Bring on the clowns! And the horses too!
Every Friday Counter-Canter Culture features the important US and International Horse Shows currently under way.
The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014
For once information about world-class equestrian competition is not hard to come by! With the World Equestrian Games on now in Normandy, along with FEI TV, you can actually turn to the big guns like CNN and the BBC for coverage. So today, instead of telling you the highlights of the games, I’m going to share with you four facts about the 2014 World Equestrian Games you probably don’t know.
1. Rio Here We Come
The World Equestrian Games marks the first opportunity among all sports for any nation to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics. The top three national teams in dressage and para-dressage, along side the top five national show jumping teams and top six national eventing teams from the World Equestrian Games are automatically entered in the upcoming Summer Olympics. With team medals already awarded in dressage (picture above), this means gold medalists Germany, silver medalists Great Britain, and bronze medalists Netherlands are the first in the world to say “Rio 2016 here we come!”
2. Alex Hua Tian Is One In A Billion
At the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, we have all become accustomed to seeing the enormous turn out from China. Not so at the World Equestrian Games. This nation of more than a billion people has but one international eventer, and a team total of three competitors.
Alex Hua Tian, son to a British mother and Chinese father, was the youngest eventer in Olympic history as an 18-year-old at the 2008 Beijing Games and returns to the top level of international competition for the first time with these 2014 World Equestrian Games. His two teammates in Normandy competed in the non-Olympic sport of Endurance.
It may be some time before we see a large contingency from China at the World Equestrian Games, particularly in dressage. China currently has no ranked dressage riders in the World Equestrian Federation’s database. Read more about Alex Hua Tian here: World Equestrian Games: China’s ‘one in a billion’ rider Hua Tian.
3. The Para-Dressage Dynasty
Para-Dressage is a wonderful opportunity for people with disabilities to compete and achieve their goals in equestrian sport, but the truth is that Britain’s got this one in the bag. Great Britain’s para-dressage riders are undefeated in major team events since 1996 when the discipline became a permanent fixture in the Paralympic Games.
Normandy is no exception. Natasha Baker and her mount Cabral topped the leader board for the Grade II Team Test with a score of 73.647%. Meanwhile, triple London 2012 medalist Sophie Wells scored 74.595% to top the Grade IV event aboard Valerius for the team. All told, team GB has secured gold once again. Congratulations team GB! Looks like there’s no end to this winning streak. On to Rio they go!
4. WSJ Knows Its WEG
The World Equestrian Games received a surprisingly accurate and thorough preview in that notable sports publication, The Wall Street Journal. No seriously! While we equestrians may be well versed in our own discipline(s), even as an experienced horse-person, the ins and outs of other disciplines usually remain a bit of a mystery. But the Journal seems to nail not only the current facts of each of the eight World Equestrian Games disciplines, but also the history and humor. See for yourself: The Mane Event: World Equestrian Games 2014.
Now you may return to your regularly scheduled programming, which may actually include equestrian coverage!