It’s 12:30 a.m. for me as I finish up this article with some last minute thoughts to add before I talk about wandering around the grounds. The Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle was tonight and it was UNBELIEVABLE, so take some time to read all the stories. I just wanted to add some quick thoughts.
History was made today and every one of you horse enthusiasts reading this should be proud. Kentucky did us proud. WEG surpassed themselves with one of the best dressage events this country has ever seen. The stands were packed, yes I said packed, 25,000 seats sold out, every single seat filled with an energized person.
I wish I could thank each and every person who came tonight, clapped, cheered, even booed – just a big thank you for showing the world that dressage in the United States can be awesome and deserves more support. And then to have Steffen Peters win his second Individual Bronze Medal was the icing on the cake. In fact he referred to it that way. Steffen said the first Bronze was the icing and this one was more sprinkling and now it’s a pretty tasty cake.
If you’ve heard the talk about how these Games are going to change the face of horse sports in the United States – well we were witness to that tonight. So, with those few words I get on to the focus of my article today, because we have a full day tomorrow with Eventing cross country. The Wanderings
I did some wandering around today and didn’t focus on photographing the event as much. It was Eventing Dressage and since the cross country course photos are the ones that everyone wants to see, this was my opportunity to get to see what else is on the grounds.
I started out on a course walk with Bruce Davidson and a couple of the other Eventing riders. Hearing Bruce talk was what I was most interested in because I remember the days when Bruce was at the top of his game and would always end up as a member of the World Equestrian Games and Olympic teams. Now his son, Buck, is the one that’s taking on the challenge.
Bruce and the others made some interesting comments as we wandered around the course such as, if you want to win a prize you have to go straight and quick. Bruce also talked about “gimme” fences, the ones that were token fences that were a bit easier than the others. He noted that Jimmy Wofford calls those fences “Hi Mom (look up and smile)” fences.
One comment that Bruce made was the importance of using your legs whenever possible to guide around the course and not your hands. “Hold your line with you leg,” he commented, “then there is no reason for your horse to fuss with his head.” He went on to explain that by guiding too much with your hands you can interrupt the horse’s rhythm.
Then there were other little tips he passed along such as the importance of getting close to a bank jump so it’s easier for them to step up onto it rather than reach.
We concluded our course walk at the water jump which has two fences with a minimum of six jumping efforts. At this jump and for many of the other fences on the course, there are longer easier routes, but those will definitely cost the riders valuable time.
Since the water jump is not too far from the trade fair, I figured this was my chance to take a quick saunter around and also visit the Alltech Experience while it was up and running. It was nice. They had a young country music band playing in the center of the complex and all around numerous tents with different things to learn and do. And free Dip N Dots (they are like ice cream and quite good).
The Trade Fair is a mixture of all kinds of things to buy and also at the entrance they are doing daily performances. When I was there they were doing some Reining demonstrations.
Walking back to the Media Tent was fun mostly because of the art on the back of the temporary grand stands. It’s a magnificent design of horse heads and more and massive. It gives a good and bold first impression when you enter.
It was easier than I thought to wander through the Trade Fair and then get back to the Media Tent in time to shoot some of the remaining Dressage riders. Now that dressage is over their focus is on the cross country.
As I wandered back to the press tent there were horses schooling in warmup rings and crowds wandering around the grounds. Staff and Riders in golf carts were everywhere, each headed on their own personal mission. In the air was a mixture of languages, which is what is unique to this event; all those foreign visitors are learning about WEG and about Kentucky. It’s exciting to see them with their flags waving after each rider departs from the arena.
And with that I close the report still excited about the incredible rides I saw tonight and the powerful and energized audience. It was truly AWESOME! If you watched it on NBC or read about it, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.