The History of the Acronym Event, FEI WEG

he 2010 WEG in Lexington, KY are nearly upon us.  EN is going to do its best to bring you the latest news and information about the Games up until the opening ceremonies (and hopefully we’ll be there to report live!).  This week, we bring you a brief history of the games.

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In the Beginning
The idea of the World Equestrian Games was first proposed to the FEI in 1983 by HRH Prince Philip, the then-FEI President.  The original concept of WEG was to give fans of one discipline a chance to see another and decide all FEI Champions at one time and place.


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1990 Stockholm, Sweden
The first WEG was held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1990.  37 countries participated, and six disciplines were involved: Jumping, Dressage, Eventing, Driving, Endurance and Vaulting.  A study conducted after the Games showed that the 1990 WEG had produced a positive impact on the Stockholm economy.  The Games also had a “tremendous influence on the development of equestrian disciplines in Sweden.”


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1994 Netherlands

The second WEG was initially allocated to Paris in March 1991, but the French project fell apart, and the second-place bidders from Holland took on the task.  After the tremendous success of the first World Equestrian Games in Stockholm, then FEI President, HRH Prince Philip had warned that “three years is insufficient for any Federation to put together the very large and sophisticated organisation that is needed to manage such an event.”  The second WEG took place at the Hague in the Netherlands in 1994, and Prince Philip’s words rang true as the event was plagued by “organisational and administrative chaos.” The event ended in financial bankruptcy.  



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1998 Rome, Italy
Leading up to the 1998 WEG, the future of the event was uncertain. The city of Dublin, Ireland pulled out at the last minute, leaving Rome, Italy to organize the event in just one year.  Rome took on the task of planning, organizing, and funding the Games in a seemingly impossibly short amount of time.  Rome embraced the challenge, and produced an excellent event against all odds.  42 countries participated in five disciplines in Italy;  the Endurance championships was held separately in Dubai.



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2002, Jerez de Frontera, Spain
The next Games were held in Jerez de Frontera, Spain in 2002.  All six traditional disciplines were included, and Reining made an appearance for the first time.  Under heavy scrutiny, the Spain Games were well organized and hailed as a great success.  While a daunting task to organize, a successful Games again proved beneficial to the host country due to media attention and spectator attendance.



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2006, Aachen Germany
The Games were held in Aachen, Germany in 2006, and for the first time, the organization broke even. Sixty-one countries took part in seven disciplines with approximately 800 athletes and 850 horses competing.

The Aachen Games were specifically influential for the Eventing community as the first four-star Championship without steeple chase. Despite torrential rainstorms, the event was a success!  The following numbers were obtained from the official FEI website:

Local economic impact at Aachen Games: $328 million; 570,000 spectators from 61 nations; 1,700 employees and volunteers; 130 judges; 76 stewards; 100 veterinarians; 965 grooms; 1,200 journalists; 300 photographers; 380 TV crewmembers; 70 hours of television coverage broadcast in 157 countries; 2,500 bales of straw; 5,000 bales of shavings; 66,635 lbs. of hay; 40,000 catered meals; 6,000 honorary guests; 100 hostesses; 300 service/kitchen staff; 270 exhibitors; 68 car and van service vehicles; 120 drivers.



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2010, Lexington, KY, USA
We have all been looking forward to the 2010 WEG in Lexington, KY from September 25 to October 10.  This event will bring about a string of firsts: this is the first time the Games will leave Europe;  Para Dressage, the newest FEI discipline, will compete together with the other seven disciplines for the first time; this will also be the first time all 8 disciplines will be hosted at a single site.  The Horse Park definitely has their work cut out for them, but the benefits will be worth the effort and expense.

According to the FEI website, the 2010 Games are expected to have an economic impact of $150 million and it is anticipated that 500,000-600,000 tickets will be sold over the 16 day competition.  The location of the Games will also prompt the largest horse airlift in history for competitors traveling overseas.

Volunteers are still needed for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games!  It’s not too late to be a HERO!  Visit the Volunteer Webpage for more information!

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