Saturday night at d’Ornano Stadium in Caen, France, the World Equestrian Games (WEG) officially opened with welcoming messages from local and international leaders, honored breed presentations, the parade of nations, and a military aviation salute. But by far the greatest half of the evening was the laser-light equestrian show, designed by the French creative agency Skertzò. Rich in art and cultural heritage, and deep-rooted in professional equestrian shows, the host country of France certainly knows how to impress. With laser-light technology that absolutely transforms surfaces into an ultramodern trompe-l’oeil, you find yourself doubting your senses, wondering how it’s possible that something can seem so real.

The horse, of course, in all its glory, throughout the ages, throughout cultures, throughout science and art, was mis à l’honneur of this extraordinary event. The lights, the choreography, the design, the scenic development, the music, the props, and the ambiance made for an unforgettable show that will certainly set the bars high for the next WEG organizers. The French set out to impress, and they definitely succeeded above and beyond our expectations.

After such a show, it’s only natural to want to hand out a few "Critical Observer Spectator Awards." I’ve got a handful of award-winning moments, from my seat in the press tribunes, that deserve special mention. For good and for bad, here’s my list of the top award-winning moments of the opening ceremony of the 2014 Alltech World Equestrian Games:

1. The Mak