The “Rider” (oops Ryder) Cup Experience
As we approached the stage we could hear the MC telling the crowd a little about the history of the Ryder Cup. It was started in 1927 by Samuel Ryder. The actual Ryder Cup is a gold trophy with a figure of a golfer on the top. Sam Ryder was a huge golf fan. He hired Abe Mitchell as his personal trainer, and, later asked him to be the captain of the European team in the inaugural tournament. Ryder was so impressed with Mitchell that the figure on top of the trophy is modeled after Mitchell.
Unfortunately, Mitchell could not play in the tournament in 1927 due to appendicitis. Thank goodness I made it to the ceremony to complete the circle. We all got a chuckle out of that. Following sky writers, dancing kites and a 400 piece band from UK and U of L we escorted the team captains carrying the golf icon. The crowd went crazy at the sight of the Cup cheering and waving flags. The horses were very animated, wide eyed and cautious as they walked amidst the crowd towards the TV camera and Imax screen. When we were in our places the announcer thanked the marching bands AND the Kentucky Horse Park, the United States Dressage Federation, and the Kentucky Dressage Association ! Wow, dressage finally recognized - our five minutes of fame !
We were all in a celebratory mood on the way back to the stables and so relieved none of the horses had spun and run across the golf green. Back at the barn we toasted with a glass of champagne with the Ryder Cup Team, the Kentucky Horse Park, and USDF representatives. The horses remained calm but cautious as Team Europe began the walk to the stage amongst 40,000 spectators at the Valhalla Golf Course. Team Europe riders lined up to head into the opening ceremony following the UK marching band. Team USA was on the opposite side in formation with the University of Louisville marching band.
Participating in the opening ceremony was one of those once in a lifetime opportunities The people from Jack Morton Worldwide were so appreciative of our efforts, and that is what made it all worth while.
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