A Mixed Bag of Tricks

French Vaulting Team. Photo by Diana DeRosa
French Vaulting Team. Photo by Diana DeRosa

Today was a mixed bag of tricks. It started out at Driving knowing that U.S. World Champion Chester Weber would be doing his Dressage test as part of this year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy.

In between there was a course walk of the hazards that the drivers will negotiate on Saturday. Then in the early evening it was off to Vaulting and a wander around the Games village.  

Driving is taking place at La Prairie Racecourse while Vaulting is by the Games Village, a short shuttle ride away. The media has shuttles that take you from one venue to the next, which is great. What’s not so great is that they don’t always arrive.

But never mind. We’re in France and as the French say, “C’est la vie!”

Now we’ve arrived at the end of the day and looking back I’m not sure which part was the best for today’s events. For sure Chester Weber claiming the victory in Driving Dressage gave a real boost to those wanting to go home having written about winning medals. Now, here’s hoping he continues that winning streak.

While that was a high to the day, visiting the Games Village was fun. There wasn’t enough time to see everything, thanks to one of those buses that never seems to want to come on time, but there was just about 20 minutes to wander around, which gave me just enough time to get pics.

Actually the Games Village offers something for everyone. Of course, lots of places to shop, fast food, things for kids (including a merry-go-round), and educational opportunities to better understand the world of horses and so much more. They say a picture speaks a thousand words. So, I’ll let you enjoy the Games Village via the pics included.

Okay, so the real high was Vaulting. Not because we won medals. This was my only chance to see Vaulting, due to a schedule that doesn't allow you to get to every discipline. While that's the bad news, the good news is I got to see the teams competing, including the Americans.

We stayed in first for awhile but about half way through the class the other countries pulled ahead of us.

Chester Weber. Photo by Diana DeRosa
Chester Weber. Photo by Diana DeRosa

So, why, you ask, was Vaulting so special? Because of the enthusiasm of the audience at watching these gymnasts on horseback with music as their backdrop. But more importantly the enthusiasm of a crowd that was clapping, cheering, waving flags and yelling out words of support. The Zenith Arena where the vaulting was held was filled to the max with an electrified crowd that went crazy (in a good way) when the French team took the Gold.

I’d planned to stay for just a couple of rounds but ended up staying to watch all 12 countries because I was inspired, not only by the talent of the competitors but the enthusiasm of the crowd.

Vaulting has now finished but there are still some very competitive Driving and Show Jumping classes ahead. Saturday’s individual jumping class decides the top four riders who will compete on Sunday for the Final Four. At the same time as that’s being decided the Drivers have their fun day of negotiating the hazards, with Sunday being the final cones phase.

We’ve got Beezie Madden in Show Jumping and Chester Weber in Driving claiming the number one spots right now. So, now you really know why I’m inspired. Let’s hope the dominoes continue to fall our way because I'm one of those journalists who'd like to write about some more U.S. medal victories, especially now that the Games are almost over