The day started out like this: feed the horses, dawgs and cats, then get in the car, start it up, drive out the driveway and turn west. Even though we are going to the Kentucky Horse Park for the World Equestrian Games, a destination decidedly east of our home in central Iowa, we turn west because the interstate is just a bit west of our house. After that little jog, it is east and south, then east and south again, all day long until we arrive at our hotel, the Lexington Hilton Green. Pretty fancy stuff and I am very grateful to Purina for providing our hotel and my tickets for this grand outing to the World Equestrian Games. I am in the land of glass elevators and horse art on every wall. Yeeha.
We are going to be at the park Saturday through Tuesday. We will see the Opening ceremonies, 4 sessions of reining, 4 sessions of team dressage, and endurance day. Any way you cut it, this is going to be fun. I don’t know an actual thing about reining. For endurance, I spent a summer conditioning a string of arabs for endurance, so I have a small clue about that. For dressage I have a moderate clue, but when people who ride Grand Prix talk, I listen. Looking forward to some huge brain-expanding spectating.
This is going to be an adventure in a lot of ways! First off, the drive out here is 10 hours. Hubby Jay and I are traveling light in the Honda Camry – no truck, no trailer, no horses, no dogs, no ride times, no students, no tack, no worries! I love every last one of the afore-mentioned things, but they also each have a responsibility attached to them that, for the next 5 days, I won’t be carrying. The caveat to that is that a few of my students are competing this weekend at the Otter Creeek Horse Trial in Wheeler Wisconsin. I was supposed to be there to coach them, but the WEG tickets became available, and, well, the WEG won, though northern Wisconsin in the autumn is gorgeous. However, the Kentucky Horse Park pretty much is the US Horse Mecca and this is the first time the WEG has been in our country, so, um, it wins. My students are going to be coached by another very competent trainer colleague, so everything is set. But I will be following their scores on the internet, checking for text updates on my phone and cheering them on from here. We did some texting this afternoon and they made it through dressage just fine and are looking forward to xc tomorrow. Rained a lot up there, but the sandy footing should hold up quite well.
Now back to Lexington. Purina is a company that does things right (for instance, they do feeding trials and long-term research at their St Louis Research Facility that no other feed company even dreams of committing to. That is one reason why their feeds perform so well in practice.) So, in the spirit of doing it right, my tickets are pretty snazzy, with VIP hospitality and don’t forget the Maker’s Mark Bourbon Village. Yessir. I’m looking giddily forward to that and I am going to thoroughly enjoy it. Meanwhile, I bought tickets for Jay from an internet list. Somebody’s plans to go to the WEG were dashed for whatever reason, so I swooped in like any shameless carpet-bagger and bought dressage tickets for Monday and Tuesday from her. Sure I’m an opportunist vulture, but hey, at least she made some dough off something that next Tuesday night would be useless rectangles of paper. Instead, a check is speeding her way from me this morning via our friends at the USPS and Jay is on his way to watching some serious dressage fabulousness.
For Saturday and Sunday, we are going to either purchase Jay’s reining tickets online and print them out at the hotel tonight or buy them at the gate tomorrow morning. Lots of people wonder about the self-printed tickets, but I’m a technology believer. In any event, I have three event tickets for tomorrow, (sessions I and II for Reining and Opening Ceremonies) and each ticket includes a grounds pass which gets both of us into everything else in the park, so we are good to go even if we do nothing.
So Jay and I will be having different spectating experiences at the WEG. I’ll be in the rare air with the VIPs and Jay will be in with the Great Horse-loving Unwashed (GHU) up where the air gets thin. My theory is that, for the most part, I will be among people who like horses, but don’t do the daily feeding and stall cleaning. If they ride, they ride in an indoor arena that never has cobwebs or dust. They hire people to haul their horses to shows and may compete, or may sip mint juleps in the shade while the pro competes their horses. Everything’s alright with all that.
Jay’s people may board their horses or may feed and clean up after their horses themselves. If their horses can be seen out their kitchen window, they hired or traded favors with a neighbor or friend to feed their horses while they went to the WEG. They will vary from complete wanna-bes to very advanced riders, tending more to the very knowledgeable, and for the most part they will have a high fun factor. Everything’s alright with that, too. We’ll see how my theory holds up.
More adventure will be had in the shopping department. There is a vendor village at the park that is pretty much a horsebabe’s fantasy. Everything from tack and apparel to cupolas and Big Ass Fans. (I kid you not, it’s real company) The mission so far includes a Hit Air or Point Two Air vest (like car air bags for riders) for me, stadium jump flag holders for Susan, cool rain helmet cover for Sarah and I’m waiting for direction from Vikki regarding her list. Gotta get some souvenirs of course too. If you’ve got a shopping wish list item or two, let me know. If it is horsey and it exists, it can be found at the WEG.
We are going to walk the eventing xc course at some point in our 4 days in the park. It is a 4* course, like Rolex, so I know there will be some wow moments there.
Tonight after we checked in and found a Verizon shop to buy me a phone charger (whoops, left it in Cambridge), we ate at Panda Cuisine here in Lexington which is a trip of an asian restaurant. The food was spectacular, but it is home to a phone with the longest ring I have ever heard (and it was a traditional ring) and to add to the auditory extravaganza, the background music included John Denver and Greensleaves in the same set. I really wanted to stay to see what they would play next, but then there’s the WEG thing to rest up for…
So here’s the plan for the next four days:
Saturday: Reining Session I and II and Opening Ceremonies
Sunday: Reining Session I and II
Monday: Dressage Sessions I and II and Endurance
Tuesday: Dressage Sessions I and II
And somewhere around all that we’ll fit in shopping and course walking and catching some clinicians and whatever other shiny object catches the light. Come back tomorrow when there will be pictures from WEG ground zero and plenty of horsie adventures at the WEG. Besides the fabulosity of the horses, we’ll have adventures including riding the shuttle to the park (when was the last time you were on a bus?) and counting how many times I get called “Honey” very sweetly and endearingly by complete strangers (today’s number was 4, by the way).