|American rider, Steffan Peters on his gelding, Ravel, obviously pleased after an amazing ride|
We had tickets for dressage, an Olympic sport requiring the highest level of partnership between human and equine. Most of the horses that perform at this level are in their mid-teens. Horses competing into their late teens or even early twenties is not unheard of. (This is one of the reasons why I love dressage - a true partnership develops over the years that is amazing to watch - these horses are cherished and loved - it is not a sport for "throwaway animals.")
Last night was the musical freestyle competition - similar to watching the freestyle figure skating finals at the Olympics. Horse and rider combinations are required to perform specific high level compulsory movements but get to take some artistic license with music and choreography - making a finished performance look like a beautiful dance between two perfectly coordinated partners.
The performance was sold out. Attendance was almost 50,000; the atmosphere electric and the competition nothing short of amazing. The high score was a goose-bump inspiring 91.8% to bring home a gold medal for the Netherlands. Any of the top five riders could have been the winner - and special mention must go to the Spanish rider and his beautiful stallion who had the audience stomping their feet and clapping their hands in time to his music.
After the awards presentation, over forty five thousand people poured out of the stands towards the cars and shuttle buses in the makeshift parking lot on the fields surrounding the Kentucky Horse Park. And there we sat. And sat. And sat. Gridlock. I couldn't help but make the comparison to the perception of homeless pet problems in America: Too many cars, not enough homes. How are we ever going to get all these cars moving through the system in an orderly fashion? Tempers were flaring, horns honking, parking lot attendants were stressed, flailing their light wands around and trying to make sense of the mess.
All sorts of sinister thoughts passed through my mind. What if we run out of gas? What if the car in front of us runs out of gas? What if there is an accident? What if there is a fist fight? What if somebody needs an ambulance? We might be here in this field FOREVER.....