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The World Equestrian Games

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The 2010 World Equestrian Games kicked off yesterday in Kentucky with a star-studded opening ceremony featuring Muhammad Ali, Wynonna Judd, opera star Denyce Graves, and Irish tenor Ronan Tynan. While the WEG are considered on par with—or even more important than—the Olympics for equestrianism, they don't have quite the visibility among outsiders that other international sports competitions do.

The Events

Of the 10 disciplines recognized by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the governing body of equestrian sports, eight are currently included in the World Equestrian Games: Dressage, Driving, Endurance, Eventing, Jumping, Para-Dressage, Reining, and Vaulting. (The other two, horseball and tent pegging, hold independent championships.) Before the WEG, there “was never a chance for everyone to compete together,” since only a few of the sports are included at the Olympics.

The Athletes

Competing at the 2010 WEG are approximately 900 athletes and 1,300 horses from 58 countries. One of the competitors, Hiroshi Hoketsu of Japan, is almost 70 years old. Known at home as “Oldie Idol,” Hoketsu debuted as a show jumper 46 years ago at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. His second Olympics appearance wasn't for another 44 years, when he competed in Beijing at the age of 67.

The Prince

The first World Equestrian Games were held in 1990 in Stockholm and were arranged by Prince Philip, the then-president of FEI. In addition to starting the WEG, Prince Philip is also known in the equestrian world for the sport of combined driving. He was instrumental in the development of the sport, which involves four horses pulling a carriage.

The Firsts

This year is a year of firsts for the WEG. It is the first time the event is being held outside of Europe (the previous locations were Sweden, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Germany), the first time that the championships for eight FEI events will be held at one location, the first time athletes with disabilities will be participating (in the newly added Para-Dressage discipline), and the first time the WEG have a title sponsor (Alltech, a Kentucky-based animal health and nutrition group).

The Princess

Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan has been “shaking things up” at FEI as the current president of the federation—so much so that two people are opposing her in the next election, making it “the first time an incumbent federation president has been challenged,” according to the New York Times. However, her personal life is just as interesting than the controversial things she's done as FEI president. She's the only woman in Jordan licensed to drive heavy trucks (she earned the license when she was 19), and it's not just for show—she used to drive her horses' tractor-trailer around Europe herself for competitions. Her father, King Hussein, enjoyed hearing about her stops at trucker cafés and the latest jokes about the royal family that she would learn on the road.

The 2010 World Equestrian Games continue through October 10, 2010.

For more information on the events, visit the official web site, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and blog.

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Animals
Watch a Rogue Pet Dog Interrupt a Russian News Anchor on Air
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Last week, a Russian news broadcast briefly went to the dogs after its host was startled by a surprise co-anchor: a friendly black canine that wandered on set, announced its presence with a loud bark, and climbed onto her desk.

 

As TODAY reports, Mir24 TV anchor Ilona Linarte went off script for a few minutes, telling viewers "I've got a dog here. What is this dog doing in the studio?" After the initial shock wore off, she gave her furry guest a tepid welcome, patting its head as she gently pushed it off the desk. ("I actually prefer cats,'' Linarte remarked. "I'm a cat lady.")

Linarte’s query was answered when the TV station announced that the dog had accompanied another show’s guest on set, and somehow got loose. That said, rogue animals have a proud tradition of crashing live news broadcasts around the world, so we’re assuming this won’t be the last time a news anchor is upstaged by an adorable guest star (some of which have better hair than them).

[h/t TODAY]

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Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0
SpaceX Is Sending Two Private Citizens Around the Moon
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Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0

Two members of the public are set to take an historic trip around the Moon, according to an announcement from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. As The Verge reports, the anonymous private citizens have already placed substantial deposits on the commercial space flight.

The private spacecraft company SpaceX revealed on Monday that the Falcon Heavy rocket will be launching with its Crew Dragon spacecraft in late 2018. The mission will consist of a circumnavigation of the Moon, passing over the body’s surface before traveling farther into space and returning to Earth. In total, the trip will cover 300,000 to 400,000 miles and take a week to complete.

A noteworthy part of the plan is the human cargo that will be on board. Instead of professional astronauts, the craft will carry two paying customers into space. The passengers, who’ve yet to be named, will both need to pass several fitness tests before they're permitted to make the journey. According to The Verge, Musk said the customers are “very serious” and that the cost of the trip is “comparable” to that of a crewed mission to the International Space Station. The goal for SpaceX is to eventually send one or two commercial flights into space each year, which could account for 10 to 20 percent of the company’s earnings.

[h/t The Verge]

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