There was great competition, I’ll give you that. And when the stands were full, they were full of some of the most enthusiastic spectators that equestrian sports have even seen. And the people of Lexington, of whom a huge percentage were volunteering at WEG, are some of the nicest people on earth. I know it was a herculean task to manage all those volunteers and 500,000 spectators over the 8 disciplines and 16 days of the World Equestrian Games.
A few cool moments that have stayed with me:
- Totilas. Everything about him was fun to watch, but I really, really liked the shiny gold bell boots that he wore during the awards.
- If you were watching the Freestyle on streaming video or tv, you would have no idea what it was like to be on the floor of the arena when 25,000 fans caught Latin Dance Fever from Fuego. It was a wall of sound: cheering, stamping, the stands vibrating, the very ground vibrating, people waving flags if they had them and waving anything else if the didn’t have them.
- Arriving on the first day of show jumping to see an army of 5,000 school children swarming in from the parking lot. Now, I’m really selective about the children I spend time with, and I’m in no way a fan of epic herds of children, and by the time I got to the gate I felt a little bit like Gulliver in Lilliput. But this group was so thrilled and excited to be at the Horse Park that I forgot my preconceptions. Even the teachers and chaperones seemed to be having a good time!
- Crosscountry. I have been photographing eventing for over 30 years. It was my first equestrian love! I was in Lexington in 1978 for the Three Day World Championships, and I’ve photographed there many times in the intervening years, everything from Pony Club Nationals to Rolex. This was a big, technical, visually stunning course, with a level of workmanship in the jumps that was eye-popping and memorable. And it was great to see fit horses galloping out with confidence, and then returning home, jumping the big jumps with their knees tucked up to their eyeballs, making these massive obstacles look easy.
- Golf cart mania. Yeah, I would have liked to have had one at my disposal. But it was such fun seeing the flags and decorations that each team festooned their cart with.