My apologies for the absence – I’ve been on the move and the world has almost stopped spinning. I have spent the last four and a half weeks in The Netherlands (not Holland as I have now learned) – or based in the Netherlands – and it has been quite an adventure…

I love my event world – I know people, they know me – I say hello, chitty chat, etc. – my little world is safe and familiar. So when you transport me into the jumper world in a foreign country, I become a stranger in a strange land in a strange sport.

My boyfriend of almost 8 years moved from Eventing to straight Show Jumping about 5 years ago – he found it unfair and tough to produce event horses in this country with the FEI restrictions. If the footing wasn’t good, he would be forced to run a careful horse in a CCI in order to be “qualified” to go to the next level – knowing full well that the horse was qualified to go to the next level – he would have to do what wasn’t right by the horse. He picked out some great horses and gave them a fabulous start (Veronica – Lauren Kieffer, Henry – Jennie Brannigan, Vamor – Jennie Brannigan) but put that aside and moved on to the jumping world.

Fast forward 5 years of learning curve, jumping horses, jumping style, rideablilty, preparing, managing, etc., and Scott finds himself in Europe helping the Australian Team get qualified for the Olympics and compete in the Nations Cup Finals in Barcelona. And, I found myself there grooming for him.

My trip there started a month into Scott’s two-month trip, and I spent my first weekend watching the Stephex Masters. The attention to detail and the style with intimacy made the average spectator feel like a VIP. Nothing like it in the US or anywhere I have seen for that matter.

Next up was the CSI3* in Paderborn, Germany, where Scott and Stan were competing and where I made my first attempt at grooming at the FEI level in jumping. We arrive after a 5 hour drive to a truck (what we Americans would call a lorry or a van) back up – the show is in a park in the town leaving limited parking and unloading space – so I hop out and speak to the stable manager in limited English – yes, gelding; no, no spare stall; yes, electric for truck. We unload in record time (for me anyway) and Scott squeezed the truck into our spot among the others lined up very orderly. It has been a while since I have been to a horse show of any kind where I only even vaguely recognize 1 person… Scott.

Here’s Paderborn in a nutshell – The “jogs” are very informal. The Germans have doilies for their beer flutes to keep the foam from dripping; the warmup for the grand prix has 2 jumps and I found myself calling “verticle” for the first time since I was going novice; I set jumps across from Paul Schockemöhle, I was intimidated; Germans are happy to have cold cuts and rolls for breakfast every morning; everyone smokes! Paderborn is a gorgeous town with canals and rivers throughout – I can tell there is some history there, but I am not up on my German, so it was hard to read the plaques by the statues.

Stan jumped well – 1 cheap rail in each round – so happy with the effort, but bummed on the results. We packed up and headed home.

Home was the base of Australian High Performance liaison, Annie Lever – she was kind enough to rent us a room and a stall and was the perfect home base. Her sons have their horses based there too, so there was some camaraderie.

Laundry, both horse and human, and a day off and we were back at it – leaving for the Nations Cup Final was less than a week away. It is amazing how you can fill an entire day looking after 1 horse and yet I can manage a barn of 10 by myself too….

The Young Horse World Championships for 5, 6, and 7 year olds was that weekend and only 40 minutes away – we went down and watched both the qualifiers and the finals for the 7 year olds. Every agent that ever there was, was there… people making notes, on the phone – horses were being bought and sold and people were making money there. The show was beautiful, great trade stands and beer and food vendors all around the arena so you never missed a thing; very high energy.

The rest of the Australian team was great, Jamie Kermond, Jess Brown, and Edwina Tops – Three of the four team members were traveling to Barcelona together and all were fantastically helpful. Jamie Kermond and his girlfriend Jamie Winning were kind enough to let us all mash into their truck with horses, humans, and equipment. 12 hours to Lyon for a stop at one of the racetracks for 6 hours and then another 8 hours found us arriving in Barcelona at 9am Tuesday AM.

Barcelona was incredible – I ran into shipper Roger Gillisen who has transported me and various event horses around the world – he asked if I was at the wrong show… “Was I supposed to take a right at Lyon or a left…?”

I was in awe of all the great horses and riders – it was the who’s who of the show jumping world – these guys were so unemotional in the warmup and so professional in the ring. They all have a plan and it keeps them focused.

Stan was very green the first round, but got better as the weekend went on and jumped a clear round the last day in the grand prix – a great way to finish the trip! The jumps were as big as I have ever seen them – and the ring was electric. I was very proud of Scott and Stan.

So home again, home again – back to our base in the Netherlands – back to unpack and repack – I was on a flight the next day to go back to Florida to unpack and repack to be at a friends wedding in Virginia that weekend. Stan and Scott flew home that Saturday and Stan is now enjoying his field with his pal Danny for a few weeks.

I am off to Fair Hill and other events – off to where I know more than 1 person – but I cannot forget how much I learned on the trip. It was quite an adventure!!


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