Commentary

Top 10 Coolest Things to do at WEG Village

Top 10 Coolest Things to do at WEG Village

The Alltech World Equestrian Games (WEG) Village here in Caen, France, isn’t lacking in fun things to do, for adults and children alike. In addition to the nightly concerts--including a trip down ’70s lane with Kool & the Gang--and the daily equestrian demonstrations, the Village stands offer a plethora of fun activities. I’ve compiled a top 10 list of the coolest things to do at the WEG Games Village: 

Photo: Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA


1) Ride a horse synthesizer. Forget the stationary equine mannequins you see modeling horse wear in saddle shops, the Stubben stand here at the WEG Village has a moving one. That's right. A moving horse. While it might seem like a good way to try out a new Stubben saddle, that's actually not the point, said the stand workers. In fact, it has little to do with Stubben saddles at all. This synthesizer horse goes through 10 speeds in the three classic gaits for an educational purpose: teaching people to ride better. By removing all the factors of the living horse, riders can learn to concentrate (with the help of an instructor) on correct posture and position. Stubben offers the instructor, the synthesizer, and, of course, the saddle of your choice for an in-village riding lesson.

Photo: Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA


2) Take a selfie as an FEI-level horse in his stall. You can’t say the FEI doesn’t have a sense of humor. Visitors can go inside this “stall” façade and try on a horse mask and a variety of hats for the ultimate WEG Normandy selfie. Say cheese! I mean, hay!

Photo: Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA


3) Drive a Land Rover SUV over crazy (and moving!) terrain. No, it’s not a Six Flags ride. This is the real stuff. Genuine Land Rover vehicles are available for driving (accompanied by an expert, of course) over metallic “terrains” that sometimes seem to defy gravity. At one point in the course, the car’s only on two wheels! The most thrilling part is the ascent up into, well, nowhere, it seems. Once you reach the top, though, the track suddenly moves down like a drawbridge, placing your SUV back on ground so solid you want to kiss it.

4) Taste exotic candies, such as linen chocolate. One village café hosts several free workshops throughout the games, like designing fabric items, creating organic cosmetics, or making special treats to eat. But the most unusual? Linen chocolate tasting. It’s dark chocolate with real, true, bona fide linen mixed into it. (Can you really eat linen? Yes, you can. I did. I’m fine. And it was delicious!)

Photo: Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA


5) Play equine veterinarian. In the Hippolia stand, combine state-of-the-art technology with your own diagnostic prowess. A digital tablet allows you to see “inside” the horse. The closer you go toward the wooden horse, the deeper inside its body you can see—muscles, bones, organs, etc. Armed with the horse’s clinical signs, you can work toward a diagnosis and decide what kinds of tests will pinpoint the issue.

Photo: Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA


6) Charge your telephone with a stationary bicycle. Is your iPod running out of juice after the long day at the games? No worries. The FEI can fix you right up. Just come into its stand and sit at one of four stationary bike posts. You can pick up the right plug for your device from the front desk and then pedal away! The desk in front of you allows you to even work or check email (if you can get an Internet connection) while charging.

Photo: Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA


7) Try some mare’s milk lotion. Mare’s milk is heralded in France as being high in all the right kinds of good nutrients for healthy, glowing skin. Several stands offer mare’s milk-based skin products like lotions and soaps. While it might seem weird, it’s an accepted practice in France to separate foals from their mothers for a couple of hours a day to milk the mares. The mares quickly adjust to the additional demand on their production, so the foals aren’t deprived of their mothers’ milk. (See my article on mare’s milk production in France.) Stand managers will let you try some lotion on your hands to appreciate the benefits before taking the leap to buy something that might seem, well, a bit odd. My hands definitely enjoyed it!

Photo: Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA


8) Listen to a horse’s vital signs and see from a horse’s point of view. At the Equispher stand visitors can learn a great deal about horses. The stand’s organizers—including an equine behavior scientist—wanted people to get a real feel for the horse that extends to nearly all five senses (alas, no tasting here). Highlights for horse lovers: listening to horses’ standard vital signs (heart rate and respiration) at rest and at work and watching the world from the horse’s eyes on an exclusive computer-generated video. Don’t bother checking YouTube for that; you can only see it at Normandy’s WEG Village.

9) Have a drink at the Kentucky Bourbon Bar. It’s the happeningest place in the village after sundown. There are so many people, they fill up the entire pathway in front of the bar. Visitors inevitably end up dancing on the bar, served by the most charming bartenders, who seem to enjoy the fun as much as the guests. If you stick around long enough, you could be one of the lucky few that get one of their free giveaway pleather cowboy hats.

Photo: Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA


10) Discover the future. At the Alltech stand you’ll find Alltech President Pearse Lyons’ dream for a sustainable future in dazzling full-scale models. His “vertical farm” tower reveals how humans could combine technology with nature to have a self-sustaining apartment and business complex, complete with energy production and ecological farming. You’ll find yourself imagining living in the glass tower, your vegetables growing downstairs, your horses grazing on a sixth-floor pasture, and your solar panels illuminating your 20th floor glass-roof arena.

 

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at a competition stable east of Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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