Search This Blog

Friday, December 21, 2012

2010 World Equestrian Games (WEG) - Part 1

I have been meaning to do a post about my adventures at the World Equestrian Games, and I just found some photos I had handy on this computer. There are lots more but if I wait until I remember to send them over this will never get done. So, without further ado - the WEG!
I picked up this promo brochure way back in '08 and had it stuck in my bedroom mirror. I thought it was Rich Fellers and Flexible but the blaze is wrong. ETA: Sapphire and Mclain Ward, thank you to reader L. Williams!
The minute I read in Practical Horseman that Lexington/the Kentucky Horse Park had landed the World Equestrian Games for 2010 (which I think was in 2007), I was determined to go. No way was I missing such a  huge event located only six hours away! Never mind that tickets would be expensive... and lodging, if I could find it, even more so: I. Was. Going. Right away I planned on watching the 3-Day Eventing, as I'd thoroughly enjoyed that at the Atlanta Olympics. I've seen some famous show jumpers, and I do love that, too, but there's just something so cool about being a spectator on a x-country course, even if eventing isn't "my" equestrian sport.

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)
As the day went on, I figured out a couple things. One was to keep going until I found a place to stand where I could actually see something. My best view of the water turned out to be alongside the galloping lane going in. After I'd had my fill of that, I decided to find some other jumps that weren't quite so popular. Another tip was how to - believe it or not - actually capture some halfway decent photos with my iPhone. Viewing my frustration, a fellow spectator gave me the tip of hitting the shutter button just as I heard the horses' feet go "thump" upon takeoff from the ground. Hence,  I was able to get these:


Not too bad, right? I don't know who the first two riders are but that one with the "cottage" jump is Philip Dutton. It was late in the day and I believe he was the last US rider on x-country, and had a fault-free round which we badly needed.

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
The crowd that day was a record, some 55,000 strong if I recall. The perfect weather certainly helped and I was thrilled for the organizers. Now, out of that enormous crowd, are you the least bit amazed that I ran into someone I know? The horse world is only so big, I guess! :-) And unsurprisingly, it was the horse I recognized first. This was not a competitor: no, it was someone in foxhunting attire who was serving as an outrider. She and her lovely B/W Pinto gelding were standing in one place, on hand in case of a runaway or other mayhem. I thought, hmmm, that pair looks familiar... I went up and yes, they were from the Bridlespur Hunt Club right here in my neck of the woods, and I'd actually been hunting with them twice. The lady is well-acquainted with my friend who used to be very active in the hunt club and though I had to remind her we'd met, she did remember me. I was really delighted when she gave me her "volunteer lunch" that she didn't want - having checked out the prices in the food concession stands, I was more than happy to snarf down a warm baloney-and-cheese sandwich, broken potato chips and some crumbly cookies.  (Yes, I'm a cheapskate and will eat almost anything that's free.) I did attempt to feed the horse one of the cookies, lest you think I'm a total pig...
Becky Holder and Courageous Comet - somehow missed seeing them, unfortunately, but one of my favorite TBs! I think I missed them because Comet was injured on course and had to retire before they got to "my" area at the time. Photo courtesy of TheHorse.com.

In Part 2 I'll cover Stadium Jumping day and the rest of the many delights at the WEG!

2 comments:

  1. It's Mclain Ward and Sapphire. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, that was really bugging me. And thank you for being a regular reader/commenter here. I appreciate every one of you! :-)

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your comment!