Countdown to The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014
August 23 to September 7, 2014
By Margaret Evans
The biggest equestrian event outside of the Olympics is about to get underway in the ancient province of Normandy, France, later this month with the much anticipated two-week Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™.
In 1990, the FEI launched the World Equestrian Games (WEG) as a competition of excellence and it has been held every four years between each Olympic Games. The first WEG was held in Stockholm, Sweden and, just like the Olympic Games, the riders were rigorously selected from the top set of athletes from each competing nation. Today, the FEI World Equestrian Games encompasses eight disciplines including dressage, para-equestrian dressage, jumping, eventing, endurance, vaulting, driving, and reining. In addition, this year WEG will be hosting demonstration sports in polo and horse ball.
Photo: FEI/Kit Houghton - The D’Ornano Stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies will take place, as well as the Show Jumping and Dressage competitions, and the Jumping phase of the Eventing competition.
Over the past 24 years, the event grew in size as it was hosted by individual countries – Stockholm, Sweden (1990); The Hague, Netherlands (1994); Rome, Italy (1998); Jerez de la Frontera, Spain (2002); Aachen, Germany (2006); Lexington, USA (2010); and now Normandy, France is on deck to continue and enhance the tradition. And visitors to Normandy taking in the equestrian extravaganza won’t be disappointed by side trips to enjoy the region’s stunning history.
Normandy has a long, turbulent, and immensely rich history. It was settled in ancient times, but its Neolithic people were overrun by Bronze-Age Celtic tribes who populated Western Europe and Britain before the Roman armies of Julius Caesar conquered the region. For a time, England and Normandy were under the same Roman rule. Raids by the Vikings, power struggles, dynastic conflicts, and wars shifted the boundaries over the centuries until Normandy became a French Duchy. In 1469, King Louis Xl put an end to that status and made Normandy a province ruled directly from Paris.
It was during this time that the stunning Romanesque Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel was constructed between the 11th and the 16th centuries. It was a site for pilgrims during the Middle Ages and, during the upcoming WEG, it will be one of the imposing sites along the 160 km course for the endurance competitors.
Normandy continued to amass battle scars, none the least of which was D-Day and the Battle of Normandy in June 1944. Allied troops landed along a stretch of coastline with code-named beaches Juno, Utah, Gold, Omaha, and Sword in what would become the beginning of the end of the Second World War.
Now, as many as 76 national federations will gather in the city of Caen, burial place of William the Conqueror and a city almost destroyed in the Battle of Normandy, to compete in the games. The entries are at an all-time high representing a 15 percent increase compared to the entries in principle for any of the previous WEG events.
The discipline attracting the greatest number of nations is jumping, followed by endurance. Canada is sending teams to compete in seven of the eight disciplines (we are not sending a driving team). Australia, Austria, France, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, and the United States have entered teams in all disciplines.
Twelve national federations will be making their WEG debut – Hong Kong, US Virgin Islands, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Morocco, Mauritius, Peru, Palestine, Romania, Thailand, and Tunisia. That’s pretty amazing, given that some of these nations are still conflict zones. Their participation demonstrates the increased globalization of elite equestrian events and their enormous popularity.
“We are delighted with the strong interest the National Federations are showing in this summer’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games,” FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos said. “It is very exciting to welcome new nations from all over the world to the FEI’s biggest event. The majority of the nations that will be participating for the first time have indicated their intention to send teams or individuals in more than one discipline, which shows how well our sport is developing around the world.”
Most of the events will be staged in the province’s capital of Caen. One of the main attractions in the Games Village will be the Working Horse Village which will be the centre for various entertainment activities with 20 horses working in the village as ambassadors. Alongside them will be about 3,000 volunteers who will ensure that the games go ahead smoothly and safely for the hundreds of participants and the 500,000 spectators expected to attend the Games.
The last WEG was held in 2010 in Lexington, Kentucky when it marked a series of firsts in WEG history: It was the first time WEG were held outside of Europe; the first time that championships for eight FEI disciplines were held at one location (the Kentucky Horse Park); the introduction of para-equestrian dressage to the world stage, and the first time WEG had a title sponsor, the animal health and nutrition corporation Alltech headquartered in Nicholasville, KY.
Canada’s Team Aims for the Games
At press time, six of the seven teams to represent Canada at the games have been named, and only the show jumping team remains unconfirmed.
CANADA'S EQUESTRIAN TEAM
- Megan Lane from Loretto, Ontario, riding Caravella, a 13-year-old Canadian-bred Dutch Warmblood mare
- David Marcus from Campbellville, Ontario, riding Chrevi’s Capital, a 14-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding
- Karen Pavicic from Surrey, BC, riding Don Daiquiri, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding
- Belinda Trussell from Stouffville, Ontario, riding Anton, a 14-year-old Sachsen gelding
- Chef d’Equipe: Victoria Winter
- Robyn Andrews (grade IA) from St. Johns, Newfoundland, riding Fancianna, a 13-year-old Warmblood mare
- Lauren Barwick (grade II) from Aldergrove, BC, riding Off to Paris, a 13-year-old Oldenburg mare, or Ferdonia 2, a 15-year-old Oldenburg mare
- Ashley Gowanlock (grade IB) from Vancouver, BC, riding Collegiate Sweet Leilani, a 13-year-old Morgan mare
- Roberta Sheffield (grade III), with dual Canadian/British citizenship, riding Bindro T, an eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, or Double Agent, a seven-year-old Anglo European Studbook (AES) mare.
- Chef d’Equipe: Elizabeth Quigg
- Peter Barry of Dunham, Quebec, riding Kilrodan Abbott, a 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding
- Hawley Bennett-Awad of Langley, BC, riding Gin & Juice, a 14-year-old American Thoroughbred mare
- Selena O’Hanlon of Kingston, Ontario, riding Foxwood High, an 11-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding
- Jessica Phoenix of Cannington, Ontario, riding A Little Romance, a nine-year-old Canadian TB/Trakehner mare
- Chef d’Equipe: Jacky Green
- Kathy Irvine from Blackfoot, Alberta, riding Nightwinds Savannah, a 16-year-old Canadian Arabian mare
- Jessica Manness from Dugald, Manitoba riding Greater Glide, a 13-year-old Arabian gelding
- Leanna Marchant from Calgary, Alberta riding Samson’s Fire, a 15-year-old Arabian cross gelding
- Yvette Vinton from Morriston, Florida riding Petit Loup d’Jolie, an 11-year-old Arabian cross gelding, or Teese, a 14-year-old Arabian gelding
- Chef d’Equipe: Maura Leahy
- Lisa Coulter from Princeton, BC, riding Western Whiz, an 11-year-old Quarter Horse gelding
- Josiane Gauthier, from Lucama, North Carolina, riding Colonel G or The Playboy Don
- Matthew Hudson, Marieville, Quebec, riding Its All About Smart, a seven-year-old Quarter Horse
- Cody Sapergia, Lermoos, Austria, riding Nu Chexomatic
- Chef d’Equipe: Lyne Laforme
For the first time at WEG, Canada will be represented by two Pas de Deux and a Squad in addition to individual vaulters.
Named as individuals:
- Alisa Schmidt from Chilliwack, BC
- Jeanine van der Sluijs from Olds, Alberta
Named as a Pas de Deux:
- Brooke Boyd from Olds, Alberta, and Todd Griffiths of Aetna, Alberta
- Angelique van der Sluijs and Jeanine van der Sluijs, both from Olds, Alberta
Named as a Squad:
- Brooke Boyd
- Todd Griffiths
- Shianne Hofer from Olds, Alberta
- Haigen Pavan from Olds, Alberta
- Dallyn Shields from Didsbury, Alberta
- Angelique van der Sluijs
- Jeanine van der Sluijs
- Chef d’Equipe: Rebecca Marland
Unconfirmed as of July 31, 2014:
- Yann Candele of Caledon, Ontario, riding Showgirl, a 14-year-old Selle Francais mare
- Ian Millar of Halifax, Nova Scotia, riding Dixson, an 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding
- Tiffany Foster from Vancouver, BC, riding Tripple X III, a 12-year-old AES stallion, or Verdi III, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding
- Eric Lamaze from Montreal, Quebec, riding Powerplay a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding
- Chef d’Equipe: Mark Laskin
For more information visit: www.normandy2014.com.
Photo: FEI/Kit Houghton - Eric Fevrier riding Miss d’Helby during the Jumping test event on June 25th.