Monday, August 21, 2006

Watching Aachen

I am an insignificant landholder with a few horses who lives far from the spotlight of world equestrian sports. But I can still follow it, and so I report that the World Equestrian Games (WEG) are underway in Aachen, Germany. Today was the endurance ride which covered 160 KM, or about 99 miles. The loops of the ride took each horse and rider through Germany, Belguim, the Netherlands, then finally to the stadium in Aachen where the victory went to a Spaniard who rode his 8 year old grey Arabian gelding, "Hungares" into history. The American team had a disappointing 10th place finish among the national teams. The USA used to dominate endurance riding. I think it is more that the rest of the world is getting better, rather than the Americans are slipping.

I had a dream of being an endurance rider. My first obstacle was that I owned a very heavy American Quarter Horse. I took him on a 25 mile distance ride but he went lame at the finish. Next I used an Arabian stallion, but he found the atmosphere of so many mares around so distracting, that he was held back by the Veterinary committee, the time spent standing around sniffing mares counting in his final time total. So that didn't pan out for me. And here I am today. Now my obstacle is a proper saddle.

My origins are thoroughly urban. There wasn't a horse for miles from my home. But that didn't stop my growing love for them. At age 26 I purchased my first horse, the previously mentioned Quarter Horse. He taught me a lot. Believe it was Teddy Roosevelt who said, "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man." This goes for women too, who today outnumber men as horse owners in the US.

The horses are galloping, jumping, and strutting their stuff in Aachen. And I'm watching.

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