World Equestrian Games Scrambling to Save Dressage Freestyle, Considering Moving Indoors Sunday

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Laura Graves trotting Verdades for the World Equestrian Games freestyle veterinary inspection two hours before word leaked out that the musical performance for medals was in jeopardy because of Hurricane Florence. © 2018 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

TRYON, North Carolina, Sept. 15, 2018–World Equestrian Games officials scrambled Saturday to find a way to stage the dressage Freestyle indoors Sunday morning after the musical performance was in doubt because of Hurricane Florence.

There were widespread reports Saturday that the event was to be canceled because the European transportation agent reported that the return flights for 13 European horses in the event could not be changed.

Word of the prospective cancellation leaked out just hours after inspection of the 15 horses scheduled for the freestyle. Two of the combinations are American so would not fly to Europe.

However, later Saturday a decision was made to move up the reining final in the indoor arena, swap out the footing to make it suitable for dressage in time to allow riders to work their horses inside the same night.

If those plans worked out, sources said, the freestyle would be staged Sunday morning, as originally scheduled.

This would enable the European horses to take a break after the competition before boarding the plane for the nine-hour flight home Monday.

Hurricane Florence was expected to have the biggest impact on Sunday in western North Carolina where the Tryon International Equestrian Center that is hosting the WEG is located.

WEG officials announced Friday night that the freestyle was to be changed to Monday. The official schedule listed the freestyle for Monday but no start times.

At a meeting Saturday morning of the chefs d’equipe that represent the eight nations with riders in the freestyle, the shipping schedule was cited as a major obstacle to that plan.