Behind the Scenes at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games


It’s all hands on deck at the Kentucky Horse Park. With only one day to go until the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games kick off, the park has been transformed into a global equine village. The normally quiet lanes of America’s horse capital look like rush hour golf-cart style as people race from site to site to finish up last minute preparations. Team grooms from all over the world walk their charges throughout the warm-up areas. Riders mounted on bicycles whiz through the park dressed in team colors. Journalists, foreign and domestic, gather in the media center and NBC Sports’ cameras are set up and ready to go. The weather has been dry and very hot, up into the 100’s on Thursday, but everyone seems to be dealing with the heat so far.

 Dan James at the World Equestrian Games
 One of the opening ceremonies acts rehearses for his performance at the World Equestrian Games. Photo: Shawn Hamilton/

There are famous faces arriving, ready to demonstrate their skills in the Equine Village, such as Pat Parelli, John Lyons and Clinton Anderson. But it’s the opening ceremony performers who are in the spotlight today. Over 1100 people of all ages and walks of life will be featured in the celebration of horses and America. Although they have been practicing since Wednesday, the formal dress rehearsal for the press is tonight at 6pm EST, and horses and riders are busy preparing their charges in the temporary barns on the edges of the park.

Arabian Western trainers Bob and Kathie Hart from Vallejo III, Inc. in Afton, Oklahoma will be part of the parade of horses that will highlight the many breeds and disciplines popular in America. Their daughter Audrey, 22 will be riding her chestnut gelding Vallejo Moon Beam, and Bob Hart will be riding his bay stallion Link To Fame. Kathie Hart will be leading the ranch’s gray stallion, WN Knight Rider in a genuine Bedouin halter, which is part of the “Gift of the Desert” park exhibit sponsored by the Saudi Federation.

“We are thrilled to be part of the opening ceremonies. It’s really something we’ll never get a chance to do again,” says Kathie Hart. “I’ve really enjoyed meeting the other performers. We all have a lot in common, even though we may not ride the same way we all start from good basics of dressage, which is so important to us.”

 Culver Academy at the World Equestrian Games
 Riders from Culver Academy’s Black Horse Troop rehearse for their appearance in the World Equestrian Games opening ceremonies. Photo: Trent Miles

Culver Academies, a co-educational boarding school in Culver, Indiana, represents the largest contingent with over 40 black horses in the ceremonies. The high school students will be carrying both the American flags and FEI flags in a precision ride as well as performing their drill team rides in the Equine Village on Sunday. Erica Bogdan (16) from Haddem, Connecticut has only been riding three years. “I’m amazed to be here,” she says. “The experience is something I won’t forget.”

There was a tense moment today as one of the California Cowgirls collided with her teammate at the gallop during a ‘thread-the-needle’ movement during practice. The horses were checked out by a WEG veterinarian and are fine; the rider was transported to a hospital in Lexington.

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