By Emily Goddard

Horseman extraordinaire Lorenzo was one of the highlights of the Opening Ceremony of the FEI World Equestrian Games ©FEIThe 2014 World Equestrian Games got underway with a musical and lightshow extravaganza featuring more than 100 horses in front of a 21,000-strong sell-out crowd at Normandy's D'Ornano Stadium tonight.

As well as a parade of the athletes from the 74 nations participating in the flagship event, the audience enjoyed the Garde Républicaine and giant Mexican waves before International Equestrian Federation President Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein gave her opening speech.

"On behalf of everyone here tonight, and everyone around the world who will enjoy these seventh World Equestrian Games, I want to thank the people of Normandy for so warmly welcoming us to this beautiful region," she said in both French and English.

"I also want to thank the World Equestrian Games Foundation, Alltech, and the many volunteers who have given so generously of their time and energy.

"These Games could not happen without you.

"And of course, I want to thank all of the athletes who have come to Normandy to pursue their dreams.

"You are at the pinnacle of our sport; you have earned the right to be here through your hard work and dedication.

"Whether you win or lose, these Games are sure to be a highlight of your career.

"I am confident that you will represent our sport well and prove yourselves to be true champions.

"I wish you all the best of luck."

More than 100 horses featured in the World Equestrian Games Opening Ceremony ©AFP/Getty ImagesMore than 100 horses featured in the World Equestrian Games Opening Ceremony ©AFP/Getty Images

Princess Haya was joined by Laurent Beauvais, President of the Lower Normandy Region and Normandy 2014, who also welcomed the athletes, officials, sponsors, spectators and media to Normandy for the two weeks of competition.

In particular, he spoke fondly of the 3,000 volunteers working on the event.

"We have brought together 3,000 smiles to welcome you; 3,000 sets of open arms," Beauvais said.

"The volunteers bind our organisation.

"We can all be so proud of them.

"For months now they have been our greatest ambassadors for the Games, the greatest ambassadors for Normandy and indeed the greatest ambassadors for France."

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declares the 2014 World Equestrian Games open ©FEIFrench Prime Minister Manuel Valls declares the 2014 World Equestrian Games open ©FEI

Princess Haya then invited French Prime Minister Manuel Valls to declare the World Equestrian Games open, which also marked the first time in the history of the event that there has been a Prime Minister at the Opening Ceremony.

Also attending from the French Government was Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, Agriculture Affairs Minister Stéphane Le Foll and Under Secretary for Sport Thierry Braillard.

French team member and former athlete representative on the FEI Bureau Kevin Staut and Ground Jury for Para-Equestrian Dressage President Anne Prain took the FEI pledge on behalf of the athletes and judges.

"In the name of all riders, I promise that we shall take part in the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to our sport without doping, in the true spirit of welfare of the horse and of sportsmanship, for the glory of equestrian sport and the honour of our teams," they said.

Competition is due to get underway on Monday (August 25) with action in dressage, reining and Para-dressage.

The Games will continue until September 7.

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