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Horse Paintings Blog - World Equestrian Games Review


carriage marathon at World Equestrian Games

World Equestrian Games Carriage Marathon
Is a Mental and Physical Challenge for Competitors

Posted October 12, 2010

I went to the World Equestrian Games on Saturday to see the Carriage Marathon. It was even better than I could have imagined! The Kentucky Horse Park had laid out a 16+ km course with eight obstacles extraordinare. Twenty-five four-horse teams from around the world competed and I wish I could have watched each team tackle each of the obstacles, but that was not humanly possible. (Now I'll know what super-human power to ask for if I ever get the chance!) I did get to take photos of different teams weaving through each of the obstacles. It was so much fun!!!! We were all trying to get as close to the action as possible. . . . after a team exited an obstacle, some of the crowd would move on, opening spots up front for a better view.

Fellow spectators filled me in on the rules as we waited together for the next team to arrive. There were up to six gates that the team had to travel through. Gates were lettered with a red letter on the right, white letter on the left, dictating the direction of travel through the gate. It doesn't sound too hard until you find out that the other lettered gates are taboo until they've been passed through in their official order. Unlettered gates are always allowed.

Only after I purchased a program with a diagram of each of the eight obstacles did I realize the complexity of this sport! Each obstacle is a maze with many possible routes available to take the gates in order. The shortest routes involve tight corners and narrow passageways which are tricky when you are driving a four-horse carriage! Drivers spent a lot of time before the competition walking through the obstacles, planning their routes.

Here are some photos of the competition:

Gate 1: Kentucky Horses - Two decorated horse statues -- icons in Lexington -- decorated Gate 1. These hedge fences were shoulder high on the horses. You can see the red and white markers on some of the posts designating gates for the teams to pass through.

Gate 2: Head of the Lake - The first of three water obstacles was the first obstacle spectators saw when entering the park. The crowd filled bleachers on three sides of the Head of the lake! The horses entered and exited through the water, and many teams drove through the water as they made their way through lettered gates.

Gate 3: Spooky Hollow -- Giant pumpkin rest on bulky posts in Spooky Hollow, the only shady obstacle on the course. Trees and beautifully crafted fences formed narrow gates and passages for the teams to maneuver through.

Gate 4: Walnut Hill - This hill rose above the crowd to the delight of spectators! The horses climbed Walnut Hill many times from many directions as they wove through the course. At the bottom of the hill a wide stream/pond added to the fun! Crossing the stream plus driving up the stream were required routes in this challenging obstacle. You can see the water in some of the photos below.


Gate 5: The Stone Garden - Set in a "meteorite" crater, the sunken stone garden provides a bird's eye view for the crowd! And it also provided hills for the horses to climb.

Gate 6: Squirrel Grove --- My niece Lindsay (right) and her friend Megan met us to watch the marathon at the Horse Park. They are so lucky to live in Lexington! When they heard about the obstacle called Squirrel Grove they were very excited because their sorority's mascot is the squirrel! The giant squirrels mark the entrance and exit for Gate 6. The hefty fences sport giant nut sculptures for the squirrels to snack on -- after the WEG ends.


Gate 7: The Wagon Yard - Three covered wagons and a beautiful carriage gather round the fences in the Wagon Yard.

Gate 8: The Spring - This obstacle had the most water! Of course it was so far away from the main obstacle area, it took a while for us to find it. Once we did, I wanted to stay there all day, but my friend Sammy who went with me to the games wanted to eat and then go to the vaulting competition (we did buy tickets for that event). Darn. This was my favorite obstacle. Teams had to splash through about 50' of water on their way into the obstacle, then truck through water while going through different gates, and to exit they raced through a lot more water, making a tight turn -- in the water -- around a huge wooden fish sculpture. It was the BEST!!!!!

I love this photo where the horses seem to be saying "What?? Do you think we'll fit through there???" And the following photos shows that, yes, they did fit!

And here is a team racing around that giant wooden fish sculpture.

Kudos to everyone involved with the Marathon! The course was wonderful, the teams were giving it their all, and the weather could not have been finer! The crowd loved this event!

I cannot wait to start some paintings of teams in action!

See some aerial shots of the obstacles on
The Carriage Association of America's website

posted by Karen Brenner

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Karen Brenner is passionate
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