First full week of October, part 2:
Thursday morning the alarm went off far too early, in order for us to be out the door in time to drive to Buffalo Trace Distillery for our last distillery tour (supposedly starting at 10 am) a behind the scenes tour for which MIL had made reservations two weeks ago. We made it by moments, only to find that the tour was actually scheduled for 10:30 am… on the following day. Making the best of a somewhat cranky situation, we went ahead with the regular tour which did start at 10 am, and we enjoyed it very much. The whole day was like that.
After the tour we had just enough time (we thought) to grab a quick lunch and head over to the Kentucky Horse Park for the individual vaulting event which started at 1 pm. Well, quick wasn’t what the fast food place delivered, and when we got to the Horse Park it was to find that our venue was on the far (and I do mean far) side of the site. MIL used her scooter and the rest of us power walked but we arrived after the event was underway. On the bright side, the attendant, noting MIL’s scooter, told her that there was no way she should go to the seats we’d purchased and directed her to some much nicer seats much closer to the entry. He told us they could only seat two people there, so P and I went up to the nosebleed section and J and his mother sat in the premium seats. At an intermission, I walked down to see how they were doing, and seeing that the whole row was empty except for them, P and I joined them in the nice seats. The stadium as a whole was about half full, and the attendants said that the prices were set on the high side based on “all those rich Europeans will come over and they won’t mind the prices.” Well, apparently they did, because there were many more people in the upper, cheaper, reaches of the stadium than there were in the lower sections.
That said, I really enjoyed the vaulting. I had no idea what to expect, picturing Cretan bull dancers or some such. What it was actually like was balance beam and gymnastic vaulting, done on a cantering horse. (I think it was a canter – faster than a trot or so it seemed.) We saw the women’s individual vaulting. Beautiful girls came prancing out with the horses, springing in rhythm with their paces. They handed off the leads to the longeur, who brought the horses up to speed and kept them circling as the girls mounted on the run and danced on the horses’ backs. Balance beam work looks hard enough; imagine doing a handstand on horseback, or a somersault in midair!
In keeping with our up and down day, we had to leave early to pick up the truck before the garage closed. We did get to see all of the women’s round but missed seeing the men competing, alas.
The next morning, MIL left to return to PA. J and P and I went back to Buffalo Trace after not quite as early a start; we’d enjoyed the regular tour enough to want to do the behind the scenes tour after all. It was great, and just as well MIL wasn’t able to go, since it involved about four flights of rickety stairs. We climbed up to see the vast cooking tanks, loaded from hoppers which moved on rails to the openings, then walked the catwalk over to the fermentation vessels (complete with “No Swimming” sign.) Each tank had an exhaust hood carrying away the CO2, and even so I was a little lightheaded and J had a headache when we came out of there. The tour covered the process up to barreling the white dog liquor, so I was glad we’d gone on the regular tour the day before and seen the warehouses and the bottling.
From Buffalo Trace we headed back to the Kentucky Horse Park for the last of our three events: driving dressage. Our friendly seatmates at the jumping frowned when we told them we had tickets. “Dull,” they said. And they were so right. Driving dressage is one of three events that make up the driving competition, and it is essentially precision driving of a four in hand carriage with two outriders. The outriders sit like statues as the driver attempts to keep the horses pacing in unison, wheeling and backing and running as close to the outer edge of the grounds as possible. The music didn’t even change between competitors. We stuck it out through two of them, and then decided our time was better spent seeing the rest of the festival. And more fun was had by all. We watched a few training exhibitions, strolled the grounds and admired the horsey pulchritude, and ambled off in the sunset quite content with our time at the World Equestrian Games 2010.