Sunday, October 07, 2007

It was nice to have some company from home this week. Andrea and Marco drove down from Hamburg for the day to watch my lesson with Hubertus. Andrea had not seen Donneur go since he was at Third Level and she was really amazed at how much he has learned. Since the drive was so long(3 hours each way) they didn't get to stay and watch Dolly. We had a nice lunch together at the local Gasthof in our village. I must say, anywhere I have gone for a meal here in Germany, it has been very good. I have had dinner with friends from the stable in the nearby town of Paderborn several times and it is always very tasty.
Yesterday morning, I got up at 3:30 to take care of my horses and we left at 4:30 to drive 3 hours to Bremen to watch the Grand Prix. It was an International show in a large coliseum so the atmosphere was quite exciting. Hubertus rode Santos, an 8 year old horse in his first Grand Prix and was 4th with a 68.8%. Debbie McDonald was 3rd on Felix with a 69+% and a woman from Mexico won with a 73%. It was so nice because the scoreboard was computerized so that you could see the marks from all 5 judges immediately for each movement. To be successful, you have to have a horse that can score a 7 on everything. There were actually only a handful of 8's and the judging was very strict about mistakes, for instance a mistake in the counting of the tempi changes was automatically a 4. One thing that was different than I have experienced in the States is the piaffe scoring. At home, if the horse moves forward during the piaffe, frequently you are penalized heavily, even if the piaffe was ok. I never understood this. Yesterday, the quality of the piaffe was the most important issue and if the horse moved a bit forward, it was not automatically insufficient like at home. That is how it should be to promote the future training of the horse. Debbie McDonald is a great technical test rider, very accurate. There were a couple other Americans there, Heather Blitz being one of them and I was very proud that they held their own, scoring from 67 to 69%. The riding of the Americans is truly getting more respected over here. When Hubertus came into the arena, the announcer said"And here comes Hubertus Schmidt with yet another young GP horse". He seems to produce GP horses so easily and even with having a bad back pain from the day before, he rode a test without mistakes on a very green horse. We then drove 3 hours back home and I had 3 horses to ride so it was a late night at the stable but well worth the trip. I have been riding a 5 year old by Davingon, who is Donneur's grandfather, that belongs to Hubertus.
Today is the horses' day off so I went to the stable early and turned them out and they were quite fresh since we had our first frost last night. On the way back, I stopped at the backeri and bought some fresh whole grain brotchen for breakfast. When I got home, Hildegard asked if I wanted to have coffee with she and her grand daughter, Paula, who is 5. Pretty sad to say, Paula can speak German better than I can. She was working on some workbooks that teach children how to count, etc. and they were just my speed. I think I will have to get some of those to improve my German. So many of the young children do vaulting on horseback even at 5 years old! No wonder these kids grow up to be fearless on horses!
Michelle Gibson was supposed to come over but I heard that her horse had to have a month off so her trip is delayed. Meanwhile, Todd Flettrich, who has been here since the summer, went to a show this weekend in East Germany. It is about an 8 hour drive, thank goodness for a GPS in your car! It is very difficult to find your way around since the signs on the Autobahn don't designate which direction you are travelling, only the names of the towns. So if you don't know which towns are in which direction, you are in big trouble. Not to mention that he speaks ZERO German and in East Germany, they speak NO English. So I am sure he will find the weekend quite stressful. The other night, I found it quite challenging to drive on the Autobahn while my friend was talking to me in German. Too much to concentrate on at once. But then again, I don't get in the left lane too often in my Ford Fiesta. Do you know that you can lose you license here for 4 weeks for following too closely on the Autobahn? And passing someone on the right hand side is just as serious an offense as drinking and driving! No wonder even though they drive very fast, they don't have as many accidents as we do with people weaving in and out of traffic and tailgaiting.
So back to work with my horses tomorrow and I am greatly inspired after watching the horses at the Bremen show. We have alot of work to do. We are shooting for riding in a National show in Paderborn Nov. 3 and 4. It is taking almost one month to get through the paperwork to get my guest license so that I can show over here. The USEF has to send a letter to the German Federation giving you permission to compete and then you have to apply for a Guest License from Germany that is good for three or four shows, then you have to reapply for doing more than that. If you want to compete in an International show, it is even more complicated.


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