Living in Lexington, KY is a little crazy right now, but crazy in a good way. We call ourselves the Horse Captial of the World all the time, but with the World Equestrian Games now moments away, our enthusiasm for all things horse has reached a fever pitch. Even driving down the highway you’ll notice that billboards for non-horsey businesses are equestrian themed. Downtown Lexington is gearing up for 16 days of festivities to run alongside the WEG. And of course, local curmudgeons are already griping about the street closures and traffic backups caused by a huge influx of tourists, even though these things haven’t happened yet.
Saunders gave a presentation and demo where he went into the history of the sport. He is British by nationality, but drives for the U.S. now. His early experiences as a professional driver included driving for the royal family. He attended driving competitions as a groom for Prince Phillip and drove one of the carriages carrying royalty in the famous wedding of Princess Diana. Not a bad way to get started in the business.
While big European Warmbloods are the norm in combined driving, the horses on Saunders’ team are a bit more like the horses that most of us have at home. In his presentation, he had photos of the horses’ owner’s granddaughters (ages 2 and 5) taking riding lessons on the horses. When we had the chance to go meet the horses in the barn, they were all friendly and curious like good Morgans should be.
But trust me, once he hitches them up, they don’t look much like your average backyard pleasure horse at all. These guys are all business.
The team is the underdog, for sure, but I’m looking forward to watching them and cheering them on anyway. Driving competition runs Oct. 7-10.