UK to assist Equestrian Games

One of the biggest events in Lexington history is making its first hoofmarks this weekend.

The 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games kick off this Saturday, Sept. 25, and run through Oct. 10 at the Kentucky Horse Park. No major Lexington event would be complete without a little help from UK.

The UK College of Agriculture will have two booths at the event: one promoting equine education in the state and one encouraging rider safety, said Nancy Cox, associate dean for research of UK’s College of Agriculture and administrative leader for the Equine Initiative.

The Equine Village display will ask visitors, “Where else for an equine education?” emphasizing Kentucky schools for those pursuing horse-related studies, a College of Agriculture news release said. Schools from around the state will come together to promote education in the horse capital of the world.

Cox said the College of Agriculture is providing four truckloads of flowers for the events, as well as “see blue”-branded wagons to haul the flowers around the arena.

Student volunteers are a part of the events as well. Equine science senior Courtney Zimmerman will help direct guests and participants during the opening ceremonies and will serve as a barn steward during the Games.

“I would like to get more experience with horses,” Zimmerman said. She said she’s excited about meeting people from other countries and being a part of such an important event in Lexington.

Additionally, a 23-mile section of the 100-mile endurance race taking place Sept. 26 will be run on UK’s farm, Cox said.

Researchers from the College of Agriculture have partnered with UK HealthCare to help with bio security and equine health during the events.

Studies on equine piroplasmosis, a disease that can be transmitted by ticks, have been done at UK, making Lexington an even better, safer choice for hosting the Games, a UK news release said.

Saddle Up SAFELY, a program focused on horseback riding injury prevention, is heavily involved with the Games, UK HealthCare information specialist Julie Meador said. The campaign is an effort by UK HealthCare, the College of Agriculture, the College of Public Health and 40 community organizations to promote riding safety. Representatives will be at the UK Pavilion during the Games to discuss safety issues, Meador said.

UK HealthCare is the official medical provider of the Games, and will provide onsite medical services as well as stationary and mobile first aid units throughout the Kentucky Horse Park, a UK HealthCare news release said.

“I don’t think any of us knew exactly what would be involved when we started in 2007,” said Patti Howard, operations manager for emergency and trauma services at UK Chandler Hospital and chair of the Games’ medical committee. “But I know we all are confident that we are prepared to handle any type of injury or illness — no matter how great or small.”

UK opened its new emergency department at UK Chandler Hospital in July, just in time for health care providers to get acclimated before the Games, the release said.

“Hosting a large, international sporting event is a great opportunity for our community and for the Commonwealth, and as the official health care provider we are prepared to handle the whole continuum of medical care that may be needed by participants and spectators,” said Michael Karpf, UK’s executive vice president for health affairs.

In addition to health and horse expertise, volunteers from UK will serve as translators during the events. Experts in multiple languages will provide translation services at all eight competitions at the Games.

“People tend to lose their abilities to speak their second language, which is usually English, when they’re injured,” Fiedler said.

An estimated 600,000 tickets will be sold for the 16 days of the Games’ events, the Games’ website said, and the estimated economic impact to the state will be $150 million.