Alors on danse: CHIO Aachen 2019 officially opened

There was a certain something in the air on Tuesday evening at the Aachen Soers. The tricolore – the French flag in blue, white and red – was flying in the centre of the main stadium. “Bienvenue, la France” rang out of the loudspeakers. And that was only the beginning of a magnificent CHIO Opening Ceremony characterised by lightness, which was hosted by Arnaud Petit and Nathalie Licard, known as “Madame Nathalie” from the Harald Schmidt Show.

Indeed: France proved to be an imaginative, elegant partner country that is wonderfully suitable for festive celebrations! And it additionally proved that it is not called a “horse nation” par excellence without good reason. Because they presented horses en masse throughout the evening. Whether under the saddle, in front of carriages, running free, as elegant riding school horses, trotter, heavy draught horses or gentle Camargue horses. A horse is not simply a horse in France, but a wide range of possibilities. Of course, French equestrian sport legends and current top French riders were also found under the colourful ensemble of the Opening Ceremony. And are you already familiar with horseball?  This combination between handball and basketball on horseback was also invented in France and impressively demonstrated at the Opening Ceremony.

The star of the evening was without doubt the master of liberty dressage: Jean-François Pignon. Nobody else understands better than him how to communicate with horses using mere gestures. He conveyed poetic moments on the “Holy Grass” – he mesmerised 40,000 spectators. The Cadre Noir from Saumur, France’s most famous riding school, is also renowned for its elegance. The establishment was founded back in 1814. In 2019, they presented a fascinating demonstration of their riding skills. They too left behind a lasting impression: The riders of the Garde Républicaine, France’s last cavalry regiment. On Sunday, France’s national holiday, they were still in France parading down the Champs-Elysées and on Tuesday evening they were here patrolling through the Main Stadium of the Soers on their noble steeds. The marine band, “Le Bagad de Lann-Bighoué” from Breton provided the fitting musical accompaniment.

But, of course, other forms of typical French flair couldn’t be missing from the Opening Ceremony. Can-Can dances were on board together with Astérix and Obelix as mascots as well as an imaginative fashion show, organised by the Fashion Design Institute Düsseldorf.

Most of the spectators didn’t just take fantastic images home with them in the late evening, but also the odd Edith Piaf song, interpreted live by Noémie Schröder et Les Ricochets.

Finale der CHIO Aachen-Eröffnungsfeier 2019. Foto: Andreas Steindl

Finale der CHIO Aachen-Eröffnungsfeier 2019. Foto: Andreas Steindl