In the final week of the Games I managed to break away from the hospital and see some more of the competitions, which was an unexpected treat! The cross country was definitely the highlight. The course was amazing and proved a challenging task. The carnage on the scoreboard speaks for itself--of the 79 competitors that performed in the dressage phase, only 55 got through to the showjumping phase. Some combinations were lost through elimination or falls on the course, and others failed to pass the second vet check.
On Sunday morning, before the showjumping commences, the horses must trot sound in front of the veterinary judging panel. After the grueling course of 28 solid fences, there were undoubtedly some people up all night massaging stiff backs, and icing and hot-packing sore and tired legs to get the horses sound for the scrutiny of the vets the following morning. It is against FEI rules to give the horses any pharmaceutical drug during the competition, so eventing is a test of not only the horse and rider's skill and ability to perform but also their natural endurance.
I also got to see some of the showjumping--both for the eventing and the team final of the pure showjumping, which was spectacular. It was interesting to see how different the styles of showjumping are between the two disciplines. In eventing, the fact the horses have ridden a hard cross-country the day before, so that has been taken into account, and the showjumping is relatively smaller. However, the course still stands at 130 cm, which is no mean feat for tired legs! The pure showjumpers ride much quicker as time is more of an issue. The course was unbelievably technical and the jumps stood at a massive 160cm high and wide, which makes for entertaining viewing!
Now the games are finished; the mass exodus from the Kentucky Horse Park and the return of the thousands of spectators to their respective countries has left Lexington feeling like a ghost town by comparison. I too have returned home and back to reality. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the World Equestrian Games and in Kentucky but unfortunately all good things must come to an end!
Here are a few photos...
This is a barrier put up around an injured horse on the course, to care for the horse in a secluded environment.
This is the horse ambulance, which was present at all times on the cross-country course. If any horse got injured on the course, it received prompt treatment and was safely removed from the course to be treated in either the clinic or the hospital.