With non stop action there has been little time for keeping up with the chores of managing and uploading images let alone writing. But Wednesday was a 10+ day in every sense of the word. The weather was perfect; shining sun, low humidity, and the dressage horses sparkled with every vein and muscle visible through my lens. And it was the best dressage ever I have witnessed. A very special moment for me was the first time I saw Totilas on Tuesday in the Team Dressage. My colleague Terri Miller-Steiner was in the same area and we were both in tears after watching this incredible combination of Edward Gal and Totilas the amazing by Gribaldi. Terri who is married to International Dressage Judge Axel Steiner has been around the world yet this was for Terri the first time as well she saw Totilas. I told her it was a special moment we shared as we have worked shows together for over 35 years. Terri is keeping a blog on her website terrimiller.com.
There are many familiar faces in the crowd, and it has been fun seeing so many people from across the country. There were the orange Dutch fans easy to spot in the crowd, who stood in the background for the awards with seven people wearing individual t-shirts spelling out TOTILAS and singing songs they normally sing at soccer matches. Of course there are plenty of flags from all the countries represented, and when Steffen Peters and Ravel entered the arena the roar of the crowd was deafening. The determination of all the riders when they entered the arena for the Grand Prix Special demonstrated what world class dressage really is. To witness it in person and to have front row press seat with a 450 millimeter lens was a gift and privilege I will forever be grateful for.
I do have to say it has been difficult here as media: many rules which keep changing. We lucked out and rented a golf cart very early in the game. As many of our readers know I am recovering from a severe 4-wheeler accident which happened June 26. Fifteen broken bones and a punctured lung in fact! But I am feeling pretty good, and thankful I have a golf cart. But even those rules keep changing. We were able to drive into the media area to pickup our equipment, but now apparently we are not able to unless we get a special sticker. I was told no, but have permission to ask again, so am trying. I had been holding up pretty well, but when JJ was not allowed to come to the area where I was stationed to pick me up (even though we had been able to do that up until yesterday). I had to walk back to the media tent carrying 35 pounds of camera. Tuny Page saw me starting to pass out and was so sweet offering to help. I told her I was more mad than weak. As photographers out job is the most difficult. We are there to photograph all rides and there are few breaks. Then we are told we have to walk long distances away from certain zones.
I could go on and on, and this is the only time I will mention this. I have been so proud and excited to have the games here finally in my back yard. After being treated like royalty at Aachen and other events I especially worry about our colleagues who have it tougher than me. I want so much for everyone to have a good impression of Kentucky and our beautiful Horse Park, and for Alltech who did and continue to do so much to support this effort. I just want our readers and those attending to know this is not a representation of all of the people involved who love the sport and are proud to be a part of it. The volunteers have been incredible. Friendly and working hard. They too are frustrated at the changing rules, lack of communication and getting blamed by some for issues beyond their control. OK, I am done, and hope I do not need to express my discouragement and disappointment in the impression many are getting here.
It is time to post this piece, and get ready for the reining Final. We have become buddies with Craig and Ginger Schmersal schmersalranch.com since they came to the Spindletop Competitor’s party hosted by Dr. Pearce Lyons of Alltech. They fell in love with Spindletop Hall, the best deal of the WEG going, and have been back several times bringing Lyle Lovett to lunch. Then last night when we saw them again and found out Craig loves to hunt. That was all it took for JJ and him to become new buddies and plans are in the works for doing a trade hunt in Kentucky and Oklahoma.