Alltech World Equestrian Games Showcases its 80 Horse World Opening Ceremony Tour

Sunday, August 24, 2014
Posted by Diana DeRosa


Lorenzo. Photo by Diana DeRosa
Lorenzo. Photo by Diana DeRosa

Opening Ceremony is undoubtedly one of the best parts of an Olympic or World Equestrian Games because it is always an incredible extravaganza. Again yet another Games outdid itself when the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy opened its doors to the world. From the moment it began at 8:00 p.m. at the Stade d’Ornano on August 23rd until the much loved horseman, Lorenzo, galloped out of the arena surrounded by his sea of bridleless horses, the evening was truly spectacular for the sold out seats filled with 21,000 spectators.

While the evening started with local equestrians and a variety of breed demonstrations, much of what happened was immersed in a colorful historical approach to France through the use of lights.

Called the 80 Horse World Tour, in total 100 horses and 300 people took part in the ceremony, which commenced with an air show by “La Patrouille de France.” They kicked off the colorful evening by leaving in their wake a plumb of red, white and blue.

The featured breeds included the Norman Cobs, Quarter Horses, Barbary, Przewalski and Akhal Teke each displaying what they do best from driving carriages to the brilliant Quarter Horse spins to carrying riders to and fro.

Throughout the evening the Republican Guard played instruments on horseback adding their band music as a backdrop to some of the presentations.

Also, sprinkled throughout the event were a variety of dancers who enhanced the messages that the colorfully lit scenes displayed.

Before the artistic part of the evening began the competitors had their chance to be recognized in the Parade of Nations with 74 nations being led by a flag waver as they took their tour around the beautiful arena. They were representing the eight FEI disciplines of Dressage, Driving, Eventing, Endurance, Jumping, Reining, Para-Equestrian, and Vaulting.

As each country reached the culmination of their walk, the flag bearer joined a semi-circle so that by the time every nation had their turn in the spotlight each country’s flag continued to be displayed as a final tip of the hat to those present.

The semi-circle of flags became the backdrop for the few words spoken by first Laurent Beauvais, President of the Games Organising Committee and President of the Lower Normandy Region and then by HRH Princess Haya, President of the FEI. Then one of the athletes, Kevin Staut, and Anne Prain, President of the Ground Jury for Para-Equestrian Dressage, offered their assurance that these Games would take place with the welfare of the horse paramount.

And with their words the clock chimed the start of the ever changing display of lights showcasing the history of the horses of France, beginning with a wandering child accompanied by a horse revealing the map of the world.

Opening Ceremonies. Photo by Diana DeRosa
Opening Ceremonies. Photo by Diana DeRosa

There were dancers and horses weaving in and out as each light and theme display changed, from the Nomad’s tents, to the Viking ships in the ocean, to the various artist and dancing presentations.

Throughout the exhibition there was a common message and that was that no matter what the century, horses have brought people together.

Horse ball, which will also be taking place at the same time as these Games, was also demonstrated.

As a way to enhance the colorful light displays blank screens were used to target the focus of each theme. Those screens changed in shape and size and showcased not only the horses but also an array of cows, because agriculture is a huge part of what the Normandy Region is known for and agriculture is also a strong theme for Alltech, the title sponsor.

Spotted in the seats near where HRH Princess Haya were seated was Alltech’s President Pearse Lyons along with his wife Deirdre and their son Mark.

Yet another set of screens showcased a variety of impressionist paintings where dancers demonstrated how they were inspired by these works of art through their movements.

Vaulting was also displayed because in a sense these gymnasts are truly dancers on horseback. Alexandra in her uniform of green and white expertly performed her own interpretation of the classic Vaulting movements.

That historical display bathed in color continued with William the Conqueror in The Battle of Hastings, which showed how the Normand horsemen won the English crown.

The light show continued at one point demonstrating what had become a familiar subtitle to this event and that is, hoofbeats in the sand. And there was also a classical performance by the riders of Saumur.

The battle between the Renaissance Normands and the Normand Archers was a tapestry of what that skirmish must have been like.

And a unique chess board created through light featuring horses and dancers sent the message that the world is like a chess board where only the horse roams.

A time machine then appeared on the arena floor followed by a vision of the Earth which was the introduction to Lorenzo and his incredible free roaming horses. The message being sent here was that these were the horses of the sea and that the sea brings men and horses on the road to freedom.

Before the final salute to the performers, a colorful Pegasus, the winged horse, rose as yet another vision in the sand.

And as the performers circled the arena, the crowd showed its appreciation especially to Lorenzo and his display of total freedom for horses.

It was a beautiful evening of color, art and most importantly, horses.