Sunday, September 30, 2007

I am sure that my dedicated readers are all eagerly awaiting the news of our first week of training. You certainly won't be disappointed! Hubertus was very happy with the progress of both horses since working with us last March in FL. The biggest compliment of all was that we got to run through the whole program including piaffe and passage from the first lesson onward. Just being back in Hubertus' arena makes me a better rider.
It is probably even more hectic than last year because at the moment, there are 3 Americans, 2 Japanese, a Swiss and a Swede all training here in addition to the normal horses that Hubertus rides and each of his 4 riders have 6 or 8 horses to ride each day. But somehow, it all works and when you are having your lesson, you are hardly aware of the other horses in the arena, your level of concentration is so high. The work this year is easier even though we are working at the Grand Prix level because we know the system and the horses are stronger and more supple than last year.
My German is getting better, especially since the family that I live with speaks NO English. Because of that, I am much more willing to give my German a try at the grocery store or the bakery. I am in the process of getting all the paperwork arranged so that I can show in Paderborn on Nov. 3 and 4. I will be showing PSG and INT 1 because I have to have scores to qualify to be accepted into the show. It will be a lot of fun, there are many riders from our stable that are going.
The horses have settled into a good rhythm, they seem to know right where they are. Dolly is especially fond of the silage, she highly recommends it, very worth the trip. Donneur loves it to but seems to be having an allergic reaction to it or something else. I am in the process of trying to get an alternate source of hay and/or silage for him. Try going to the feed store and in your limited German explain that your horse has an allergy and you want a particular kind of feed!
The thing that makes this time around easier is that instead of trying to learn a new program, I am riding from the position of KNOWING that the horses will do the movements as well as I have them pushed through. All problems that arise come from the horse not being accepting of the outside rein and being able to stay loose with flexion and bending on the inside. Then it is only a question of time for them to get stronger and more fluid with everything. It is quite amazing to see the progress of the horses that I knew from last year. Horses that were just learning a single flying change are now doing tempis and pirouettes and starting half steps. But it is all in a way that the horses are comfortable with because the preparation was so correct.
For as fabulous as the first week has gone, I am also filled with a tremendous sadness. On Friday, September 28th, I lost my wonderful companion, Montana. A couple of weeks before I left for Germany, she got a lump on her head. Her vet, Lauren Wade, was treating her with antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory and she seemed to be responding. Then things took a turn for the worse and it turned out to be a very aggressive tumor that affected her head and her left eye. On Friday morning she was in so much pain that I made the decision to have her put to sleep. I will be forever grateful to Mary Anne and Lauren for being with her and showing her love and compassion until the end when it was not possible for me the be there.
Montana was the epitome of everything that we hope to be as good human beings. She was always kind, even to those that weren't kind to her, loving unconditionally, loyal and she could put a smile on anyone's face. She was never demanding and endlessly patient and always accepting with no expectations. She lived life joyfully, always giving more than receiving. I am so thankful that she shared my life for the last 10 years and although I will always have her in my heart, it will be very difficult not to have her by my side. I know that her spirit is happy in it's freedom and that she will continue to bring joy to all those who come into contact with her.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The horses and I had a great trip to Germany on KLM airlines out of New York. How could it have been any other way when the name of the animal flight attendant for our flight was "Gabriel"? The horses seemed to know where they were going and made the trip much easier than last year. I have to say, it was easier for me too because I knew the drill and what to expect as well as being familiar with our destination.

We arrived in the light of day this time and the horses settled into their stalls, glad to be somewhere that wasn't in motion. We are in the main barn this time which makes it nice and many of our friends from last year are here again as well as some other Americans, including Todd Flettrich and sponsor, Margaret, and Michelle Gibson is coming next week. Hubertus is on vacation and will return on the 22nd, so the horses and I have some time to catch our breath and get up to speed.

I have an apartment in a different home this time, although it is only one house down from where I stayed last year. Josef and Hildegarde Beine are the owners and have been very gracious, including feeding me when I first arrived and taking me to the airport to get my trusty Ford Fiesta rental car. I suppose by the time I get back my German will be greatly improved since the Beine Family doesn't speak English. What better way to learn than total immersion, right?

Some exciting news from Stephanie Chandler that came here last fall and bought Lacord, the chestnut horse that was on the blog last year. She just competed in the US Championships for 5 year old Dressage horses and was 3rd in the final standings! That is an amazing accomplishment for a horse that she only bought 8 months ago!

The weather has been perfect, 50's at night and 70's during the day. We are getting into a new rhythm and looking forward to Hubertus' return. We are ready for the challenge of bringing two Grand Prix horses back to the States!