Wednesday, June 15, 2011

First Official Day at Luhmuhlen by Kelley Merette

Good Evening America!

We have successfully completed our first official day of the 2011 Luhmuhlen Horse Trial. Since I last updated all my readers (and well done, all of you who have chosen to read my blog instead of Nat's, EXCELLENT decision……just kidding, the "blog wars" are all in good fun, and as Tim Gardner, Cambalda's owner, stated tonight, they are both equally informative and well-done, in different ways) we have settled ourselves into our home at the show grounds and the horses are all very happy. We elected to stay at the barn we had been living at up the road until Tuesday morning instead of Monday, as it was quiet (even despite the reining competition), and the stalls were large and we had ample privacy. Anyways, Tuesday morning, I drove our car over to the show grounds with the lorry full of all of our equipment following me, and then Jennie, Tiana, Will, and Nat hacked the 4 horses over via some trails. Ping is an extremely workmanlike and consistent horse to ride, but hacking out is his one major dislike. Therefore, by the time the group made it to our new stabling venue, Ping was acting as if he was about to enter the start box for cross country, not returning from a "relaxing" stroll through the woods.

It took him a few hours to get settled, mentally and emotionally, but by the time we had ourselves organized and then Jennie had a lesson in the Main Arena with the Captain (one advantage of brand new footing, it needs to be broken in by being ridden on!) Ping had decided that he could get used to his view of the field from his back window, and his view of Missy (Andromaque) from his front window. It is important to note here for anyone concerned about the health of our animals in this foreign land, that 3 WHOLE bags of shaving were set up in the aisle to "quarantine" us from all the other competition horses……nope, don't worry, we have learned that this happens to be a completely foolproof way of preventing contamination between the American horses and everyone else. Thank goodness someone figured that out…..

Jennie and Cambalda's lessons with the Captain yesterday and today have gone extremely well. Ping has been very relaxed and yet focused, much the same as he looked before he put in such a good test at the Galway Downs (CA) CCI*** last November, so hopefully this is a good sign. Everyone has remained in good spirits (this trip will be remembered for those of us here as a big sing-off and dance-off, with Will's new obsession with Walt Disney's "Spectrum Song" and Nat's dance routine to "She Got a 'Donk" ranking most popular on the list -- stay tuned to Eventing Nation, videos of these performances are coming soon!) I found out this morning that European events have AMAZING breakfasts……coffee, tea, juice, pastries, meat, cheese, fruit, etc all complimentary to us. The competition is definitely starting to seem more imminent and exciting now, partially thanks to the arrivals of more of our contingent. Tim and Nina Gardner, the wonderful owners of Cambalda, arrived today after just spending the past weekend in Canada, where their William Penn put in a fantastic performance in the Bromont 3-star with our boss, Phillip Dutton, in the irons. Hopefully Ping will keep the successful streak going! Also, yesterday afternoon, our good friend Shannon Kingsley arrived, ready to jump in and help wherever needed, even if just to put Ping's tail bandage on some of the time so I'm not dodging the hind legs as often.

The jog didn't start until 5pm this afternoon, so there was plenty of time for the anticipation and excitement to build through the stables. I got him braided, beautified, and bridled in plenty of time to head down to the inspection, which was held right in front of the grandstand of the main arena (more than enough atmosphere!) Ping behaved himself very well even when things got a little electric and he and Jennie looked fantastic during their turn on the strip. A great start to the weekend, and hopefully a good sign for the next few days. Tomorrow will be the dressage for the CIC*** competition, which includes 2 of the 4 American horses, Will Faudree on Andromaque and Tiana Coudray on Ringwood Magister. It will be the final warm-up day for Jennie and Ping, as well as the arrival of the last member of our USA cheering squad, Lillian Heard. Cambalda will be doing his test Friday morning at 10:04 (4:04am EDT) so stay tuned! The photo is of me in our hotel room, wearing the new German glasses that Shannon picked up for me at the store today. These really helped me get my gameface on today, but I think I might have to draw little American flags to tape on the sides to complete the look. She also found Nat a lighter the size of an iPhone with a mini-flashlight on the bottom, so I think armed with our new gifts, there's nothing stopping us!

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