Monday, September 27, 2010

All Clear in WEG Dressage Horse Inspection

The USA’s Tina Konyot and Calecto V, with the other three American horses, passed the FEI horse inspection one day before the start of WEG dressage competition

There haven’t been too many glaring glitches thus far, two days into competition at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Unfortunately, the scheduling of the dressage veterinary horse inspection was one of them.
The press center told us 11:00 a.m. All materials indicated 11:00. So it was with panicked voices that press-center workers dashed about the building this morning, calling that the horse inspection was already under way. In fact, it had started an hour ago—something to do with a last-minute rescheduling to accommodate the endurance competition, which was taking place today.

THE BLACK STALLION: The overwhelming favorite for gold, the Netherlands’ Moorlands Totilas and rider Edward Gal
So I’m sorry to say that I (and most other media folks) missed France, missed Germany—missed nearly every nation from A to G, seeing as they “trot up” in alphabetical order. Fortunately N and U come later in the alphabet, meaning that we made it in time for the Netherlands, the heavily favored gold-medal contenders; and for the good old US of A. Also fortunately, all 66 of the dressage horses representing 24 nations passed inspection, although Norway’s Carte d’Or and Switzerland’s Corinth were “held” and had to be re-presented to the veterinary officials before getting the green light to compete.

The Schedule
Dressage competition begins tomorrow, September 27, at 8:34 a.m. There will be two successive days of Grand Prix competition, which will decide the team medals. Then on Wednesday, September 29, it’s on to the Grand Prix Special. The top-placing horses and riders from the Grand Prix will contest this class for the first set of WEG individual dressage medals. They’ll get a day off on September 30, and then the grand finale comes the evening of October 1, when the final fifteen will ride their Grand Prix Freestyles for the second and final WEG individual dressage medals.

 An Equestrian Cornucopia
ALL UNDER ONE ROOF: These World Equestrian Games comprise eight disciplines. A para-equestrian dressage competitor practices under her coach’s watchful eye.

There were naysayers who said the WEG would be a mess: There wasn’t enough money, everything was too expensive, and the organization would be a disaster. Well, so far, I can tell you that it appears there was plenty of money, everything is kind of expensive (food is pricey, which makes for a handy diet plan), and the organization seems pretty good for such a massive undertaking. And the volunteers and workers seem determined to impress all visitors with a healthy dose of friendly Kentucky hospitality.

KENTUCKY PRIDE: American horses, celebrities, and music—especially those hailing from Kentucky, like this champion Saddlebred—were the focus of WEG opening ceremonies
If you’re not here, you’re missing out. This is my first WEG, and even an Olympic Games pales in comparison for sheer horse-world scope. I walk down the lane at the Kentucky Horse Park, and on my left are eventers schooling. A para-equestrian competitor is hard at work at the ring on the right. Over on the steeplechase course, endurance riders, eventers, and jumpers (maybe even some dressage riders!) are enjoying a walk or a bit of a hand-gallop. The reiners are up there on the hill in the indoor arena. The really fun part is watching the cross-discipline interaction: folks in cowboy hats and Wranglers, taking in a driving exhibition; or the opening ceremonies themselves, probably the first time many in the audience had seen high-stepping Saddlebreds, racing Standardbreds, or native Americans and their horses.

DRESSAGE ON DISPLAY: Come visit the USDF National Education Center at the Horse Park. Attractions include a special Members Lounge and the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame (pictured).
 I haven’t been to downtown Lexington’s equine expos yet (a trip is planned for this week), but there’s plenty of shopping at the WEG. The Trade Fair Village, the Kentucky Experience, the Alltech Experience—these aren’t the standard pipe-and-drape vendor booths; these are full-fledged perma-tents with doors, floors, lighting, air conditioning—buildings, really, with walls and furniture and décor. Today I retreated to the “Media Chill-Out Zone” in the Alltech Experience pavilion (which is big enough that I had to ask directions) to conduct a phone interview. I chilled in comfort on a comfy barstool with a cup of coffee, surrounded by wood flooring and TV screens showing the progress of the reining competition. Too bad I was on duty and couldn’t enjoy a complimentary Alltech Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. Maybe later…

SHOPPING: The Bit of Britain mega-booth at WEG
 Not too shabby, all around. I’m grateful to be here and excited for tomorrow’s dressage. Check back daily for the latest from WEG.

Jennifer O. Bryant

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