Held every four years, half way between each Olympic Games, the World Equestrian Games offer the highest level of championship equestrian sport for all major disciplines of horse sport. Countries around the world qualify teams for this event sending the very best individuals from their nations to compete. Because of the sport exclusive nature of this championship, more countries and individuals are represented one horseback in these games than at the Olympics. At the last World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany more than 50 countries sent competitors comprising over 700 horses and rider combinations. For many, the World Equestrian Games are and the award of a medal is a higher achievement than an Olympic Medal. The event is run by the FEI, known in English as the International Equestrian Federation. The FEI is the official governing body of Olympic and world-class equestrian sport.
Before 1990 each discipline of equestrian sport held its own championship event. While the idea of a combined equestrian championship event was proposed in 1983, it would be seven years to get the concept off the ground. In 1990, the major horse sports came together in Stockholm, Sweden to contest in the first World Equestrian Games. Since then, the location has continued to move through various countries in Europe. Financial difficulties have forced the event to change plans at different times or move selected disciplines to different locales in order to pull off the event. In 2010, though the games will for the first time be held outside of Europe.
The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky will be hosting the event on U.S. soil. Riders from the United States will enjoy a rare treat of significantly reduced travel to such a major event. Most often riders from the U.S. must ship their horses across the world to compete in the most prestigious events that are almost exclusively held in Europe. Further, at this venue all eight major equestrian sports, dressage, eventing, show jumping, combined driving, endurance, reining and para-equestrian dressage will be held without the need for any discipline to be held off site.
Beginning September 25th, the event will run for 15 consecutive days, closing on the 10th of October. World records are anticipated as the top athletes in equestrian sport from around the world face off against one another. Spectators are still able to buy tickets. They can be purchased online, but will also be available at the front gates of the venue.