Wrap Up of the Opening Cermonies: Photo Gallery

9 years ago ilse Comments Off on Wrap Up of the Opening Cermonies: Photo Gallery

Story and photos by ILSE SCHWARZ

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, Sept. 26–So it is a day after the opening ceremony but between watching/photographing the jog, editing photos and then trying to keep up with the training sessions of all the horses, for which there was apparently no documented schedule, time has got away from me! This will be a wrap up of last night.

Dressage Team USA and Rick Mitchell (team vet) and Anne Gribbons (Chef d' Equipe). Photo courtesy of Steffen Peters)
Dressage Team USA and Rick Mitchell (team vet) and Anne Gribbons (Chef d' Equipe). Photo courtesy of Steffen Peters)

The ceremonies opened as the sun was setting, the stands were almost full and everyone was ready for a great time

Setting sun behind the stands added to the atmosphere
Setting sun behind the stands added to the atmosphere

It is obvious early on that this was to be a celebration of both the horse in the U.S.A. and the State of Kentucky. There were cheerleaders from the University of Kentucky, and with the enthusiasm of the crowd, perhaps they should become a regular fixture at equestrian events.

University of Kentucky cheerleaders add a unique touch to these opening ceremonies
University of Kentucky cheerleaders add a unique touch to these opening ceremonies

The ceremonies ran from 7pm to 10pm and the  first 2 hours were tremendous fun. As the sun went down, we photographers kept looking at the four huge floodlight towers that we assumed would turn on at any moment…NOT. As most of you know, my “day job” is a dressage trainer, so funky lighting is a challenge for me. By funky lighting I mean spotlights at eye level, coloured lights for “mood” lighting, almost darkness with a single spotlight (which I actually coped with ok) to highlight specific horses/people etc. I thought that it was my lack of skills that were challenging me, however the talk amongst the photographers today made me aware that it didn’t really matter how much experience or equipment you had, taking a great photo last night was an uphill battle. We all soldiered on and you will see my best efforts!

The ceremonies opened with a blessing from Native Indian chiefs. They wished for safety, health and good sportsmanship for the duration of the games.

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The teams walked in under near darkness, Australia was one of the early teams and they presented a large body of athletes. The flag was carried by eventing legend Stuart Tinney, he was followed by some of the dressage team members, Lyndal Oatley and Rachael Sanna carrying their own flag.

Lyndal Oatley and Rachael Sanna walk their own Aussie flag into the opening ceremonies
Lyndal Oatley and Rachael Sanna walk their own Aussie flag into the opening ceremonies

Canada has sent a large contingent

Canada is a popular team in Kentucky
Canada is a popular team in Kentucky

Of course the largest cheers were reserved for the American team. A standing ovation and much flag waving followed the riders around the arena

Team USA follow the spotlight around the arena
Team USA follow the spotlight around the arena

Various dignitaries and celebrities considered special to Kentucky were presented through the night. Wynona Judd sang a rousing version of “My Old Kentucky Home” which brought the locals to tears, Muhammad Ali was driven around in a vintage car and the baskeball coach of the University of Kentucky was bestowed the same honor and the same level of cheering.

I particularly enjoyed the short but fun “race” involving some legends of Kentucky racing, I would be lying if I said that I remembered any of their names (horses or jockeys, oops!)

A sprint around the main stadium
A sprint around the main stadium

A sea of USA flags from the military school, Culver Academy

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An act that originated in Broadway, featuring music from West Side Story and a single Andalusian and the Kentucky ballet was very entertaining. The groom for this horse must have taken out shares in “green spot remover” and every silver enhancing shampoo that exists!

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