One of my favorite things about the idea of a World Equestrian Games — often called the “Olympics for horses” — is the great mix of horse people. Unlike most “regular” horse shows and events, this isn’t just jumpers, or only dressage horses, or nothing but driving horses, etc.

One of my favorite things about this particular World Equestrian Games, and the fact that I was literally in the middle of it for the duration (and then some) was that I was able to see this wonderful mix — horses, sports, and people — firsthand.

There were jumpers cheering on reiners, drivers enjoying the eventing cross-country, competitors enjoying everything else going on at the venue, and on, and on, and on: two weeks of good-natured camaraderie that revolved around everyone’s mutual love of the horse, no matter what vocation any one person or horse had chosen.

Among all this horsey goodwill, one of my absolute favorite scenes took place late one evening during the first week of the Games.

Many of the Equine Village events aimed at children were stationed outside the CAA office, so we had a good view of children visiting with ponies, troops of spectators walking from the main stadium to the indoor arena for reining and vaulting competition, and the mechanical cutting horse, which invariably drew a large crowd of participants and spectators.

As I was getting ready to close the CAA shop around 7 o’clock one evening, most of the crowds had left our area, but the mechanical cutting horse was still in action. A couple of members of the U.S. reining team and their families were the mechanical horse’s last riders for the day, and they were having a blast. Apparently, the horse’s operator could adjust the difficulty level posed by the cutting horse and its calf (and I think he even controlled the horse’s movements), and most of the people we saw were riding at a basic level. But on this evening, the required skill level was ratcheted up several notches, and the reiners almost looked like they were riding a real cutting horse. I’m not sure a “real” cutting-horse rider would be laughing quite so much, though! It was a treat to see them and their families enjoying the evening and a bit of fun.