The 2010 World Equestrian Games kicked off yesterday in Kentucky with a star-studded opening ceremony featuring Muhammad Ali, Wynonna Judd, opera star Denyce Graves, and Irish tenor Ronan Tynan. While the WEG are considered on par with—or even more important than—the Olympics for equestrianism, they don't have quite the visibility among outsiders that other international sports competitions do.
Of the 10 disciplines recognized by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the governing body of equestrian sports, eight are currently included in the World Equestrian Games: Dressage, Driving, Endurance, Eventing, Jumping, Para-Dressage, Reining, and Vaulting. (The other two, horseball and tent pegging, hold independent championships.) Before the WEG, there “was never a chance for everyone to compete together,” since only a few of the sports are included at the Olympics.
This year is a year of firsts for the WEG. It is the first time the event is being held outside of Europe (the previous locations were Sweden, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Germany), the first time that the championships for eight FEI events will be held at one location, the first time athletes with disabilities will be participating (in the newly added Para-Dressage discipline), and the first time the WEG have a title sponsor (Alltech, a Kentucky-based animal health and nutrition group).
The 2010 World Equestrian Games continue through October 10, 2010. For more information on the events, visit the official web site, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and blog.