It’s been nearly five years since then-Governor Ernie Fletcher announced on December 6, 2005 that the 2010 World Equestrian Games would be in Lexington at the Kentucky Horse Park. And now that day is nearly upon us with the opening ceremonies set for tomorrow evening at 7 p.m.
Expectations in 2005 were high. It was announced the games would likely draw more than 300,000 attendees and millions of television viewers from around the world and would have a potential economic impact of nearly $100 million. Puttingit in terms that Kentuckians would understand, Gov. Fletcher compared this financial impact to the equivalent of hosting two NCAA men's basketball Final Four championships, or a very big deal.
While it remains to be seen the final impact to a state experiencing severe fiscal woes (ticket sales have been below expectations) the fact remains that from Sept. 25 through Oc. 10, Kentucky will be in the world equestrian spotlight.
Like many little girls I grew up with a passion for ponies and horses. I took my first lesson when I was 5 and continued to ride and compete in equestrian events through high school. While collage and a subsequent career and family obligations have temporarily derailed my equestrian pursuits I am thrilled to be covering this event for Louisville.com. I will be reviewing two very different events. The first, taking place tomorrow is the western event of Reining. Then later in the games I will be covering the cross-country portion of three-day Eventing, an English saddle event.
The next two weeks mark a great opportunity to take advantage of a world-class event close to home. Louisville.com's games primer is a a good place review the different types of events, as is the event's website. Some tickets are for grandstand-type seating while other tickets are for more causal walk-around type events, like the cross-country portion of the three-day eventing on Oct. 2. This second type of event may be a great opportunity for children to enjoy the games, where they aren’t confined to a seat.
Of course there will be numerous other opportunities for horse fans beyond the scheduled events as there will be a trade show area set up featuring the latest in equestrian fashions for the horse, rider or the equestrian enthusiast.
The Kentucky Horse Park is just an hour from Louisville, closer if you reside in the East End, and tickets for many of the World Equestrian Games events are still available through Ticketmaster.
Photo: Courtesy Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games
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