Here Come the Dutch! Dressage Riders Raise Disaster Aid Funds for Pakistan as Their Equipment Leaves for Kentucky by Ship

All the Dutch WEG riders and drivers and support crews met in Utrecht last week at the headquarters of team sponsor Rabobank for a press conference. In this video, which is of course in Dutch, you can glimpse some of the leading Dutch athletes as they are interviewed for television about their chances in Kentucky.

The opening scene shows them watching the official video about the Games! And, of course each athlete is saying what great chances they have of bringing home medals!

When you are at the Games, you will find it easy to spot the Dutch team and their fans–they will always be wearing their trademark color: orange! So if you are thinking of wearing orange, be forewarned that you will very likely be mistaken for a Dutch fan!

I know the Games haven’t even started yet, but I?d like to start the applause early with a round for Dutch dressage team members Hans Peter Minderhoud and Edward Gal. These two busy riders stopped everything they were doing this week and donated their time to the Dutch national fundraising effort for Pakistan flood relief.

The Dutch media–both radio and television–also stopped what they they were doing. They suspended broadcasting for 24 hours and switched to a fundraising appeal for the flood victims. Hans Peter and Edward were two of the country?s many athletes and celebrities who were involved.

At first, the fundraiser was not going to be held. Similar events were held for the Haiti earthquake and the Asian tsunami victims, but the broadcasters worried that too many people are on vacation in August and the fundraiser would not succeed. But they decided to go ahead.

The Dutch people clearly remember the disastrous floods in their own country in 1953 and the aid that was given to them. The fundraiser netted more than 16 million Euros, which will go directly to the Red Cross and other relief agencies at work in Pakistan?s flood zone.

Meanwhile, Edward and Hans Peter have also been busy packing. Their big equipment trunks left Holland on Thursday for the USA in containers packed with the vehicles of the Dutch driving team.

This video on Dutch television shows their equipment being loaded into a container that will be lifted by a crane onto the deck of a container ship in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam. The container is just wide enough to hold the four-wheeled vehicles of drivers IJsbrand Chardon, Theo Timmerman and Koos de Ronde.

That is IJsbrand Chardon, the famous Dutch driver, commenting on how he left a competition and came to the port to ship his gear.Yes, he’s speaking Dutch. You?d better get used to hearing people speak in foreign languages! That’s what WEG is all about!

Also loaded were their bicycles–the Dutch would be lost without their bikes. I wonder if they know how dangerous the roads around Lexington can be for bicycling. Maybe the bikes are just for getting around the Horse Park, or for the new Legacy Bike Trail from the Horse Park to Lexington. I wonder if Edward Gal loaded up his new Freeway scooter! It is in the patriotic color of orange, of course, the official team color of the Dutch.

One piece of equipment to travel later has an interesting side note: Edward Gal?s Moorlands Totilas, the world?s #1 dressage horse, has never been on an airplane. He is scheduled to fly with a group of European horses to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he will be held overnight in a quarantine tent of stalls before being vanned to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

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