The organizing committee of the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games have multiple goals. While they definitely want people to go to Normandy, France for the competition August 23-September 7. They also want them to learn about the culture and the history of the region.
One of the biggest attractions in this area is seeing where the Battle of Normandy took place and the remains of that devastating fight.
It began on June 6, 1944 and ended on August 23 that same year. While the goal of stopping Hitler’s advancement and liberating Europe was achieved, in the process a lot of American lives were lost. The memories of those tragic days are witnessed by the landscape which has deep craters from all the bombing that took place by the Omaha and Utah beaches along the Normandy shore between the towns of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont and Ouistreham.
Even though the loss of American lives was in the thousands, the final result was positive. Despite the losses the U.S. troops slowly continued to cross the terrain forcing the Germans back. Normandy was liberated on the 23rd and Paris on the 25th. In time it was clear that this was the turning point, the beginning of the end of the war. It would be in May of 1945 that WWII finally ended.
Learning about the history of this devastating battle leaves one glad for the final result but sad to learn how much the American troops suffered in order to win this major battle.
While one must pay a visit to this area to witness history, there are also other things to do in and around Normandy. Another cultural attraction of the area are the distilleries. One of Normandy’s most prestigious is Calvados Boulard which is known for its apple brandy. It is distilled from cider using the areas specially grown apples, which adds a unique apple flavor to the various brandies that they produce.
Their brandies are sold around the world. If you are a lover of brandy, this is one place you won’t want to miss. Tours can be arranged by going to their web site at http://www.calvados-boulard.com/.
Visiting Caen and Understanding the Venues
The Alltech FEI WEG will take place throughout France with most of the events happening in and around Caen. The main stadium (Stade d’ornano) is where both the Dressage and Show Jumping will be taking place. This will also be the location for Eventing Dressage.
This stadium seats some 21,000 people and will also be where both the opening and closing ceremonies will be showcased. Now the arena is set up as a soccer stadium and it won’t be until we are closer to the Games that this 20-year-old venue will be converted for the horse events.
Not far from the main stadium is a smaller venue referred to as the Zenith Exhibition Centre. This is where the vaulting will be featured because it is conveniently set up in the round, which is perfect for vaulting.
Right across from that is where the Reining competition will happen in what the French refer to as Parc des Expositions. Often at other World Equestrian Games the Reining and Vaulting take place in the same location but since Reining requires more of a square or rectangular setup, this venue is better suited to accommodate their sliding stops and figure 8 gallops.
A short distance from there is the Hippodrome de la Prairie Racecourse where the Driving and the Para-Equestrian will be featured.
Included throughout the two weeks will be polo demonstrations in Deauville and Horse Ball, which looks like basketball played on horseback. Horse Ball is taking place at Centre de Promotion de l’Elevage in the city of Saint-Lo.