Show Jumpers and Sponsors Take a Bow

I have to say that I am impressed with the spectator turnout and enthusiasm.  What a supportive crowd.  After Mario Deslauriers and Urico went clear the thundering applause, stomping on the bleachers and waving of the flags was incredible.

After his ride Mario came to the center of the long side and stood for a moment and then waved to everyone.  He looked like he was amazed and pleased with the incredible warmth of this crowd.  His show of appreciation was subtle but sincere.

Before him Lauren Hough went around with Quick Study (and did a quick study of the course).  She put in a really powerful ride and it looked like the poles were going to stay put until she jumped the very last bold oxer and a rail dropped.

In between the first and second sessions of show jumping today, Rolex sponsored a luncheon and the thought that went through my mind was that they really get it.  This wasn’t a simple lunch.  This was tablecloths and napkins and salmon, chicken and more.  They made us feel special and appreciated.

It made me think about the various sponsors here and what they are all doing right.  As a sponsor you are looking for branding, name recognition and things that you do that will keep a lasting impression in people’s minds.  

When I think of Alltech, I think of the wonderful job of branding that they’ve done.  Alltech’s black, white and orange signage is everywhere.  The A is done in orange so it really stands out.  It’s a great backdrop for the photos.  They also have their name right up front – 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.  So, anywhere that is written, their name is visible and seen in our pictures. 

In addition to that they had small signage along the long side of the dressage arena, which also showed up in our photos.  They hosted a party and bused people to see one of their sites, have a media chill zone in their incredible Alltech Experience (part of the trade fair) and are giving out free Dip N Dots to anyone who wants some.

For the presentation, their signage is visible on the podium and one of the prizes is a year’s worth of Life Force, their newest supplement for horses.

Rolex, in addition to the luncheon, has signage everywhere and gave pens as gifts.  They have their PR person here and constantly around.  By now we all know him, at least by site.  Then in the medal presentations they give the winner a watch.  And the Rolex clock is seen everywhere.  It was out on the course for cross country and in the arena for show jumping.

Land Rover has done it a little differently.  They created this area where you can see how their vehicles handle rough terrain by driving through the maze they’ve set up.  They also provided box lunches for us to take with us on cross country day.

Ariat has provided clothes to the volunteers, so anywhere those volunteers are, so is the Ariat name.

Adequan – well they really did something unique.  I doubt anyone at the park will miss this one.  They have a plane pulling a huge banner over the Kentucky Horse Park every day.  That thing seems to be there every time I’ve looked up in the sky; another unique way to get some branding.

For dragging the rings all the crew use John Deere tractors and so everyone also gets to see how well they function.  They also have a huge setup across from the trade fair showcasing their line of tractors and other vehicles.  They also hosted a cocktail reception.

And those are only some of the ways those sponsoring this event are taking advantage of their sponsorship.  It’s one thing to pay your money to sponsor something.  It’s another thing to make that sponsorship work for you.  And these sponsors clearly understand that.

Okay, let’s get back to show jumping.  When Laura Kraut went in show jumping on Cedric she had a rail drop very early in the course and then near the end and so with one more to go we were counting on McLain.

When Sapphire carried McLain into the arena the roar was what I’d hoped it would be.  McLain looked serene although I’m sure he was nervous.  He’s got the horse and he’s got the talent.  Now he needs to make it all come together for this event.  McLain rode Sapphire with seamless ease around the course even though he later revealed that the one gate line he carefully negotiated.   We knew McLain could do it but having him fulfill that hope was really compelling.

In the end Mario finished 1st with McLain on his heels and in the press conference we had a chance to hear what their plan was.  Yes they were both nervous but focused and with a plan.  They all had a meeting with George and he told them to go in there to win and if along the way things happened then they needed to adapt.  And so they all mapped out their plan.

Even though they’ve heard the applause I doubt that either of these two expected the warm welcome that they received.  While I was sitting in the stands someone around me got a call.  Apparently a friend of theirs was watching NBC as the event unfolded and was seeing what we were seeing.  Wow, that really is a big step for equestrian sports.

If you aren’t here be sure to watch the NBC programming.  You need to witness what is unfolding here in Lexington, KY.  I think this one event could change the face of horses in the United States.

Tomorrow is the first half of the show jumping team competition and Para Equestrian also starts.  I’m crossing our fingers that our riders do well.  It would be great for the show jumpers to medal this week.

As always, feel free to email me with your questions or comments at