Here is a list of my favorite things about the 2010 World Equestrian Games (soon to be ending on Sunday, October 10).
A -- Australia's event team members, Peter Atkins and his wonderful horse, Henry Jota Hampton (known affectionately by all as "Henny")!
B -- BOYD
C -- Canadian eventers!!!
D -- Dressage drama
E -- EVENTING!
F -- Britain's tall, cool, calm, and collected eventer (and individual silver medalist): William Fox-Pitt
G -- Great Britain's gold medal-winning event team
H -- Helmets worn by the various competitors in warm-up or when otherwise not "required" in order to protect themselves against potential head injury. I would also like to mention the great news coverage and "helmet updates" given frequently by http://www.riders4helmets.com/!
I -- The Italian event team who put in a good showing and has deepened the field for the various national teams in international competitions. I also want to mention that the Italian event horse, Iman du Golfe (who cut his shoulder at the corner fence #20 on cross-country) was stitched and treated at Rood & Riddle and is expected to make a full recovery.
J -- The Jump Jet and his rider, Capt. Geoff Curran, of the Irish eventing team. I loved watching them go this weekend and get their chance on the world stage! I hope to see more great outtings for this pair in the future.
K -- Kentucky Horse Park. I've been there numerous times, and I compete there myself, but I'm sure it was like nothing I've ever seen before these past two weeks. Way to go Bluegrass State!
L -- Laura Bechtolsheimer of Great Britain rode Mistral Horjis to 3 silver medals last week: one for team dressage, one for individual dressage, and one for the freestyle. This is the first time in 32 years that a British dressage rider has medaled in international competition....and she did it 3 times!
M -- Michael Jung of Germany who won the individual gold medal in eventing by being strong from wire-to-wire, showing his mastery of all 3 phases of the eventing competition. He and La Biosthetique-Sam FBW were outstanding on show jumping day, sealing the deal with a solid and unquestionably dominating double-clear round. It was beautiful to behold!
N -- Andrew Nicholson and the New Zealand event team! Great job by Andrew to move up the leader board and snag an individual bronze medal! Great job by New Zealand for taking the bronze team medal, as well. Those old guys (Andrew and Mark) still got it!!!
O -- The 2012 Olympics are now right around the corner and for the U.S. (particularly the show jumping and eventing teams) there needs to be some serious work and re-organizing going on before we are ready to present outstanding teams to the world in London. As John stated on Eventing Nation: "But perhaps the biggest frustration is the notion that our eventing team could potentially write the WEGs off as bad luck and head to London with a similar strategy." I, personally, do not think the U.S. fans, competitors, and the past and future team riders will let this happen. Everyone seems very disenchanted right now, so what better opportunity is there to bring about a revolution in our nation's approach to building an international team?
P -- Para-equestrians and the para-dressage competition. Competing the first time at a WEG and having a great time while in town. Congrats to Sophie Wells of Great Britain on her individual and team gold medals, proving yet again that the Brits know their way around international equestrian competitions.
Q -- Quarter horses everywhere in the reining competition!!!
R -- The U.S. reiners stole the show! Great job by all those guys on their home turf. I just wish Shawn Flarida and RC Fancy Step hadn't had the broken stirrup in the individual competition. But, they'll be back!
S -- Steffen Peters (U.S. dressage rider) who won bronze as an individual and bronze in the freestyle competition. He also repeatedly demonstrated tremendous class as he honored his friend Courtney King-Dye and dedicated his medal-winning freestyle performance to her as she continues to fight to recover from a devastating head injury incurred during a fall from a young horse this past spring. His helmet-wearing sparked nods and applause from riders and horse enthusiasts everywhere, and I can only hope his example will be followed by all (professionals, amateurs; competitors and joy-riders) in the days and weeks to follow. You're a class act, Steffen!
T -- Moorlands Totilas. Need I elaborate????
U -- Universal Sports and NBC for their great online and television coverage of all the action for those of us who couldn't be there in person!
V -- All the many, many volunteers who made the competition possible. As a competitor at equestrian competitions that could never be held without the help of volunteers, I know how important each and every one of them is. As a frequent volunteer myself, I know that it is hard work, yet rewarding, and thanks to all of the workers at WEG these past 2 weeks (not to mention the countless years/months/days of preparations leading up to and after the games, as well).
W -- Jimmy Wofford, for his involvement on every level in the games and, particularly, the eventing competition. "The Woff" as a legend in U.S. eventing provides great commentary on t.v., an entertaining and educational XC course walk the day before cross-country, and his online blog is funny, honest, and endearing....as always. We're very lucky to have him as a leader and as a personality in our great sport!
X -- XC!!! Congratulations to Michael Ethrington-Smith and Mick Costello and his team for such a truly beautiful and challenging (yet fair and appropriate) XC course. It will be sad to see ME-S retire, but he has provided a legacy that will be put to good use as courses are designed, built, and developed for years and years to come.
Y -- Kyle Carter. Yes, I know this is a stretch, but we all love Kyle and his infectious good humor, as well as his total dedication to the sport. We also love that Kyle leads and guides the USEA Area III Young Riders every year....so, there is your "Y," folks!
Z -- Zeal! That sums up the amazing rides of the Canadian eventers on cross-country day. And, to prove that point, I present this video in total and perfect evidence of this concept: Jessica Phoenix and Exponential at the "Land Between the Lakes" water complex. This is how you do NOT want your horse to jump a blind drop into the water, but if you have a horse with the zeal and courage of Exponential (and you can ride like Jessica) then it's a fitting display of enthusiasm, horsemanship, and the determination it takes to be an eventer.