USA Equestrian (formerly AHSA) announced today that planning is going forward for a new Federation event, the American Equestrian Games, to begin in 2002. USA Equestrian is the national equestrian federation of the United States. Professional organizer Peter Doubleday has been retained by the Federation to lead the effort.
An exploratory committee had been named earlier this year to investigate its feasibility, and evaluate plans to produce it at the National Horse Center, Kentucky Horse Park, in Lexington, the home of USA Equestrian.
"This is a concept which has been much discussed over the last several years," said USA Equestrian president Alan F. Balch, "particularly since we introduced the possibility in 1999 at the St. Louis annual meeting that the United States ought to host the 2006 World Equestrian Games for the FEI (the sport's international federation). Since then, a number of the sport's leaders across most of our breeds and disciplines have been enthusiastic about it. We set to work seeing what steps needed to be taken to make it a reality, and out of those discussions have come the plan being announced today.
"Over a year ago, the Kentucky Horse Park re-designed and expanded its wonderful outdoor stadium facility, which has now been used in several major competitions, to great reviews from competitors in Eventing, Jumping, and Dressage. I believe it to be at least on a par with anything I've seen anywhere else in the world. There are plans now to do even more expansion and improvement. We want to help in stimulating this work, and stimulate greater opportunities for the whole sport throughout the country. What better way than to focus on an ambitious project like this?"
The 4th World Equestrian Games are slated for Jerez, Spain, in September 2002. Beginning in 1990, all international disciplines have come together for their World Championships once every four years, in the even numbered year between Olympic Games.
The scope of the project, and the steps to be taken to reach its full implementation, are being carefully developed by the committee, Balch said. "I believe the events should not just be restricted to the so-called international disciplines, but extend the reach throughout the Federation's umbrella as much as possible. The Kentucky Horse Park is one of the few places in the world, perhaps the only venue anywhere, that doesn't have to make technical compromises for the needs of spectators and the media. Just as the U.S. Open for tennis, now underway at the National Tennis Center in New York, is the Mecca for tennis fans everywhere once a year, so too could these American Equestrian Games be an annual celebration for everyone who shares our love of horses. And what better place than at the National Horse Center?"
According to Lori Rawls, Executive Director of USA Equestrian, the exploratory committee has been headed by Linda Allen and Kate Jackson. Other staff support has come from Assistant Executive Director - Sport Programs Donna Rocchetti, and Assistant Executive Director - International Services Sherry Frank. Doubleday will be working as an independent contractor with the Federation's professional staff and volunteer leadership to coordinate all aspects of the AEG.
The plan outline, with dates, competitions to be offered, and other details, will be posted on the Federation's website for comment next week, showing the event's anticipated development from year to year through 2006.
USA Equestrian Inc., as the National Equestrian Federation of the U.S., is the regulatory body for the Olympic and World Championship sports of dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, reining, show jumping, and vaulting, as well as 19 other breeds and disciplines of equestrian competition. As the country's largest multi-breed organization, the Federation has over 77,000 members and recognizes more than 2,800 competitions nationwide each year. It governs all aspects of competition, including educating and licensing all judges, stewards, and technical delegates who officiate at these shows.