World Equestrian Games 2014

Jump into the saddle for equestrianism’s showpiece occasion

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Ronnie McCluskey

Ronnie McCluskey
HomeAway travel expert


Horse riderTo many, sports that involve mounting a horse are seen as somewhat elitist. In fairness, the stigma was not necessarily aided by the involvement of the Royal Family on a professional level – but then it’s hardly the fault of Princess Anne that she found her calling in life atop these magnificent animals. What her participation in the 1976 Olympic Games did achieve for equestrianism, however, was to amass a global interest that had not previously existed to the same degree. This, ultimately, would pave the way for the introduction of the World Equestrian Games. 

It took a considerable 14 years from the events in Montreal, to the conception of the four-yearly event in 1990, but since then it’s run like clockwork in non-Olympic years. Gracing a new location each time, this year sees the fittingly elegant French region of Normandy play host.

 

World Equestrian Games 2014: everything you need to know


   

World Equestrian Games 2014: setting World Equestrian Games 2014: setting

The Games are held across four different Normandy locations, the vast majority of events taking place in the town of Caen. The multipurpose Stade Michel d'Ornano will see its fair share of action, with a potential 21,000 spectators packed in to witness the Jumping, Dressage and Eventing showpieces. The beautiful Mont Saint-Michel Bay is the setting of choice for the gruelling Endurance Riding, while Polo fanatics will do well to base themselves in the glamorous coastal commune of Deauville.

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World Equestrian Games 2014: schedule World Equestrian Games 2014: schedule

Much like the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, the centrepiece of the equestrian world sees proceedings spanning the course of two weeks. On this occasion, the Games kick off with the opening ceremony on Saturday 23 August, pausing for breath the following day, then resuming with Reining, Dressage and Para-Dressage disciplines on Monday. The first of the illustrious Jumping events, widely considered to be the most popular, occurs on Tuesday 2 September, with the hotly anticipated Final Four showdown bringing down the curtain on Sunday 7 September.

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World Equestrian Games 2014: ticketing World Equestrian Games 2014: ticketing

I mentioned earlier that equestrianism is far too widely regarded as a pursuit of the upper classes, but if anything can dispel that myth it might just be the affordable cost of tickets for the Games. Prices, of course, vary depending on the event and stature of the particular round, but by and large you’ll shell out around £20 for most. The most expensive briefs, for the aforementioned Final Four Jumping, will set you back £75, with registration to a lottery style ballot opening on the official website in spring this year.

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World Equestrian Games 2014: disciplines World Equestrian Games 2014: disciplines

All in all, you can choose to settle down for ten various disciplines over the two-week run of the World Equestrian Games. As mentioned, the Jumping events are eternally popular, so you’re advised to secure tickets quickly if this appeals. Don’t miss the lesser-known oddity that is Horseball where possible; it’s an offbeat combination of basketball, rugby and polo that can become surprisingly raucous. For utter showmanship, you can’t go wrong with vaulting, though. The Germans, in particular, traditionally excel in what can only be described as elaborate gymnastics performed on horseback.

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World Equestrian Games 2014: Normandy World Equestrian Games 2014: Normandy

If you prefer not to spend the entire duration of your break among our equine friends, you should certainly take the opportunity to explore the surrounding region. You’ll miss the spectacular celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the D Day Landings by a few months, but you can still pay tribute at the historic beaches where the battles took place. Make time to visit the stunning small town of Bayeux, famous primarily for its masterfully woven tapestry depicting the Battle of Hastings, but also for the Gothic Cathedral that dominates the skyline for miles around.

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Main theme © Vuorikari
Image 1 © Martin Lopatka
Image 2 © Thowra_UK
Image 3 © lhourahane
Image 4 © Keith Moseley

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