It's hard enough to pilot one horse through a dressage test. I can't imagine how much skill it must take to keep a four-in-hand in sync for an entire test in an oversized dressage arena, my only aids being reins and whip. But that's exactly what the "whips" do.
Today is the final day of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, and the final phase of the driving competition, the cones course (equivalent to show jumping), is under way. It's a nail-biter for sure, with entrants tied for both second place (the USA's Chester Weber and the Netherlands' Ijsbrand Chardon) and fourth place (the USA's Tucker Johnson and the Netherlands' Theo Timmerman) after yesterday's marathon (equivalent to eventing's cross-country). Boyd Exell of Australia is the individual leader.
|Chester Weber of the US shows his skill in driven dressage. Photo by Kit Houghton/FEI.|
In the team standings, the US and the Netherlands are tied for first place, so a fierce battle for the gold medal is taking place.
Driving competitor and dressage rider and judge Sara Schmitt recounted in a recent USDF Connection "Outside the Arena" training article the ways that driving and dressage can be symbiotic. I have never tried my hand at driving, but someday I'd like to.
One incident has marred the otherwise fun and exciting driving competition, and that's the slashing of seats and spilling of brake fluid on Chardon's vehicle sometime in the night prior to marathon day. The vandalism was discovered shortly before the Dutch competitor was to contest yesterday's marathon. He was permitted a later starting time so as to ensure the safety of the vehicle and especially its brakes.
Security on the grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park obviously wasn't sufficient to prevent the incident. As of this writing, the culprit(s) has not been identified. It is an embarrassing moment for the WEG, of course. I'm also a little disgusted that I had to learn of the incident from a report in the Lexington Herald-Leader and not from WEG officials themselves, who only last night released a statement confirming the vandalism and the involvement of the Kentucky State Police in the investigation.