1,000 athletes will travel from all around the world to come together for adventure and participate in the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. The adventure-filled event takes off on Monday, August 25th in Normandy, France for two, long and exhilarating weeks of adventure and competition. Organized once every four years, the fierce games are acknowledged as the equestrian counterpart of football’s FIFA World Cup. And excluding the Summer Olympics, there is no greater privilege for riders who spend years upon years training. No pressure.
Competitors can win the world-titles in up to eight different disciples including jumping, para-dressage, dressage, horse-ball, driving, reining, eventing, and vaulting, the latter being similar to gymnastics on horseback. Favorites for the gold this year include Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin for dressage, having only emerged onto the scene two years and already holding an Olympic gold medal under her belt. On the other hand, the jumping category reigns Germany as favored winner based on the contest’s history, with Belgium and the United States (bring it home, baby) closely inching in. Yet the two top-ranked contestants in the event are not German, Belgium or America, but British: riders Scott Brash and Ben Maher. With a dominant performance at the London Grand Prix and an untouchable record as of recent, Brash is the front runner to take it home.
It’s not only about the riders, though. For many, the star athletes are the horses. Damon Hill, Don Johnson, and Legolas (inspired by The Lord of the Rings) are just a few of the names of the many four-legged athletes to watch out for.
There will also be some new, unfamiliar faces at this year’s 14-day celebration. Peru, Palestine, and Kazakhstan among nine other new times will be making their debut come Monday morning.
And although it’s mostly an overall joyous occasion for competition, this year’s global gathering also marks as a timestamp of change. Princess Haya of Jordan, the first lady of equestrianism, who has been president of the International Equestrian Federation for eight years has announced that she will step down. The striking news makes this year’s WEG her last. Throughout her two terms as president, Princess Haya has tackled controversies over doping and the treatment of horses in the sport, while also bringing in 150 million dollars in commercial revenue. But before farewell, the president – and princess – still has one more tournament to lead and adventure to conquer, and we couldn’t be more excited.