The equestrian competition of the 24th South East Asian (SEA) Games, hosted by Thailand, took place December 7-15, 2007. The venue was Horseshoe Point, an oasis in the midst of all the bustling activities the seaside town of Pattaya has to offer. Horseshoe Point was the perfect location for the competition held that week. The management saw to it that everyone experienced the warm hospitality and friendly smiles that Thailand is known for.
The dressage competition for Prix St. Georges resulted in the Malaysian team winning gold and silver. Notably, Quabil Ambak of Malaysia, a young multitalented rider, won individual gold in show jumping and dressage. He has managed to cross over with ease from one discipline to the other with equal energy and determination.
A highlight of the SEA Games was the Passionate Horse Show, an exhibition held December 8 and 9. It was timed to celebrate the auspicious occasion of the 80th birthday of his majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The show was a mystical combination of classical dressage and the magic of theater under the directorship of equestrian power couple, Ana Luisa Valença Rodrigues and Portuguese matador Mario Miguel de Silva. Joining the star-studded cast of riders, singers and dancers from Europe were members of the Srifuengfung family, owners of Horseshoe Pont. Technical Director Chattiya "Lena" Thaipiromsamukkee and Luisa Valença Rodrigues as musical director set the stage.
The blend of Asian artistry with European baroque set this event apart from all others: The Singaporean Pipa musician, Samuel Wong Shengmiao, and Thai fire dancers together with Thai contemporary dancers, Sirilak Songklib (Pik) and her brother Puttillak Songklib (Pond) helped create an ethereal display of horsemanship with the timeless beauty of the Three Kingdoms pagodas as the backdrop.
The heart-stopping soulful "Water Dance" with Portuguese bullfighter Alberto Conde and dancer Sirilak Songklib stole the show. Pure animal power and passion created by these dramatic performers and the Lusitano stallion Lazarote carried the audience into a place of fantasy, romance, and gallantry.
Also a rendition of "Carman" done by Spanish dancer Imma Martinez, Matador Mario Miguel de Silva and the Lusitano Luxuoso set the stage aflame with the flamenco and the piaffe done on top of a piano, all rhythm and motion in a swirl of Latin artistry.
Luisa Valença Rodrigues, daughter of Portuguese master Luis Valença and cousin of the late legendary classical dressage master João Oliveira, is a true virtuoso in equine theater direction. She weaves her magic once again, as she has done when she performed with Oliveira at the Olympic selection trials in California and the Las Vegas World Cup in 2005 and 2007 for "Oliveira and Friends." It is obvious that the legacy of Oliveira has been handed down for her to preserve and continue.
Special mention should go to General Probowo Sobiento of Indonesia, who shared his magnificent stallions for this prestigious event, and to Jate Sopitpongstorn, managing director of Horseshoe Point, for his work, dedication and belief that Horseshoe Point can give horse aficionados and those who truly love beauty and art a place to live the dream.
The next SEA Games will be held in Laos in 2009.
For more on the 2007 SEA Games, check out the March 2008 issue of Dressage Today magazine.