I promised to give you a birds eyeview of the Opening Ceremonies and I am going to do this as a picture montage connected by numbers.
When the conductor, John Nardolillo, took his place on stage to support the evenings events with a constant cascade of music it sent chills down my spine. This had been a moment that so many people had worked for and the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games were finally here.
The field of play was the huge Olympic arena where throughout the two weeks the nation’s finest athletes will try their best to earn medals. This Opening Ceremony was a salute to them and to all the hard work and dedication it took to organize this world class event.
It was 150 children (1) that first “trotted” into the arena wearing bamboo horses as 30 drummers and 26 trumpeters marched and played (2). In the center 16 horse dancers (3) from the Lexington ballet were ready as the countdown began.
It was then that the announcer began: “After four long years, it’s finally here. For the first time ever in the United States, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Kentucky and the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2010!”
The crowd roared, which was something that would prove to be a constant throughout the evening. Immediately after a hush fell over the audience, 13 Lakota Riders on Mustangs galloped into the arena. The 19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nation led the Prayer for All Nations (4).
Before the Black Horse Troop drill team (5) performance there was a cheerleading demonstration. Just around this time the Culver Color Guard (6)entered the arena and marched to the flag poles where during the night they would raise three flags; that of the United States, Kentucky and the FEI.
The next major feature involved famous Kentucky Saddlebreds (7) which the announcer referred to as the aristocrats of the show ring. The highlight of this part of the demonstration was when William Shatner came out driving the Saddlebred (8), “Call Me Ring.”
A demonstration of the thrill of racing was showcased first with two Standardbred Roadsters followed by two jockeys on Thoroughbreds. The famed jockey, Chris McCarron (9) was in the race. McCarron won all three Triple Crown races (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont) twice and has had 7,141 victories in his career.
After famed country singer Wynonna Judd sang “My Old Kentucky Home,” perhaps the most important event of the evening took place: the Parade of Athletes (10) from 58 countries.
Arabians were the focus of the next section. The Lexington ballet performed a dance in conjunction with some Arabian horses (11) as the announcer noted, “From the ancient deserts of the Middle East came a breed of horse that would change the world. The original source of quality and speed, with incredible endurance and remarkable intelligence…the Arabian horse, the ‘Gift from the Desert.’ ”
The Royal Friesians of the Netherlands (12) performed their legendary quadrille next.
It was then the local politicians that were featured, including Jim Newberry, the Mayor of Lexington, and the Governor and First Lady of Kentucky, Steve and Jane Beshear as well as Her Royal Highness, Princess Haya, President of the FEI.
Then it was Muhammad Ali’s (13) turn to be showcased as the most celebrated Kentuckian and three-time heavyweight champion. He was driven around the arena and with him in that same car was Dr. Pearse Lyons (13), the founder and owner of Alltech, the title sponsor of the Games.
The Dignitaries than made their remarks with HRH making the most important announcement of the evening: “Ladies and Gentlemen, friends, people of Kentucky, it is an honor and a great pleasure to declare the sixth Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Kentucky 2010, open.”
This was followed by 40 riders from the Culver Academy galloping into the stadium with 40 FEI flags (14).
Mario Contreras (15) followed with 16 dancers from the Lexington Ballet performing to the music of “West Side Story.”
Opera was also part of the evening and mezzo soprano Deyce Graves, Metropolitan Opera Star Cynthia Lawrence and Greg Turay, who hails from Lexington, each showed off their magnificent voices.
By that time the evening turned to country starting with the California Cowgirls carrying U.S flags (16). At the same time the Riata Ranch Ropers (16) did their amazing rope tricks, while Tommy Turvey (17) and Dan James worked with two liberty horses. Then Eitan Beth-Halachmy (18) performed as part of a Wild West extravaganza.
Sara Lee Guthrie then came onstage to sing and introduced Stacy Westfall (19) and while she sang “In a Young Girl’s Mind” and then “This Land is Your Land,” Stacy showed why her freestyle reining skills have been called “inspirational.”
The evening continued with more music in a Mardi Gras atmosphere which included Michele Macfarlane’s Carriages and Horse Parade (20). Then the evening’s performers joined in the final parade showcasing all those who were featured.
The concluding act of the evening was when famous tenor, Ronan Tynan sang “The Impossible Dream” with the Haitian Children’s Choir (23), a group of children brought in by Alltech, who is helping the Haitians rebuild their lives. It was the most emotional part of the evening.
And with that the announcer ended the evening saying, “Welcome to America, welcome to Kentucky, and welcome to the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. May all your dreams be of horses, and all your horses be dreams. Thank you and good night!
Note: There was not room for all of Diana's photos to appear within the article so they are all displayed at the end (from left to right)-simply click on a photo to enlarge it and enjoy!!