|On to the World Equestrian Games
||[Nov. 18th, 2010|05:00 pm]
First full week of October, part I:
After the restful week with the family, we headed back to Kentucky. We broke our trip with a pleasant few days in Smithland, northeast of Paducah. Birdsville RV campground was as nice as ever. We grilled steaks and roasted marshmallows on a campfire on the banks of the Ohio River, watching the barges steam by, and made time to drive into Paducah and see the quilt museum. I love going there; the exhibits are different each time but always interesting. This time, one of the wings was devoted to an exhibit of quilts celebrating horses, in honor of the World Equestrian Games going on in Lexington, KY. Which was, in fact, our next stop.
We pulled out bright and early on Wednesday morning, headed for Richmond, KY. The first part of the trip was back roads driving, so there was no place to pull over when the truck started making funny noises. By the time we were able to get onto the shoulder just at the interstate, it was spewing steam, too. The new serpentine belt we’d had put on in Indianapolis in June had started to shred. About a quarter of the belt had peeled away into long narrow strips of rubber which had wound tightly around the fan pulley. Some of the strands had caught the upper radiator hose and yanked it right off the radiator, dumping several gallons of antifreeze in the process. We put the hose back in place, unwound the pulley, dumped what antifreeze we had into the reservoir and added enough water to let us slowly limp in to a truck stop a few miles away , running at redline the whole way. Thank goodness we always have a little fresh water in the tank!
We let the truck cool down while we got lunch and found diesel-safe antifreeze. Then we topped off the reservoir, carefully trimmed a few lingering tendrils off the remaining belt, and drove gingerly the rest of the way to Richmond, some 250 miles away. The next morning I took the truck to the Ford dealership for repairs and had to leave it until they could get to it. That was ok, we had the use of MIL’s van for a few more days. The truck was finished the next day; when we picked it up, the mechanic that worked on it said they hadn’t been able to find anything that would cause the belt to shred, so we chalked it up to cheapo aftermarket parts and let it go.
In the meantime, there were the World Equestrian Games. These, near as I can determine, are essentially the horsey Olympics, and like the Olympics are held every four years. Up to 2010 they were all held overseas, so this was a once in a lifetime event. This was also, according to other attendees, the first time the events were all held in one venue. In Europe, several nearby towns each host one equestrian event (the events are: dressage, reining, endurance, para dressage, eventing, vaulting, jumping, and driving) and the spectators have to do a lot of traveling between sites. Lexington, KY, boasts the Kentucky Horse Park, which is large enough to hold all the events on one site. The campground at the Horse Park (supposed to be the best campground in the area) was closed for a couple of months and re-purposed as the grooms village. We stayed at Fort Boonesborough State Park, about 40 minutes away, and the rates there were double the usual amount. The campground was nice, decorated for Halloween, and full. Lots of horse trailers with living quarters (quel surprise.) Though apparently they are usually full in October with the special Halloween displays and events they put on. There were orange lights and pumpkins everywhere, including a really spectacular haunted garden just packed with all different sorts of pumpkins.
The Games went on for two weeks. We knew we were going to be there towards the end of things, so we looked over the available events in that time frame and bought tickets to three of them, more or less at random. I figured that whatever we saw would be equally interesting to us, since we’re not really into equestrian pursuits.
The first day we were there, we meandered through the vendors, who were selling everything from custom boots and saddles (some absolutely stunning) to racetrack surfacing materials. The Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale we had enjoyed in Bardstown was the featured beer of the festival, which was a nice plus. I bought a souvenir t-shirt (my first thought was “that graphic would make a great quilt!”) After grabbing some overpriced but surprisingly good sandwiches, we made our way to the arena where the team jumping finals were being held. The jumping was interesting, and made much more so by the kindness of the chatty folks seated near us. One or two people kept up a running commentary about the athletes, the horses, and how everyone was taking the course. I was very grateful and thanked them afterward, because it made clear some things which I just would not have seen were it not for the nearby experts. The spectators were almost silent during each run; one group which was making noise as the horse got near them was angrily pointed out by our teacher, and someone must have talked to them because they were quiet after a bit. Everyone gasped at misses and applauded dramatic leaps and generally had a very good time.