The eight disciplines of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ weren’t enough for Mark Bellissimo, the impresario extraordinaire of the Tryon International Equestrian Center, the Winter Equestrian Festival and so much more. Mark saved the 2018 WEG after financial problems short-circuited Bromont, the original choice to hold the compendium of eight world championships. But while the WEG at the site in Quebec was scheduled for August, during vacation time, the North Carolina WEG will start a month later (August is very hot in North Carolina) and run Sept. 11-23 instead.

That means people will be back at work and school after the summer holidays, so many won’t be able to attend the competitions held during the week. Very few of the WEG disciplines, only vaulting and reining, will have evening sessions.

To make up for that and offer more opportunities for people to come to the Tryon International Equestrian Center during the WEG, as well as promoting horse sports in general, Mark came up with the WEQx Games™.

He wants to “tap into the energy” of the WEG, which he sees as the “most transformational opportunity for equestrian sport in this country in the dimension of media exposure, sponsorship diversity and spectator participation.”

The WEQx Games™, which will be spotlighted when the WEG disciplines leave the stage each afternoon, are going to be part of the World Equine Expo™. Featuring everything from a trade fair to educational activities, an equine film festival and an equine art festival, the Expo is envisioned as an annual event by Mark.

There will be 10 “derivative works of existing competition, something that will provide a high level of excitement for spectators and athletes and provide a different pathway,” Mark emphasized.

For several years, for instance, Wellington has hosted Gladiator Polo, played in a smaller arena and with less riders than the full-field version of the game. It will be part of WEQxs™, along with show jumping featuring 1.40 meter competition, the basis of a series that is part of Mark’s plans. As non-FEI competition, hunters are not in the WEG, but they will be part of the WEQxs™, and Louise Serio is excited about that.

Louise, who won the $100,000 World Champion Hunter Rider Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular in Wellington during WEF, talked about what is being called the Derby X.

An innovator herself, one of those who came up with the WCHR concept in 1992, Louise said Derby X “is a new sport, a team sport, it’s bringing back a lot of the old features.”

With qualifiers at Tryon and the Colorado Horse Park, the $100,000 finals will take place as part of the WEQx Games. “ It’s a team competition; it’s really exciting to see something like that come in,” she said, viewing it as the next stage in the development of the discipline.

Author and trainer George Morris never stops traveling — last week he gave a clinic for four riders during a ticketed performance of the International Omaha. Photo© 2018 by Nancy Jaffer

Author and trainer George Morris never stops traveling — last week he gave a clinic for four riders during a ticketed performance of the International Omaha. Photo© 2018 by Nancy Jaffer

The irrepressible George Morris, even at age 80, is constantly busy. He’s still giving clinics around the country and is always involved with a variety of projects. The latest from the former U.S. show jumping coach will be a new book, tentatively titled, Training the Jumping Horse, by George H. Morris with Beezie Madden and John Madden.

“It’s perfect timing,” said George, referring to Beezie’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Show Jumping Finals victory in Paris last weekend.

“I never was her teacher, but I think I’ve had some influence on her over the years,” George observed modestly.

“Mike Henaghan (Beezie’s coach as a junior) learned from Gordon Wright, I learned from Gordon Wright.” He noted that Beezie also worked with Katie Monahan (Prudent), who was George’s protege.

Beezie, George continued, “reflects this system that I was taught and that I’ve taught for my whole life. She reflects the Gordon Wright system and she’s the current champion of that system.”

To be published by Trafalgar, which also handled the Legend’s eyebrow raising autobiography, Unrelenting, George notes the new book will be completely different both from the story of his life and his classic, Hunter Seat Equitation, the Bible of that discipline.

Who knows what he’ll come up with next?

~ Nancy Jaffer