Saturday, October 2, 2010

Opening Ceremonies Part Two

After the parade of (human) athletes was finished, the orchestra began to play a haunting melody from "Scheherazade" and the audience hushed before a rider on an Arabian, in full native costume, rode out into the arena. She was joined by another rider in costume, plus others showcasing their discipline of western pleasure. Again, the horses and riders were winners of multiple championships and handled the electricity of the crowd like the true professionals they are.

Next came an appearance by a group that rarely comes to the US - the Koninklijke Vereniging Het Friesch Paarden Stamboek. How's that for a mouthful of Dutch? For those of you requesting translation, they called it "The Friesian Train" in English. I think it must be something less than a literal translation, but I can't say for sure! They started out with one rider, then two, in dressage attire of black coats and white breeches, trotting out to New York, New York. Eventually, there were ten horse and rider pairs doing quadrille work together. In terms of entertainment value for the non-dressage rider, it was great. The crowd loved it. I could not get past how tight the horses necks were, and how a couple of them almost looked as if they were actually touching there noses to their chests. Not really my training cup of tea, but it was another show of very precise riding set well to musical accompaniment. I am not sure I would have selected "Aquarius" as part of that segment, but since it is from the musical "Hair" and the friesians were all shown with their opulent manes left unbraided, I suppose it was appropriate!

After the friesians danced out of the arena, it was time for the business side of the opening ceremonies. The dignitary parade included the Kentucky bigwigs (Mayor Newberry and Governor Beshear) along with HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan. These dignitaries were driven into the arena in beautiful coaches that were immaculately turned out - there were pairs, and coach and fours. Someday I will get into carriage driving - the little I have done before has been very much fun, and I would love to feel the power of driving four in hand! Muhammad Ali was later driven in a classic car as a special guest. There was another car as well, but I can't for the life of me remember who was in it. Anyway, I digress. There is not much to say about the speeches other than they took to long. They were all very well spoken, and the Princess is very eloquent, but come on, we were all bored after 10 minutes. Finally, she said "Let the games begin!" and we were off. But not really - little did I realize there was still another hour of show to go.

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