I can't believe I've been in Bavaria for three months. The first month went very slowly, as it was all so strange and I was very homesick and unwell after the flight. It didn't help that after the long flight, there was little training to get into with AJ.
Since then Bavaria has become my home away from home and I'll be very sad to leave it. Although most days just involve training and looking after Mr AJ, Andreas has taken us to some beautiful places. Little villages not far from here with beautiful rolling green fields, lined with stunning trees, lakes and mountains. Local pubs with all the waitresses and waiters dressed in Lederhosen (short or knee-length leather breeches) and Dirndl (a traditional dress), along with about half the guests. It's really the most beautiful part of Germany I've been in.
Yesterday I went and did a big local competition. It was 30 degrees in the shade and very humid. The horse flies were out in force - some of them are the size of cicadas and bite very hard. We put half a container of fly spray on AJ but it was still more than difficult for the horses. The riders didn't fare well either - I had blood dripping down my arms from bites. The property and scenery however, were stunning. The competition was a disaster! After Munich I didn't think it was possible to do a worse test, but with horses one never knows!!
We had to work in (warm up) inside which all went very well, but then down to the competition arena with no familiarisation and it was on the top of a hill looking down to all the trucks and tent stables. AJ was very scared. Unfortunately the judges in their Bavarian style judges' boxes, complete with flower boxes, were very on time and I didn't have enough time to get around the arena and give AJ a chance to have a look.
I went down the centre line knowing he was terrified and then the judge at C stood up in his little house - that was the end of the test. I literally could not get down to that end of the arena. I then realised things could be a lot worse than my test at Munich! We were eliminated.
We stayed in the heat until 7pm, and then rode in the arena which took a while to get him brave enough to cope with the openess of it all. Off we went at 7am this morning for another training session there, and tomorrow I'll try to ride the Inter 2 there.
So definitely not successful, but all good training. Andreas was so helpful driving the little truck there for me and taking me back first thing this morning.
On Monday night we head to France - Mum, AJ, all my luggage and myself. It is an 11-hour trip, so we will be tired by the time we get there. We are all hoping we get things a little more together for this our third competition. We are all still in good spirits and appreciate it is a sport and horses are not machines. Andreas was there in his NZES (New Zealand Equestrian Sports) t-shirt and was loyally still wearing it after my test!
He knows AJ and appreciates there was nothing anyone could have done in that situation. It's just one I've never had before. In my 30 years of riding dressage competitively, I've never been eliminated. A first for everything and somewhere there must have been a lesson in it or a necessary training opportunity.
I am hoping the next blog has brighter news on the competition side of things!
Louisa & AJ