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UK Prepares to Serve World Equestrian Games

Published: Sep 22, 2010

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 20, 2010) – Beginning Sept. 25, a global spotlight will be focused on Central Kentucky for two weeks with the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park.

And the expanse of the University of Kentucky – from its medical center to its art museum – will play a vital role, ranging from educating fans and participants about the equine industry to entertaining them through song and art to ensuring a greener, more sustainable WEG.

During the games – Sept. 25 through Oct. 10 – participants and spectators from some 60 countries across the globe are expected to descend on Central Kentucky for WEG to compete. Participants will compete 47 events over 16 days and national broadcast network NBC is expected to televise several hours of the games.

Photo of UK Administrators in front of Main Building
Provost Kumble Subbaswammy, College of Agriculture Dean M. Scott Smith, President Lee T. Todd Jr. and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Michael Karpf

“The University of Kentucky is proud to partner with state and local officials, community partners and Kentucky’s world-famous equine industry to help the Commonwealth put its best foot forward for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games,” said UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. “When visitors from around the globe descend upon the Bluegrass, students, faculty, staff and alumni will be engaged in a myriad of projects that highlight the depth and breadth of this institution. Our WEG work extends across the campus community and our partnerships show the world how UK values its role in creating a better Kentucky.”

Some areas of interest and involvement include:

Health and Medical

 - UK HealthCare is the primary health care provider for the World Equestrian Games. Hundreds of health care professionals will be mobilized for the event. In fact, UK Chandler Hospital’s new Emergency Department Trauma Center helped attract the games to Lexington. “Many of us have experience working each year with the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event and feel it has been good training and preparation for what we can expect at WEG – just on a much larger scale,” said Patti Howard, operations manager for emergency and trauma services at UK Chandler Hospital.

In July, UK opened its new, state-of-the-art emergency department. Construction of the 40,000-square-foot emergency department was timed to allow for health-care providers to be moved in and completely acclimated to their new surroundings before WEG. “Hosting a large, international sporting event is a great opportunity for our community and for the Commonwealth,” said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK’s executive vice president for health affairs, “and we are prepared to handle the whole continuum of medical care that may be needed by participants and spectators.”

 - The Saddle Up SAFELY initiative is a unique cross collaboration among the College Agriculture, UK HealthCare and a number of community partners. The idea is to educate current and future riders about the simple steps that can be taken to prevent accidents. Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear – an avid rider – is the official spokesperson for the program.

Agriculture/Equine Industry Involvement

 - The tiny tick played a large decision in the time of year to hold the World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park. A UK entomologist conducted a study to make sure that equine piroplasmosis, a disease that can be transmitted by ticks, would not be an issue. UK research has played a pivotal role in developing a plan to keep horses safe from the disease.

 - Several faculty members from the College of Agriculture (COA) are assisting with WEG in various capacities including Lori Garkovich, who will be scoring for two of the WEG events. She has scored during the annual Rolex three-day event at the Horse Park as well. In addition, several COA students are working in the Equine Village throughout the games.

 - College of Agriculture farm crews have been working on the upcoming WEG endurance race and the legacy trail that traces its path across area farms. Steve Higgins, from the college, has installed stream crossings for the endurance ride.

 - The college has initiated a number of green and sustainability projects in conjunction with the games. College officials are advising WEG on turf grass management, animal waste management, quarantine protocols and animal waste management, among other initiatives. 

 - Along with water quality projects, measures to improve recycling efforts also are underway with the addition of recycling bins across the Horse Park. 

 - Health for participants – and for the animals – is always a concern. The Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is ready in the event of any health problems. The lab will be open around the clock, every day of the week, during the games in support of WEG.

 - The Horticulture Department, in addition, is providing flowers and arrangements for the jumps in the Horse Park Arena.

The Arts

 - Everett McCorvey, director of UK’s nationally renowned opera program, is leading the musical production for WEG. McCorvey recently traveled to Haiti as part of an effort by graduate students in UK’s voice program to form a choir among young Haitian children. The children will travel to Central Kentucky to perform during WEG.

 - Musicians and vocalists from UK Opera Theatre, UK Jazz Ensemble and UK Symphony Orchestra will perform as part of the opening and closing ceremonies and the Alltech Fortnight Festival.

 - The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky offers two exhibitions during the games; both feature the horse.  Paintings by internationally recognized equine artist Andre Pater offer the first public exhibit of his work since a 2002 London show. And the Art Museum at UK worked with the Smithsonian to create the first significant exhibit that examines the role of the horse in American art, history and culture, "Hoofbeats and Heartbeats: The Horse in American Art."

Other UK-WEG initiatives

 - UK professors and students are volunteering their time as interpreters onsite and in translating e-mail requests from around the world during the games.

 - UK’s S*KY BLUE House will be on display during the games, serving as a Visitor’s Center and the entry threshold to the Kentucky Experience exhibitions and events. The house was designed, constructed and marketed by more than 175 students in the Colleges of Agriculture, Design, Engineering and Communications and Information Studies.

“Becoming a Top 20 public research institution isn’t a matter of chasing rankings for the sake of rankings,” President Todd said. “It’s about making our community – and the world – an even better place to live. The service we’re providing throughout this critically important event is another example of that commitment on the part of our students, faculty, staff and alumni, who will be such an integral part of the games.”

For more information about UK's role in the World Equestrian Games, visit www.uky.edu/weg.

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