March 2010 Issue
Travel to Lexington, Kentucky, for the 2010 World Equestrian Games, featuring 16 days of horse-related competitions, events and activities.
Horse lovers will have a new reason to visit Kentucky this year: Aside from the usual racetracks, farm tours, museums and stables, the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will be held in Lexington, Sept. 25–Oct. 10. This is the first time in the event’s 20-year history that it will be held in the United States.
It’s only fitting that Lexington, nestled in the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass region, will host this year’s games. But it’s not just the state’s famed thoroughbreds or 450 horse parks that make it a prime destination for the event. The Kentucky Horse Park (kyhorsepark.com), a 1,200-acre venue, is the perfect location for both the competition and an array of activities that will surround the games.
“The fact that Kentucky is considered the horse capital of the world certainly played a role in our having been awarded the World Equestrian Games,” says Cindy Rullman, associate director of marketing and public relations for the Kentucky Horse Park. “But also, the Kentucky Horse Park specifically was awarded the games. We have what is probably the finest equestrian facility in the world.”
The park has always served Kentucky and the region as a working horse farm, competition facility, educational center and theme park. Now, it will become the first venue where all eight of the game’s competitions are held in one spot.
Those familiar with the games know that they break down into eight disciplines, or competitions. Much like the Olympics, tickets will be available for individual events, including dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, para dressage, reining and vaulting (see page 52). Tickets to the competitions allow visitors to explore the entire arena, including the equine village, a trade fair complete with entertainment like equine performers, educational presentations and booths for kids.
“We really want something for everybody,” says Rullman. “You don’t have to know anything about horses to enjoy this. It’s going to be a great family atmosphere.”
Visitors can buy general admission tickets that will give them access to equine village’s entertainment, and people who buy tickets to the competitions will automatically be admitted to the extra activities.
Additionally, The International Museum of the Horse (imh.org), located in the Kentucky Horse Park, will host an exhibition entitled “A Gift from the Desert: The Art, History and Culture of the Arabian Horse,” May 29–Oct. 15. Visitors can see between 300 and 350 artifacts and works of art that explore the impact horses had on Near Eastern civilizations. An hour-long film of the same name will also be playing in the exhibition space.
The International Equestrian Festival will run concurrently with the games, although it is not affiliated with the event. It will take place during the same 16-day period and is designed to complement the games with celebrity speakers and demonstrators, plus clothing, jewelry and other products that will appeal to riders and non-riders alike.
“It’s all about putting together the full-circle experience for people who are coming to visit Kentucky,” says Kimberly E. Brown, founder and managing partner of Horse Capital Productions, the company organizing the festival.
It will be held daily at the convention center in the Lexington Center, 1–9 p.m., so that people who attend the morning competitions can go to the festival in the afternoon.
Celebrity speakers include Mark Peterson, who has appeared on the History Channel’s “MonsterQuest” and will perform demonstrations with his horse, Dusty, and Julie Goodnight, host of “Horse Master,” a reality show on RFD-TV. Goodnight, known for her horse-training techniques and clinicals, is also sponsoring the event, and will be there for the entire 16 days, giving demonstrations and a presentation at the Kentucky Horse Council’s seminar for first-time horse owners.
There will also be an indoor demonstration arena, Polytrack® Park, a synthetic track that will host a constant schedule of live demonstrations, such as horse showing and saddle fitting.
The festival will also be the pick-up and drop-off location for horse farm tours. Those interested in touring facilities such as Three Chimneys Farm, home of Kentucky Derby winners Smarty Jones and Big Brown, can purchase tickets online at horsecapitaltours.com.
“This is possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Rullman says. “We don’t know if the games will ever be in the U.S. again.”
- Dressage, or training, is a demonstration of movements and gaits that show the symbiotic relationship achieved between horse and rider.
- Driving shows a rider’s ability to control four horses through three different courses. Judging is based on a variety of skills, including harmony, stamina and obedience of the horses.
- Endurance is a race that covers 100 miles and tests the horse’s speed. There are five mandatory stops along the way so that veterinarians can test the animal’s endurance. The horse and rider that make it to the finish line first win.
- Eventing is a three-day test of both the horse and the rider, with three separate events that involve tests of training and jumping in both natural and man-made terrain. It is also designed to test the horse’s endurance after three days of competing.
- Jumping tests the relationship between a horse and rider with a series of obstacles. Riders get penalties if the horse refuses to jump or knocks down an obstacle and if they exceed the allotted time.
- Para Dressage allows riders with physical disabilities to ride in dressage and driving competitions. This is the first time para dressage has been included in the World Equestrian Games
- Reining tests a horse’s athletic ability by having it run several different patterns, such as circles, spins and sliding stops.
- Vaulting combines gymnastic and dance elements performed to music on a cantering horse. Routines comprised of mounts, dismounts, shoulder stand and handstands allow judges to decide who has the best overall technique, balance and consideration for the horse.