Students take advantage of free tickets to World Equestrian Games

On Sunday, when no classes were in session, many students chose to wake up early anyway for a free ticket to a world-renowned competition.

All Kentucky college students were invited to attend the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games for free on Sunday. Through a campus-wide e-mail sent Wednesday, Student Government President Ryan Smith announced that through donations, Alltech and the Games’ other sponsors were hosting “College Day at the Games.”

Despite the early event times, students across the state responded eagerly.

Before the sun came up, students either drove or boarded a LexTran bus to the Kentucky Horse Park for a free opportunity to watch the Games.  Students had to present their student ID for a ticket to one of the two events.

While the absence of a ticket price encouraged students to attend, most said they would have come anyway because of the prestige of the games.

“(The World Equestrian Games) are huge,” said Midway College equine rehabilitation freshman Shelby Habe.  “It’s pretty awesome. I mean, who would ever think they would’ve come to America?”

The number of students asking for tickets “surprised” the staff working at the ticket booths, who did not expect students to arrive before 8 a.m.

At 7 and 7:30 a.m., two events were scheduled for Sunday: Endurance, which comprised of a 100-mile race, and Reining, which tests the strength and agility of a Western type horse.  By 8 a.m., a group of more than 40 students were already in attendance for the Reining event alone.

Evan Sander, a UK chemistry sophomore, said he remembered seeing the electronic WEG countdown displays downtown and on billboards around Lexington years ago.

“I definitely made an effort to be here … because I remember coming here before even going to UK, and seeing the sign (showing) how many days were left,” Sander said.  “I couldn’t wait to go.”

As the day continued, more and more students clad in UK gear arrived to the Games.  While staff at the ticket booths said probably hundreds of student-tickets had been given out, an official number would not be available until later.