much to silver medals and I don’t think you can discount the people that came before the ones who are getting all of the acclaim. It doesn’t make me wrong or clueless, it makes me have an opinion that is different from yours. Luckily, on EN, that is allowed.

    Now hurry back with some more witty remarks about my intelligence and reasoning capabilities or I shall have to taunt you again.

  • John says:

    17. Hopefully I understand your question. To be clear, the 4 applicants I referred to are the 4 we don’t know about aside from the 5 we did know about: Jimmy, David, Phillip/Bobby, Andrew, and Leslie. There were 9 applicants, and the 6 just refers to the number of applicants the Search Committee chose to interview, which isn’t related at all to the 4 applicants we don’t know about.

    Differing opinions are not only allowed but encouraged, impoliteness is not. Sometimes PlayerHater gets a little overzealous in their support (and criticism), but the comment moderation ninjas are on high alert .

  • Anon2 says:

    Why can’t John have an opinion? This is a blog after all and it’s opinion is why I read. I don’t necessarily agree all the time, but that’s alright, why should I.

    All I can say is thank god it wasn’t JW. U guys on here were scaring me, I thought the guy had a chance, even know he is clearly unqualified, but because of his popularity here, I was worried.

    Team coach shouldn’t be a popularity contest or who plays nice with ammies. Phillip I thought was the best choice (his record and his students records speak for themselves) but DOC was my second choice so I’m happy enough. I think our team will be better off.

    Onward and hopefully upwards!

  • JoiseyGirl says:

    Bummed about PD/BC. I thought they had great ideas for the team. (Also, I have to ask: who cares if PD is a good ammie coach? That wouldn’t be his job here.)

  • Anon says:

    It is the upper level riders who represent the country… They should pick the coach not all the yahoo’s out there that think they know what is best. What is best comes from experience

  • Elaine says:

    The funny think is that if they had just annouced that they’d chosen LL, I would think it was interesting and that he had somehow managed to really wow them and I’d kind of be excited about the future. As it is, I agree with John that he’s been set up as cannon fodder or perhaps as the next Canadian coach. Maybe David recommended him and thought he’d have better shot if it was known that he had been a finalist for the US job.

  • Susan says:

    Anon: Do you think the selectors were a good representation of all of our upper level riders or do you think, perhaps, it was stacked with a small portion of riders fully invested in keeping things status quo?

    We have MANY upper level riders that have been shut out of the process by the CMP administration. I think a whole lot of them would have liked to see real change.

    What’s funny is that I actually like David. He wasn’t my first choice by a long shot — Jimmy was but I don’t dislike David (although I have MAJOR concerns about politics and the fact that OCET was a major player in the CMP years debaucle).

    Had they brought David and Jimmy up to the short list, at a minimum (I am surprised by a two name short list — that is REALLY short), I would have no issues. The fact that they brought David and Leslie ONLY… speaks volumes… and smells really, really bad!

  • Tummy says:

    Can anyone name a single major Olympic sport where the amateurs get a say in choosing their team coaches? I can understand wanting to have a say in who is USEA president, but in what way does the team coaching/selection process impact those that don’t fall under the ULR category?

    It’s like beer leagues and D3 college/high school teams demanding that they get to be a part of the NFL draft or something…

  • WintryMix NY says:

    It is clear that a lot of people have very strong feelings about the short-list. It is likely everyone would have had strong feelings about any short-list; we all deeply love the sport and want to see it flourish.

    But one thing that strikes me is that the USEF could probably have handled the PR around the whole process better. Some elements of the decision-making process need to happen behind closed doors, but that doesn’t mean that the message about the process couldn’t have been handled differently. Undoubtedly people would still be upset, but maybe with better communication the strong negative response some are feeling could have been at least dampened. Then again, maybe for some there is such deep distrust of the powers that be at the moment that nothing would have made a difference.

    Going forward I think it would be wise for the USEF/USEA to put together a strong campaign/communication effort to help the whole community to feel as positive as possible about the final selection.

  • Susan says:

    WintryMix — good points.

    However, it should be noted that USEA has absolutely no power in this process. It is solely a USEF function.

  • Anonymous says:

    absolutely Susan – the USEA has nothing to do with the US Eventing Coach. It is 100% a USEF position, hired, fired and paid for by the USEF.

  • Brach says:

    Well no surprises here really for those JW fans who think that the existing Canadian program had anyhting to do with JW think again the program was in shambles when David took over.
    He has had the full support of the HP committee to rebuild and create what is the current program.
    DOc or LL would serve the US well and who ever doesn’t get the job will be welcomed with open arms in Canada!!
    Everyone will be jumping on the bandwagon for DOC following London!

  • Mel says:

    wow! am shocked and disappointed the decision. I’ll leave it at that.

  • Morgan says:

    Forgive me if this has already been addressed, but when CMP leaves in 2012, will the US Team Coach still work with Jim Wolf?

  • Elaine says:

    How long was Jimmy the coach of the Canadians? What was the budget and mandate? Who acted as chef during that time?

    Also, while awesomely exciting, the Canadians success at WEG was both a combination of performing to the best of their abilities while receiving a huge dose of luck at the hands of some serious underachieving on the part of the Germans and the US.

    And to give DOC all the credit does a disservice to the riders and the other people who had a hand in the process. From everything I’ve heard, the chef played a huge role as well. And Selena and Hawley have been at the top of their games for a long time. Who did Sinead ride with when she was in Europe?
    It’s not like DOC plucked them out of thin air and turned them into champions.

  • Another Anon says:

    Firstly, John can have an opinion he just has to keep reminding everyone that it is a “blog” and NOT an unbiased forum for eventing news.

    Secondly, it is highly likely that the selection has been made. Leslie is the candidate that can survive the process unscathed. The US won’t lose a rider. Leslie will continue with his business and his riding with little interruption. Smacks of politics.

    Team leadership is about generosity with one’s time, a keen eye for detail and the ability to communicate and share information. It is also about being humble in the face of success AND adversity. After all, ability can take you to the top but character is what keeps you there. Many of us know that this selection process should have gone deeper and taken the long-term future of American Eventing away from the politics of the sport. I hope that in 2012 we won’t be looking at an emperor in his new clothes…

  • Bond says:

    To Brach-One Silver team medal does not a consistent team make. Though gutsy and fun to watch, the Canadiens were most of all lucky. They haven’t started this season off with overwhelming wins, let’s see if they do OK at Rolex, pan Ams-we all may be sick in our stomachs after London knowing David is going to be our coach.

  • WintryMix NY says:

    Oh, sorry, my mistake… I don’t know much about the hierarchy of everything, I’m just getting back into the sport. But that is pretty interesting.

  • Anonymous says:

    If you look a little closer Bond you will see it wasn’t only thier Silver medal
    they had 4 top ten finishes at Rolex, they had THE top North American combination at WEG
    Hawley had countless top finishes in the West leading up to 2010
    Stephanie as John has mentioned on EN was the top Advanced performer in 2010 in the US
    All that was possible because of the consistent program that has been quietly been developed since 2004 when DOC took over.
    JW said it himself in the WEG sj broadcast, they are a team that has been designed to peak in 2012
    It was no mistake and you can appease yourself stating that it came as a result of very poor performance of the US and Germans at WEG

  • 434 says:

    Another Anon, do you really think that anything is unbiased? When John presents news (ie the announcement this morning) it’s called news, his opinion is called opinion and most people read Eventing Nation for both.

  • Anonymous says:

    Sinead is not a Canadian rider!
    Anyone would be simply shocked at the meager budget the Canucks had going into WEG.
    The budget they had while under JW’s leadership was much much larger
    The riders and the program lead by David and supported by the entire HP committee were able to reap the benefits with a very strong 2010 not simply WEG

  • Another Anon says:

    Reply to 434. I’m just saying that “journalists” have a responsibility to identify an opinion (e.g. the editorial page in a newspaper, or the “opinion” segment on the news) vs. lumping it together with their “factual” reporting. Blurring the lines between opinion and reporting has become an art form in American politics and I think that this entire process smacks of just that — American politics.

  • Bond says:

    To Anonymous, yes i will appease myself(?)by saying that certainly the Germans could have done better and certainly Australia had the flip side of the Canadien’s good luck. I am sure you are Canadiene so I will repeat that they were gutsy and fun to watch but I still think one medal one time doesn’t make a good, consistent team. To back that up, look at the Germans and Australians. Sometimes the same great momentum that carried a team through a season is reversed. The serendipitous nature of horses alone is enough to put a whammy on any outcome. DOC doing well with them in 2010 is hardly a guarantee that they will or should be on the podium in 2012.

  • Mb says:

    How did this turn into a bash the Canadians lol (kind of amusing)??? look at the results (Rolex as previously pointed out was awesome, a 5th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 13th, and 19th. That not JUST luck, obviously as the good results carried onto the WEG. Everyone needs abit of luck when it come to horses. Canada will be on that podium in 2012, and they should be.


    Well, there you go. Lets make the list so obviously biased it’s not even funny.

    I can’t believe EN wants David..

    Well, that about wraps that up….it’s bull hockey….nice to know that those who support this sport have absolutely NO voice at all, NONE. Yeah, great, Eventing, the next Hunter/Jumper world.

    Politics, carry on.

  • Diana says:

    I still don’t get why those who “support the sport” should have a voice? Especially if one doesn’t stand a chance at possibly being named as a team member, and be coached by the team coach… why should any of us have a vote? Does anyone who plays football, even the pros, get a say in who is coach?
    There is some serious sh%t going on in the world today. The US eventing team coach choice just doesn’t make my top ten list of things to get this upset about.
    And I love and support eventing or obviously I wouldn’t be reading here.

  • ally says:

    This is not a “short list!” it is a duo, a pair, a couple. Only naming two to the “list” leaves a bad impression. Are we really expected to believe that of this group, only two could do the job properly? Ridiculous! Despite the fact that either of these two could be great, the process is important, the appearance of impartiality and careful deliberation, critical. And I thought there were some intelligent people on the selection committee! So wrong!

  • LisaB says:

    I’m just thinking of reasons why JW wasn’t on the list:
    1. He pissed in someone’s Wheaties
    2. He slept with everyone on the committee’s mother
    3. He’s a hardass and they want to be pampered
    4. I observed Kim come from being an advanced rider to an international rider under him – did they ignore her?

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