Monday, October 04, 2010

Hoofcare@WEG: Paparazzi Moments at the World Equestrian Games

Great Britain's Eventing Team Farrier Brendan Murray carried the British flag into the arena for his country in the opening ceremony. All the British riders followed him.

Here's a great story: Backstage at the opening ceremonies on the first night of WEG, almost 60 nations' riders were lining up. It was an endless line of happy people in national uniforms with video cameras, cell phones, signs, stuffed animals, and noisemakers. They were ready to have fun, although they were clearly honored to be there and be representing their countries.

Ahead of each nation walked three young girls in jockey silks. They carried a sign with the country's name. Next came an individual rider who carried the flag, and then the mass of riders followed the flagbearer.

The rider who carried the flag was elected by the riders. I saw Karen O'Connor carrying the US flag. I saw dressage great Isabell Werth carrying the German flag. The Crown Prince of Dubai carried the flag of the United Arab Emirates. Eventing rider Andrew Nicholson carried the flag of New Zealand.

So I did a double-take when Great Britain gathered at the in-gate to march in. I scrambled for my camera, even though it was totally dark outside. I hoped for a super-flash, just this once. And I got it.

Farrier Brendan Murray was carrying the British flag. It really was Brendan! I found out later that Brendan is retiring as the eventing farrier for the British team; he's been to who-knows-how-many World Equestrian Games and Olympics as the team farrier, and this WEG will be his last. So, apparently, as a show of support and appreciation, the riders elected him to carry the flag.

I still get a little teary-eyed when I look at this picture.

But at the end of the parade of nations, all but one country had passed. As the host nation, the US was last and backstage there was a mass of people getting ready to march into the arena. I took a big gulp when I saw that the girl who lived around the corner from me back in Shirley, Massachusetts had been chosen to carry the flag for the USA. Karen Lende O'Connor was leading the pack of US riders into the arena, and rightfully so. Who ever thought either of us would be here? Wait until I tell the gang back home.

I barely had a chance to wipe my eyes when not three feet from me was another familiar face. Stephen Teichman, US Team Farrier, was marching into the arena with the riders and looked fantastic. He belongs with them; I know how hard he works and I was thrilled to see him.

I could only wonder who might come by next.

But that wasn't the last great moment of that night; there would be many more, including standing next to Muhammed Ali--who ever thought I'd be able to say that? Even at his age and in his health condition, you feel something, as if he could still float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. The man still has it!

I tried to explain some of the USA cultural and horse things to the UAE team (although they insisted that the Saddlebreds were from Poland, no matter what I said); they had never heard of Wynona Judd but the Crown Prince nodded his head when he heard "My Old Kentucky Home" and smiled, "Kentucky Derby song!" They weren't impressed with William Shatner at all until I explained that he was Captain Kirk in Star Trek, then they paid attention.

"Look who's here!" Farrier Hans Albrecht on the Red Carpet at the premiere of Secretariat, by Fran Jurga on the Pavement.
I had a lot of paparazzi competition tonight at the Lexington (Kentucky) premiere of the Disney film Secretariat, starring Diane Lane and John Malkovich. It was such an honor to be invited but I couldn't resist the red carpet. If I stood there, all the celebrities would pass by and I could snap their photos! Here comes the first wave now! They're actors from Hollywood, for sure. Ready, focus...

Hey, wait just a darn minute! That's Hans Albrecht, a farrier from California, or Lexington, depending on how long you've known him. Someone from the Hoofcare + Lameness community was strutting down the red carpet!

I don't know what Hans was doing there or what his connection to the film is nor did I run into him later in the night, as I told him I would. But from now on, he's "Hollywood Hans", in my book. He looked right at home on the red carpet!

I'll never make it as a real paparazzi, since I don't have the nerve to stick my camera in someone's face. I notice that my photos of all the famous riders at the Games seem to be of their backs and all the photos of the famous horses seem to be of their feet--perhaps so only I can match them up.

But every once in a while, the little camera in my pocket comes in handy and I know I'm in the right place at the right time. Brendan and Hans were having the times of their lives when I snapped these two photos. My camera caught that moment for each of them--and for all of you--and saved it forever.

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing 
Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to
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