September 25th – Wow what a day! It has been incredible and exciting! Mom says the main reason she started planning this trip was to attend the World Equestrian Games and today was the Opening Ceremonies, so here we are! But let’s start at the beginning.
We started off the day in Danville, after all we’d stopped there for the night. Here’s a picture of the hotel like I promised. It was a good place to stay. I found some fascinating things to look out and see from the window. Mom wasn’t sure what I saw since all she could see was grass and trees, but I assure you it was fascinating!
We loaded up the car and I saw these folks out in the field beside the hotel. Boy were they interesting! Sometimes I find things exciting that mom doesn’t understand, but one thing she knows is that I LOVE people.
After she finished loading up we headed out. Almost immediately after getting on the free way we crossed into Indiana. Like I said yesterday, I figured this was no big deal. But right after we crossed the border – whatever that is – we pulled off the road again. This time at a rest stop. This is the first rest stop we’ve been to since our first trip from Missouri to home and that one I don’t remember. Mom says this is a special rest stop because it has a Welcome Center. We went inside and picked up some information about Indiana and a map – she has an Atlas with her, but she says it’s always good to have a full map of the state too since the Atlas might not have all the roads. She said she’d like to stop and see at least one thing on the way but that we had to get to Kentucky today. I don’t know what Kentucky is but she says it’s like Iowa and Illinois and Indiana, so going across the border should be no big deal either.
We got back on the road and started driving again. There’s not a lot to say, the scenery was pretty much like Illinois, big fields maybe a few more trees. Mom also was talking to her friend that we are meeting in Kentucky and realized we had less time than she thought – she had forgotten we’d be going into a new time zone. I’m not sure how a time zone affects things but she knows. I laid down and went to sleep on the floor.
When we got to Indianapolis things got a little more interesting, but it took us forever! Mom said it should have taken us 15-30 minutes to make the drive on the freeway around the city. It took us at least an hour and a half! The reason is there was a ton of construction. You can see it in the pictures. Mom kept wondering if we’d ever get out of the construction, and we finally did when we got on the next freeway!
We had our first stop for gas south of Indianapolis. It was pretty crowded, and we didn’t stay long, but I managed to get a picture anyway.
We kept going, but I started to notice some change. Look at how many trees there are! Nearly all the fields are surrounded by trees, not just outcroppings here and there. And lots of trees on the sides of the road.
We just kept driving so I slept and popped my head up once in a while to look around. It was pretty much like yesterday. Mom had hoped to stop somewhere in Indiana, probably Indianapolis, but we really needed to get to Kentucky she said. I didn’t understand why but now I do!
So finally we got to Kentucky and I popped my head up just in time to see the welcome sign! Well at least that’s what mom says it is. I also saw some tall buildings! Wow, we don’t have anything like that at home.
We got out of town though and settled down to more driving. And now I really started to see different scenery. It was pretty amazing. We drove through several areas like this. I’ve never seen anything like it!Take a look at the shale on either side of the road. There are also a lot more hills, not just plains. It is really cool! I also noticed that the fields have fences around them. And not just wire fences either – these have real wooden fences. Mom says they are pasture for the horses, but I didn’t really see any horses, just big open fields with fences around them.
Mom was getting excited as we approached Lexington. She talked to her friend again and let her know we were almost there. Because of the delay in Indianapolis we wouldn’t have a lot of time from when we got there until we had to leave for the event. I didn’t know what was going on but I’m happy to go wherever mom takes me. We got to this little hotel, not near as nice as the one we stayed at last night, but mom says it’s a lot more expensive because of the events we’re going to. Then mom got really excited to see her friend! I’ve never met this friend before, but mom says that she and her friend went to college together and graduated together. They both moved around but ended up living in Michigan at the same time. They haven’t seen each other in about 8 years or so though so they were very excited to get together again.
We didn’t have a lot of time though, we got back in the car and headed for what my mom called the Kentucky Horse Park which this year is hosting the World Equestrian Games. I don’t know what all that means but it sounds pretty exciting and mom and her friend were definitely excited. They kept saying they had been planning this trip for 5 years since they heard the World Equestrian Games would be held in the United States for the first time. Since mom is on disability she didn’t know how she would be able to come. But her wonderful friend helped her and mom is just cutting corners to be able to take this trip. I’m really glad mom is on this trip, she needed to get away.
Anyway, off we headed to the Horse Park. Her friend had arranged a bus pass but we decided to drive out there. And wow were there a lot of cars parked there. There must be tons of people here! I posed excitedly while some of the people took my picture while we waited in line to get on the shuttle.
It got more exciting as we got to the front gates of the park. Mom debated if she should have brought me because there is apparently a tick borne illness that is a big worry in the equestrian world. But I don’t know if she would have handled it well without me. I may not be as good as Tamarr, but at least I was there. And besides, this was so exciting, I would not have wanted to miss it!
There were a lot of people here to see the Opening Ceremonies. And the stadium was huge! I looked around excitedly and took it all in. Other than pulling a little on my leash because I wanted to see what was next, I behaved pretty well though.
Before we went into the stadium, mom needed to get something to eat. We hadn’t had time before we came over to the Horse Park. There weren’t many options, so we got some pizza. Mom said it was really good, but she wouldn’t let me have any. I had eaten before we left the hotel for the Horse Park but I would have loved some more! The line for the pizza was long, but everyone loved me and I got to see my first glimpse of horses at the Horse Park.
We finally got into the stadium, but unfortunately we missed most of the blessing, only catching the very end of it. It was a native american blessing on the games.
I was really excited by this time and had trouble settling down to climb up the bleachers to our seats. But my mom managed and we squeezed past a whole bunch of people to get into the middle seats we had. Everyone around us was very nice and made room for me. Being only 15 months old, I was pretty excitable. I’ve never been around so much energy. And there was an amazing amount of energy in that stadium! In fact, I’ve never been in a stadium at all, but I walked up the stairs like a pro not even balking at the feel of metal beneath my feet like some dogs would. The bleachers were pretty sturdy but they shook a bit still, but I hardly noticed. Of course, my excitement wouldn’t have had anything to do with that.
Anyway, this is where the day REALLY gets exciting. We sat and watched so many wondrous performers. I didn’t understand everything, after all I’ve never seen this before. But I watched in fascination as the horses moved around. Mom and her friend talked about what was happening and I listened excitedly. Mom loves horses and used to ride a lot. She once dreamed of riding professionally or maybe even in the Olympics but I guess that circumstances didn’t allow it.
We tried to get a lot of pictures. Unfortunately, mom needs a better camera for stuff like this, so many pictures came out blurry, out of focus or just too dark. I wish mom could get a better camera but we’ll just have to survive with this one for now. However, I digress. I’m just so excited about it all, I don’t know where to start!
There was so much to see, so I can’t tell about it all. But here are some of the better pictures that we were able to take.
Mom says it’s really hard to ride in formation. The Cavalry presented the colours. I was amazed that they could get so many horses riding next to each other in so many formations!
Mom would rather watch horses than the vocal performers, but we did snap this one picture of Winona Judd. Mom likes her music. We didn’t get a good picture of the Parade of Nations, but here’s one. It was so exciting to see them all. I wish we’d be able to see more of them in competition, but alas this event is all we will see of the actual games. Originally she had planned to see at least three events, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. At least we saw the Opening Ceremony though!
All today’s horses trace their roots back in some way to the Arabian horse. It was fascinating to see the horses and riders in traditional garb. I would have loved to get down there and take a closer look. I get to see horses from time to time and there were horses on the farm where I was born. But to see them like this, wow!
The Frisian Train took the stage. They were amazing! One, then two, then four, then I don’t know how many. They were incredible to watch.
The presentation of the FEI flag was again a riding formation. It was amazing to watch them move together.
The Andalusian is a really incredible horse. And this rider and his stallion were truly amazing. I wish the picture were clearer as we caught it perfectly. The rider’s hands are so light to the touch. Mom has seen him perform before but it’s been years. She loved it. They also performed with the ballet. Mom was so fascinated she forgot to take pictures until close to the end, but she did get one. It was amazing to watch the people on the ground dancing with the horse and rider.
The next guy was fascinating too. Two horses and one rider standing on them. I’d never have dreamed of such. My mom used to do vaulting and she says it’s hard enough to stand on one cantering horse. She’s never tried two at once, let alone controlling them as well.
The California Cowgirls came up, followed by some fancy rope work. I’ve never seen anyone performing with a rope like that. Wow they did some amazing stuff jumping through the rope while twirling it. Mom says she tried using a lariat when she was at Ricks College, but was never good at it.
The liberty work was amazing. She does a lot of training with me with no leash or collar or anything, but these horses do far more than I can! Maybe I should learn from them. Mom especially loved watching them work.
Mom had never heard of Western Dressage, but Dressage is mom’s favorite discipline. She thought Reigning was the closest that western riders came to Dressage, and that is fun to watch she says. He was really amazing, light touch, beautiful movements. I learned a lot listening to mom and her friend talk.
Mom’s always loved riding bareback she says, but this woman did even more – no saddle, no bridle, no whip or other aid just her and her horse. I wish we had a better picture of it, but this was the best one. Maybe someday mom and I will move in such coordinated harmony.
Everyone joined in singing “This Land Is Our Land.” Mom was glad I didn’t try to join in too.
Visiting all the different areas of the US, they also had a Mardi Gras parade full of bright and colourful wagons and some miniature horse and even a miniature donkey that sometimes got stubborn. Mom said that’s common in donkeys, much like dogs. She couldn’t mean I’m stubborn sometimes!?!
The only other performer that mom took a picture of was the Haitian children. The Opening Ceremonies closed as many of the performers returned and joined the Mardi Gras parade.
It was so exciting! Every time people stood up to watch, I jumped up as well. I know I’m supposed to lie quietly but it was just all so exciting. I had never seen such spectacular. Mom says Tamarr would quietly take it all in. Maybe someday I’ll learn to do that too, but today I was excited!
While we walked down the stairs and out of the stadium, we were delighted to see the Andalusian and one of the Frisians return to do an apparently spontaneous Pas de Deux or maybe they were practicing. It was incredible to watch them again.
It was an amazing incredible day full of things I never dreamed of in my whole life! I can’t wait to see what the rest of this trip holds. If traveling is like this, I love it!
Danville, IL to Winchester, KY