Opening Ceremony 2017: “Hello” and “Welkom” to the great CHIO prelude

A full house, a fantastic atmosphere, what an opening ceremony for the CHIO Aachen 2017. Around 170 horses and 790 people, on top of that carriages and caravans turned the official opening of the World Equestrian Festival into an exceptional evening in the Main Stadium.

“Welkom Nederland” was the motto of the evening. And that wasn’t just noticeable on the stands, but also on the “Holy Grass”. Even prior to the opening, a nostalgic triangle border scenario on the grass arena got everyone in the mood for the show. Scenes of days long gone by were brought back to life: Smugglers, customs officers, barriers, turnpikes and much more. However, these borders merged into one more and more in the course of the following dressage and jumping quadrille that was presented by young German and Dutch riders. And the rather unconventional opening speech by the show-jumping duo, Ludger Beerbaum and Jeroen Dubbeldam, on horseback in the midst of the representatives of the participating nations ultimately made these borders disappear altogether. “This is just as much a home game for you as it is for us,” stated Beerbaum. Dubbeldam added: “Yes, I really do feel at home here. The crowd especially have great respect for every rider. It is fantastic.”

When one thinks about the Netherlands, the Royal Family automatically springs to mind. They too had sent representatives of their Royal Stables to the Soers, together with magnificent carriages, riders and escorts accompanied by the music of the Dutch police band. This was followed by the fast-paced “Kick, Jump & Drive” under the motto “Getting serious”, here a German and a Dutch team comprising of four-in-hand drivers and show-jumpers fought out an exciting duel. Of course, wonderful Friesians, the most well-known horse breed from the Netherlands, were also in on the act. They performed a big quadrille and the Dutch advertising icon, “Frau Antje”, demonstrate that she also cuts a good figure in the saddle of a Friesian. A parade of bicycles primarily decorated in orange, barrel organs, stilt walkers in tulip costumes and many other show performances really transformed the Soers into a small piece of “Holland” on the spot. The newly appointed NRW Prime Minister, Armin Laschet and his Dutch counterpart – Theo Bovens, Governor of Limburg – made sure they didn’t miss out on the fun either. They visibly enjoyed being driven around the arena in a caravan carriage. The 90-minute Opening Ceremony came to a close with a musical highlight: The Dutch party group, the “Hermes House Band” really got the spectators going. Hartelijk bedankt Nederland!

Openeing ceremony 2017 Photo: CHIO Aachen / Arnd Bronkhorst

Openeing ceremony 2017 Photo: CHIO Aachen / Arnd Bronkhorst