I know I promised I’d be more cheerful today but it’s raining. It’s also too early for bourbon, so take me or leave me in the cold, grumpy state in which I find myself. While the first dozen or so horses make their way through a damp Grand Prix in front of a mostly empty grand stand – no wonder they slashed ticket prices – I’ll try to remember two days ago when it was a lovely sunset and we were in shirt sleeves. 

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Sunset over Kentucky Horse Park, poetry disturbed only by the presence of gaited horses with mustard on their heals, ginger up their asses and sadness in their souls. 

A few more ruminations on the opening ceremonies. When I compare them to the other WEG opening ceremonies I’ve seen, they are firmly in last place (and Spain will probably always be my favourite, though memory is kind and it was my first WEG experience). The ceremonies here, I think, tried to carry too many themes and to be inclusive to too many interest groups. And really, there were too many drill teams. Some of the parts I enjoyed most were those when the ceremonies were being unabashedly American, starting with the spiritual singers doing the US anthem. I think that was the first time I ever got goose bumps hearing the Stars and Stripes. The live music – from the orchestra to Wynona Judd singing My Old Kentucky Home to the marching band to the choir to the bluegrass band who must have left the stage with bleeding fingers after playing the same musical phrase for the entire athlete parade – was definitely a highlight, despite the screeching of the blonde opera singer mentioned in yesterday’s post. I also loved when they had five race horses come in and gallop around the stadium a few times. They should have done that first instead of opening with the naked ballet dancers. They weren’t really naked but they sure looked it. The cheerleaders were great too, though I wonder how those two fat girls sneaked in on one end of the troupe. 

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This is what I thought my sea monkeys would look like.  

Now if you are a fan of  gaited horses (and no, I don’t agree that Totilas is a ‘gaited’ warmblood), you might want to skip this part. Of course they had to have the American Saddlebred demonstration because it’s an American breed after all, and Standardbreds are too ugly. But Cripes almighty that was painful to watch. They were a living, snorting smorgasbord of everything that the FEI’s horse welfare policy doesn’t stand for. Broken tails, weighted shoes, riders slamming up and down like pistons on the kidneys; and gaited or not, half  most of them just looked lame. Maybe they should impose drug testing on the demonstration horses at these events. I’d love to see what the results would  turn up on that lot. It was proudly announced during the flail-fest that in the ring at one time were the winners of 40 World Championships. Just like the World Series of baseball – ‘world’ used loosely to mean ‘the world of America’. A truly hideous display with strong overtones of freak show. Does anyone know if all the male riders of gaited horses are gay or are there straight men who think saddle suits are cool?

So the opening ceremonies went on and on, and we finally gave up and left just as the poor Cowboy Dressage trainer got hauled off in an ambulance after collapsing from his horse after exiting the stadium – the first casualty of the WEG and the competition hadn’t even begun. All right. Since I’m still in such a black mood about everything (the piss pouring rain isn’t helping), here are a few more gripes. I’m still getting no joy from the internet in the stadium, nor is anyone else. We have a choice of two networks, but apparently they are really the same because they go down together. They should have hired Starbucks to handle the internet. It’s day four and the problem still isn’t fixed? This is America! Can’t you just go out and buy a whole new system with all that money you are making on $20 dollar parking? And continuing in the vein of being royally ripped off, do you know what we have to pay for a bottle of water here in the media centre? $2.75. If I didn’t know better I’d think I was at an airport. Covering their bare costs on that are they? Only if they are importing the water directly from the Evian spring in France on a Concorde. Know how much I would have to pay to wash down my peanut butter or baloney sandwich with a bottle of water at the Furnace Mountain Store down the road from our hillbilly love shack? 59 cents. 

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Me, chillaxin’ at the shack. It looks nicer on the inside, really it does. 

Just so no one feels left out of the money grab here are a couple of treats being extended to the spectators. When they got to the entrance on this sad, wet day, any people carrying umbrellas were told they could not bring them in. No, they could walk back the half kilometer through the wet grass to their $20 parking spot and put the umbrella in the car. I saw my good pals Lisa and Chris from The Great White North as I was going through the guarded entrance to the stadium. I found them slack-jawed with awe, having just learned that once they enter the stadium with their tickets, they can’t leave again – or rather they can, but they won’t be getting back into the stadium during the session that ticket is for. So if Lisa and Chris wanted to go out during a quiet moment (which they did) and patronize the trade fair, they would not be allowed back in. I’ve checked with one trade show vendor who was not aware of that fact until I told her. She paid $10,000 for an outdoor booth here – indoor booths are 15 grand – and her booth is pretty quiet during the competition because no one who bought a ticket can go to the trade fair without losing access to the competition that they paid dearly to attend. Paying dearly is quickly becoming the BIG THEME of this WEG. 

I have lots to say already about the dressage – like what’s with that 10% difference in what Evi Eisenhardt and Linda Zang thought they saw in Anabel Balkenhol’s ride this morning? I wonder if the judges will come to the press conference. I’m already psyching myself up to ask that question in case they do. More tomorrow!