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Saddlebreds To Be Involved With The World Equestrian Games


For the first time in its 17-year history, the FEI World Equestrian Games will be hosted outside of Europe. And what better place to have than in the heart of America’s horse country: the Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, Ky. Prior to its inception in 1990, no other equestrian competition of this magnitude has ever been held. All eight of the FEI disciplines are represented during the games, including for the first time Para-Equestrian Dressage and Driving.

The games held in 2006 in Aachen, Germany attracted over 570,000 spectators with comprehensive media coverage to the world, and hopefully that number plus more will be brought to Kentucky. Needless to say, this will provide an excellent opportunity for America to showcase its breeds, including the American Saddlebred.

According to Tandy Patrick, Chair of the Kentucky Horse Park and Board Member of the World Games 2010 Foundation, Inc., Saddlebreds are going to be involved in the 2010 event in as many ways as possible. Some such plans are to conduct tours of Saddlebred farms as “special events” that visitors can do while they are in Kentucky.


Saddlebred horse shows will also be held at the Horse Park in the new facilities leading up to the Games as well as following the event. A best-of-breed special exhibition will be featured throughout the duration of the event, highlighting the American Saddlebred and others as a Kentucky proud product, made in the United States. This best-of-breeds will also be involved in the opening and closing ceremonies for the Games which will be televised all over the world.

In addition, the Horse Park and Foundation hopes to have colleges and universities with equestrian science programs, such as William Woods, Midway, University of Louisville, University of Kentucky and Stephens, attend the Games and serve as volunteers. Other ideas on ways to involve the American Saddlebred with the Games are welcomed and may be shared with Patrick at  

To add to the American Saddlebred industry’s involvement, Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher announced the 35 members of the newly created 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games Advisory Commission. This group of individuals will serve as Kentucky’s ambassadors and will advise the Foundation Board as well as the CEO of the Foundation. Among a strong representation of the business, horse, arts and government community, Marilyn Macfarlane and Misdee Wrigley will be on the Commission to support the Saddlebred breed.

“The members of this commission will bring together expertise from many areas as they work to make the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games a huge success,” said Governor Fletcher. “Hosting these games provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to showcase the Commonwealth to the world, and I am confident that the members of this commission will work diligently to make Kentucky shine on the international stage.”

Marilyn Macfarlane is also making a big push to make sure the Saddlebred receives a broad representation. The World’s Champion pleasure horse, New York Style, will be making an appearance.

“The games will be a boom for the horse industry,” said the Shelby County trainer. “It’s going to give a boost to the whole area.”

Macfarlane said the commission, which she is a part of, will likely meet monthly at first to sort out specifics for the games, which is expected to bring mass exposure to the state.

“Hopefully, we’ll all be able to bring our expertise together to make this the most successful games ever,” Macfarlane said of the commission members.

The games are also expected to be an economic driver for Lexington-Fayette County. The urban county government is already prepping for major hotel construction and infrastructure improvements. Macfarlane is hoping that some of the event’s estimated $100 million revenue will trickle down locally.

According to Macfarlane, Shelby County could serve as a temporary home for many who will travel for the 16-day event.

“Competitors will be looking for housing. They’ll be needing places to rent.”
Participants will also be looking for stables to lodge their horses, she added, and
Shelby County is a logical fit.

“They really want to get the surrounding areas involved.”

While Macfarlane expects the event to feature several American breeds for the first time, including the American Saddlebred, she said the real winners of the games will be the people of Kentucky.

“Hopefully, people will realize how important horses are to the economy here,” said Macfarlane, “It will show people how well-treated the majority of our horses are.”

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