Sunday, September 26, 2010

Let the Games Begin!

The ceremony opened with a classic orchestral prelude - Fanfare for the Common Man. Think "Field of Dreams" if you aren't familiar. The opening involved two-legged performers first - some beautiful ballet, and the "celebration crew" which were people dressed in white wearing artistic horse heads. Our first equine stars were ridden by representatives of Native American tribes, and a Lakota chief spoke a prayer for all the nations. His horse sure looks a lot like one we used to have at OBF! Casino, anyone? And here is some eye candy for the ladies:

I am sure I might recall some of this out of order, or leave something out, but it was a long day and I could not manage to stay up and write this when I got back to the hotel!

We watched the riders from Culver Acadamey's Black Horse Troop and Equestriennes do some very precise drill team work as their colorguard brought in the American flag. Horses behaved very well, and the girls did a great job riding. Each one was carrying a full size flag in one hand and holding the reins in the other, and every one hit their marks. A few of the horses got a bit antsy while the American Spiritual Ensemble sang the national anthem (quite lovely arrangement with the orchestra) but even the riders with horses that started acting up never seemed to lose their composure. The anthem was done well, but if you have ever been to a Chicago Blackhawks game, you know that nothing compares to that experience!

The program moved on to a section entitled "Salute to Kentucky" which featured a group of American Saddlebred horses, both ridden and driven, and some great bluegrass music performed by the group Cherryholmes. William Shatner even drove one of his Saddlebreds as a special guest. People kept exclaiming about the long tails the horses had and I didn't have the heart to tell them that the horses wore extensions! It was fun to watch, and amazing to learn that the 8 or so horses in the arena at that time had won over 40 World Championships between them. They did bring some Thoroughbreds in for a "race" around the track, which was won by the great Chris McCarron. I was impressed at the way all of the other horses seemed nonplussed by the small group of TBs literally racing around the outside of the ring.
The salute to Kentucky closed with Wynonna Judd singing "My Old Kentucky Home." I was surprised that it looked like she was reading music off a stand - heck, she's a KY native, I would have thought she would know the words :)

Next it was time for the parade of athletes, which while not as long as an Olympic parade, sure took a long time. The roar of the crowd when the US team was announced was pretty special. I have never been at an event like this where riders are representing their country for a world title, and it made me really want to be in their shoes. Someday.

More to come later - I have a free day and plan to head over to Churchill Downs after a stroll around Louisville. Weather has been great so far! I have so many pictures, but as it got darker after the sun went down, and while my seat had a good view, my flash could not do much from so far away. Should have better pics from the dressage competition starting Monday!

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