Live from Omaha!

Live from Omaha!
On the scene at the 2017 FEI World Cup Dressage Final

Friday, March 31, 2017

Equestrian Outreach: Spreading the Gospel of Horses

A girl enjoys her first "horseback ride" at the FEI World Cup Finals. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.
One of the stated goals of the 2017 FEI World Cup Finals organizers is to introduce horses and horse sports to more people in the Omaha area and beyond.

To that end, along with the usual fancy high-end equestrian boutiques in the trade fair in the CenturyLink Center are lots of kid-friendly "intro to horses" interactive exhibits, a stableful of horses of various breeds for admiring, and other introductory-type attractions. As I wandered around the trade fair this morning, I found myself amidst throngs of schoolchildren on field trips -- most elementary-school-aged, some older -- as well as a good number of folks with various disabilities. Let's just say that the crowd did not look like the people we're accustomed to seeing at horse shows -- and that's a mighty welcome change. Quite frankly, the future of our industry and our sport depends on it.

The kids seemed equally fascinated by the real horses and the make-believe ones. Volunteers were doing things guaranteed to appeal to the younger set, like drawing forth a long length of tubular pink material from a box and announcing the length of a horse's intestines. Of course the kids loved it, complete with laughter and the cries of "Ew, gross!"

Confession: I loved it too. Among those tykes is undoubtedly one who will get bitten by the horse bug as completely and utterly as you and I did. And who knows: That little kid may well be our next McLain Ward or Laura Graves.

Ride on. Share your equine passion. And enjoy these photos.
The Omaha venue is unique in that the competitors come cheek-to-jowl (or tail) with the spectators. Visiting schoolchildren watch as a groom returns the jumper Liborius from Uruguay to the stables after a hand-walk in the warm-up arena. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.

The World Cup Finals aren't just about dressage and jumping. US dressage rider Endel Ots was spotted schooling a demonstration horse alongside a Western rider. Photo by Jennifer Bryant.

Of course, a trade fair is all about shopping! The USDF's Betsy Hamilton (left) and Sydney Manning are staffing the USDF merchandise booth. Stop by and say hello! Photo by Jennifer Bryant.

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