Dutch eventing draws 60,000 spectators

Dutch eventing draws 60,000 spectators

Published Oct. 14, 2015 10:28 a.m. ET

AMSTERDAM (AP) More than 60,000 spectators enjoyed a day of Olympic-standard equestrian competition when they attended the Military Boekelo, one of the biggest sporting events held in the Netherlands. Eventing competition consists of dressage, cross-country and show jumping and competitors were seeking a spot at the Rio Olympics at the picturesque competition held near the city of Enschede.

On a course designed by British Olympic designer Sue Benson, grooms and jockeys took their mounts for an early morning stroll as dawn brought the first light at the start of a hectic day on a spectacular and demanding 6-kilometer (3.3-mile) trail and in a ring with 25 jumps.

Eighteen countries and 88 competitors were listed and horses and jockeys were paraded during the horse inspection on Wednesday Oct. 7, a checkup for all competitors, before the first event, the dressage. Australian and New Zealand entries were among the competitors.

Horse lovers arrived in droves with some 60,000 spectators strolling through the woods and meadows of a 55 hectare (136 acres) site colored by the onset of autumnal hues. Every few minutes spectators watched a horse and rider pass at full gallop, jumping over fences, mastering a combination of obstacles, passing through a barn after a jump, or being unsaddled in the water - in which case horse and rider are hosed down with icy water. The Military Boekelo is also a busy business event, with 30 conferences organized for more than 4,000 participants.