Smells Like
Team Spirit

23 September 2016

Ok, so I'm going to have to explain this one. 

One of the cool things about working at the FEI is our ability to make things happen. 


Yes, we organize around 4000 equestrian events every year and yes, we have an disconcerting penchant for 80s power ballads, mini Dime bars and way more caffeine that's healthy for the average elephant. But these are the very ingredients that come together to make our off-the-wall ideas a reality. 


One of the most unique and impressive things about our sports is the teamwork involved, especially at events such as the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final, held in Barcelona. So we wanted to do something, well, a bit different to celebrate it.  Just because we could. 


It was during a particularly animated and lively meeting (I'm sure there were blue M&Ms involved)  that the idea of a photoshoot of each competing team came up. But with a difference. 


Forget the usual smiling-portrait-next-to-my-horse thing, we went with a heavy-metal-band-thing. With guitars and everything.  

Bands, teamwork - see what we did there? 

Plus it would mean a smoke machine, so that sealed the deal. 


Oh, and we decided not to tell them about this.  All they knew was they were going to have a team photo taken.  Mwah ha ha haaaa…

Fast forward a couple of weeks and there we were, in the luxurious surrounds of a 5 star international event in Barcelona. More specifically, in a basement squash court with blackout curtains and no natural daylight or adequate ventilation to speak of. 


We had the guitars, keyboard, drum kit, lights and eclectic, hand picked iTunes playlist to get them (and by this stage, us) in the mood.


The smoke machine was a no-go though, as filling a squash court with smoke and adding guitar-wielding equestrians was not deemed a good idea by some. Spoilsports.


So imagine if you will the looks on the faces of Nick Skelton and the Whitakers when they arrived in full competition gear and saw what we had in store for them.  


With Nick on drums and the legendary  brothers on electric guitar and, erm, tambourine, we cranked up the Rolling Stones and they let rip!  


Well, sort of.


It was to be a day of surprises as we saw 20 teams jump, slide, bump, grind, thrash the drums and play air guitar like a boss.  

There was something magical in the air, intangible and ethereal.  


Although that could also have been the result of a dozen people in a confined place for 13 hours.


Either way, it made for a day like no other, with lots of laughs, music and twanging.  And who knew that Steve could duck walk like AC/DC?


Text & Video by Paul Stretton/FEI

Photography by Richard Juilliart/FEI