In 1999, I was assigned a trip to Gladstone, New Jersey, to cover the first-ever United States Equestrian Team Festival of Champions to include reining. It was one step on the long journey to making the Western discipline part of internationally recognized competitions sanctioned by the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI, the International Equestrian Federation).
When I stepped on the plane that’d take me from Amarillo, Texas, to Gladstone, I was nervous and excited. I’d never imagined I’d get to witness, in person, history being made by a sport I’d participated in.
Gladstone, Then Lexington
I attended the USET Festival in New Jersey a handful of times, watching the crowds at the reining arena grow as riders from the English disciplines gained respect for and interest in the signature sliding stops and spins.
In 2010, I was assigned another epic opportunity to watch equestrian sports on the world stage when I covered the first-ever World Equestrian Games (WEG) to be held in the United States. I was amazed by the horsepower, not to mention the caliber of riders from all around the world, that gathered at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
The enormity of the event itself was something I couldn’t have prepared myself for. My hotel was a 90-minute shuttle ride away from the horse park, because hotels nearer to the facility were sold out. The scale of the horse park itself, completely consumed by everything WEG, was overwhelming. And when the spectators filled the seats at the Alltech Arena, they cheered for their home countries’ reiners as if it were a professional football game.
Next Stop: Tryon
The WEG returns to the U.S. this month, this time at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina. Those planning to attend are abuzz about the amenities of the brand-new, world-class facility. (Learn more details in our Travel department on page 20.) Members of the media attending the games, including our own Associate/Digital Editor Nichole Chirico, are considering every angle to determine the chances that the American reining team will hold onto its gold-medal streak.
Read a quick rundown of the members of Team U.S.A. on page 54, including our cover pair—Jordan Larson and ARC Gunnabeabigstar. Be sure to follow along on our social-media outlets for exclusive videos with the riders before the games, as well as behind-the-scenes insights during the WEG reining events, which begin on September 11 with the opening ceremonies and run through September 15 for the team and individual reining competitions. Turn to page 18 in Saddle Chat for complete details about our ongoing coverage.
In This Issue
In addition to getting you ready for WEG, this issue holds as much usable information as you’d expect from H&R. On page 44, begin reading about the worst things you can do to your horse’s feet—are you guilty of any of these blunders? Take in a lesson taught by Amberley Snyder at her PuriShield Win-a-Day contest on page 50. Tune up on 12 focus factors that can make or break your arena performance, as detailed by world-class trainer Robin Frid on page 62.
As ever, let us know what you think about this issue at the email address below, and don’t forget to catch our WEG coverage this month!