I watched the horse news carefully and found out when tickets would be going on sale. Then the prices were announced - ouch. The dream began to slip through my fingers, as I added up the cost of tickets, gas, food and lodging. By spring of 2010 I'd kind of given up on the whole thing, I'm afraid. But never fear, it was Facebook to the rescue! I found an old friend of mine going back to elementary school. We had lost touch years ago and I was tickled when she turned up on social media. I was even more tickled when I learned that she lives not 10 minutes away from the Kentucky Horse Park. I couldn't believe it - would she be willing to have a weekend guest? YES!
Once I had a bed to sleep in, the rest fell into place. My mom graciously agreed to buy me tickets for Saturday and Sunday as my birthday gift. My friend said she'd feed me dinners. She even said she'd drop me off at the KHP so no need to fork out $20/day for parking. It was on!
I arrived in KY Friday night and my old friend and I had a great reunion (we still like each other, whew :-). The weather, if I recall, had been a bit iffy, but Saturday dawned sunny and pleasant, perfect for horses and riders on x-country and spectators, too. I got up and dressed and out the door in record time, anxious to be at the Park. My friend dropped me off at the entrance, as planned, and I started to walk.... and walk.... and walk. I'd forgotten that it's a loooooong way in from Ironworks Pike! Lots of people joined me from the parking lots, though, so I felt pretty smug about saving my $$.
I bought my ticket and entered the park right by the main grandstand. The horses had already started on the course, and I followed the crowd right to where hundreds of people had gathered, at the Head of the Lake water complex. Folks were really packed in and it was hard to see, but I didn't care - I was THERE, hurray! When the first horse came through I think I cried. Wow, what a grand partnership and those horses are so freakin' BRAVE! Full of run and jump, just point 'em in the right direction and by golly, 98% of the time they're gonna go over it, whether it's down a huge drop they don't even know is coming, a log they can't see over, or some other insane creation that no right-minded rider would ask a horse to negotiate. But as eventers will tell you, they aren't normal!
|(Not my photo, found online)|
Speaking of spectators, one of my most favorite aspects of x-country day - out of a truly magical day that I spent literally in horse heaven, just awed and overjoyed to be there - was talking to my fellow onlookers. I am not shy and retiring so everywhere I went and sat or stood for a while, I struck up a conversation with someone nearby. Quite often they weren't even from the U.S. I met people from Great Britain, Australia and Germany (who spoke excellent English). I met a professional photographer slung about with giant lenses and camera bodies. I met people who were decked out in full (expensive) casual horsey regalia, like Hermes scarves and Dubarry boots, and others who had on well-worn jeans, scuffed paddocks and a battered fleece. Regardless, it was just such a treat to be surrounded by so many fellow horse-lovers. I did talk to a few people who didn't know much of anything about horses and were there because it was a "big event" taking place nearby - good for them!
|Photo courtesy of TheHorse.com|
In Part 2 I'll cover Stadium Jumping day and the rest of the many delights at the WEG!