Life in the little village of Arget is plodding along quietly. Our first competition was at the Munich-Reim CDI mid May. It wasn't the best experience of my competition career, but there was lots to be learnt from it. In hindsight, it was probably the wrong competition to do first up in Germany. The atmosphere was difficult, with access to the arena through a path in the trees with carriage horses on one side and race horses on the other. I was very grateful (trainer) Andreas was there to help with leading me there and back. The warm-up arena was beside the carriage horses, below the path through the trees, where horses in their various coloured covers were walking. It was full of about 15 fantastic horses and riders. All in all, it was a little difficult and intimidating.
AJ was not bad in the test but it just didn't happen. I was probably a little overawed by everything and didn't ride him positively enough, and we made a lot of silly mistakes. I stayed on for the two days after the test to keep training in that atmosphere and to watch the top riders and horses. There were so many! Probably about 70 grand prix horses between the 3*, 5* and under 25s, and not a bad one in sight.
My favourite was Valentina Truppa's 5* horse from Italy. It was so electric and exciting to watch, and such beautiful riding. Watching Edward Gal and Hans Peter was also fantastic. It certainly is a different world over here.
AJ is still determined it's winter time and has a thick coat but due to him being so fine skinned, I can't risk clipping him so I'm hoping for a season change in his coat. I don't blame him being confused though – we left for the show in snow and came back 3 days later in 30 degrees.
I was planning on another CDI at Achleiten in Austria this week but unfortunately AJ fell over on the concrete the other day. He got a fright when the dogs rushed out behind him – I honestly think there are more dogs than horses here sometimes and there are about 50 horses, so you can imagine how many dogs there are! He is OK, but a little sore so with that and a slight cough, I've had to withdraw and give him a week of walking. It’s disappointing, as apparently it's a fantastic show and I felt I needed to get out there again after Munich and work on my confidence.
I will instead do a big local show at the end of June and hopefully we'll be fit and well for that. London is getting closer and closer. Less than 60 days to go. I feel like I need more time training as I can't change the fact that AJ is still green at this level, and putting a grand prix test together is not easy. On the flip side of that, it will be such a great experience and I'm looking forward to getting to England where I can understand everyone – or most anyway! My mother comes over next week. It will be good to have a bit more company and support from New Zealand.