XC Day at Haras du Pin: A Spectator Survival Guide

Are you one of the 50,000 lucky spectators with tickets to WEG’s most exciting sold-out event? That’s awesome, but if you’ve already had a taste of WEG’s decidedly laissez-faire attitude toward logistics you’re probably also freaking out. We’re not about to let it ruin our day, and we don’t think you should, either. Here are some practical tips for enjoying Saturday’s competition in comfort and style.

First a couple basics:

— The start time has been moved up to 10 a.m. from its original time of 10:30.

— The order of go is the same as it was for dressage. The U.S. leads off with Buck and Reggie being the first ones out on course. Order-of-go sheets will be available tomorrow at info booths and not only do they exist — wait for it — they’re free! (As opposed to the 3 Euro they have been charging the straight-dressage spectators.)

— Just in time for people to start panicking WEG has posted an official Cross-Country Spectator Guide. But we’d recommend supplementing it with these bits of advice we’ve picked up the hard way…

Wear mud boots. As we mentioned yesterday, the ground here ranges from squishy grass to space mud to ankle-deep slop. The sun came out today and has dried out the course a bit but if you packed boots you’re gonna want to wear them. If not there’s a Dubarry vendor here, just sayin’.


Bring something to sit on. This ain’t Rolex, folks. There aren’t grandstands set up around jumps of interest or swanky tailgate parties to crash. This guy looks pretty happy in his folding chair (bonus points for the pocket binoculars) but one of those portable folding stools would be ideal.


Don’t believe the weather forecast. On paper it looks perfect — 68 degrees with a 20% chance of rain — but if I’ve learned anything about France this week it’s that the weather is beholden to no one. One minute it’s cold and raining, the next it’s blue skies and singing birds. Come prepared for anything.


Pack sustenance. During dressage the food-to-humans ratio was a bit out of proportion (see photo below). Allegedly there are 20 food and 10 beverage trucks coming tomorrow and it’s also OK to bring in your own stuff, which is more fun anyway. Think adorable French wine and cheese picnic!


BYOTP. Haras du Pin seems to be fairing pretty well on this front but I have heard WEG bathroom/port-o-potty horror stories that would give you nightmares. Bring toilet paper. It’s just not worth the risk.


Pack a paper bag to breath into on the way there. There’s no gentle way of saying this: Getting to Haras du Pin is going to be a pain in the bum. Parking will be an even bigger pain in the bum. Your bum will likely be numb from pain by the time you walk through the entrance gate. There is apparently a special parking plan in place for cross-country day and here’s hoping it actually works, but based on the success of WEG’s other “plans” I wouldn’t bet money on it.

It’s been taking us about an hour to drive from our hotel in Caen to Haras du Pin and that’s before spectator traffic starts piling in AND it’s been during dressage — cross-country day is going to be a vastly larger event. Which is to say, it’s going to take you longer than an hour to get here so take that into consideration.

Want directions? (Insert cynical laughter here.) How about an address? (Insert even louder cynical laughter.) According to the Haras du Pin website, it’s Le Haras national du Pin – 61310 Le Pin-au-Haras, France. I know, I know, that’s not even really an address. The WEG website offers comparably useless directions here. After a great deal of pushing buttons on our car GPS, we figured out that the best way to get there was to type in the area code, hit city centre and follow the signs from there. Not very scientific but it worked. The good news is, once you get off the exit from the motorway there is lots of pretty, pastoral scenery to keep you entertained while you’re stuck in traffic. Seriously, it’s the most bucolic drive ever, all quaint villages and secret gardens and random sheep wandering around. Good for the ol’ blood pressure.

So, you finally got here. Good job! But your journey isn’t over yet. According to WEG, the event’s 20,000 parking spots are spread across 60 hectares (148 acres) of meadow. Which translates to, “You’re going to have a hike from your car to the course, and it’s going to be uphill both ways.” #kiddingnotkidding!

Here’s the parking map — the lots open at 6:30 a.m.


I know what you’re thinking: Screw this! I’m going to take the shuttle. Bad news… shuttle registration is closed. There are, however, two special TERS (local trains) between Caen and Argentan for spectators with cross-country tickets. There are seats remaining — they are 12 Euro for adults and 6 Euro for children and can be booked online here. If you decide to go that route I wish you the best of luck; the website is in French and despite two years of French in college I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.

Hey, maybe it will all work out. Maybe for once WEG will prove us all wrong and knock our socks off with its mad organizational SKILLZ. Here’s hoping!

One way or the other we’ll be there with bells outlandishly patriotic red, white and blue outfits on. Go USA, and Go Eventing!

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