The opening ceremonies are now behind us and the competition all in front of us as the first day of team Para-Dressage gets under way here in Caen, France, at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
From the look of the stands on Saturday night, the opening ceremonies were a complete sell out. Lasting a full three hours, they included an athlete’s parade. Para-Dressage athletes were very much in evidence in the proceedings, with several of them serving as their nations’ flag bearers.
Unfortunately for everyone here, the weather is unseasonably cold and rather damp. The Para-Dressage takes place at the Prairie Racecourse, which is either a very long walk or a shuttle drive from the main d’Ornano Stadium. For those of us wanting to catch both disciplines it’s going to be quite a challenge to do so. The dressage and Para-Dressage are taking place concurrently.
Another slight damper (pun fully intended) for the Para-Dressage is that there are no covered stands for spectators or the press, and today is turning out to be a Rambo umbrella kind of day. On the up side, the footing that has been laid out for these games is top notch, and looks to be holding up just fine.
If the weather is not quite what we hoped for, the hospitality of our French hosts is making up for it. The volunteers and officials are dressed in a cheerful green that matches their friendly smiles, and they aren’t letting the weather get in the way of their efforts to make us all feel welcome. Merci beaucoup!
I’ll be back later with some thoughts on how today’s competition pans out.