Luhmuehlen, Germany
Jun 12, 2011

While our horses are still getting a few easy days after the long journey here, we’ve been taking advantage of the spare time to explore the area and rest up ourselves.  We returned to the amazing tack store today and though I again resisted buying everything in the store, we did get to chatting with the cashier.  By “chatting” I mean the hand signaling equivalent as she does not speak any English.  In any case we did manage to convey a reasonable amount of what can only be considered conversation.  When she realized we were competitors she pulled out an aged leather book and started flipping through to show us signatures of all the people that had been to Luhmuehlen over the last 30 or so years.  She had Torrance Watkins, Peter Green, Bruce Davidson, Jack LeGoff, and on and on.  It was such an amazing piece of history and to think that she’d been collecting this all these years was really special.  She asked us to sign our names and our horses and I think I speak for Jennie and Will that it was a real honor.

And while we may not yet have much excitement on the eventing front, our days in Luhmuehlen are anything but boring.  Yesterday our ghost town of a riding center that we’d enjoyed all to ourselves started humming with new arrivals.  At first we noticed several new horses in the barn of the shorter, wider stature with an easy going, kind eye.  I cracked a joke about them being the German equivalent of a Quarter Horse.  Then I went outside and saw the parking lot was packed with countless two horse trailers pulled behind all styles of small cars that really shouldn’t be pulling horse trailers.  Everything from falling apart sedans to shiny new sports cars, a few rickety RV’s and lots of horses tied up to the sides of the trailers.  The scene was most akin to a Pony Club rally, except for the bold decals everywhere of reining horses doing slide stops and slogans like “slide tough”.  Ah-ha!… America’s only equestrian export… Quarter Horses.  There are hundreds of them, some very classy, some…  well let’s just say it’s hard to make a Halflinger look AQHA approved, no matter how much you trim it’s feathered feet and band that mane! 

Most intriguing of all is how they’re not just buying the horses, but they’ve got the whole culture that comes with it!  These German’s have taken to the world of western riding and they aren’t messing around.  They’ve got the glittery outfits, the 30lb Silver encrusted halters (ever wonder how they get those horses to hold their heads so low?), and the uber-shiny black hooves. And more than anything, what would a western show be without a utility belt wielding mother or father armed with no less than 6 different aerosol products, each with a different purpose, and their distinctive smells wafting around the stables.  There’s a collection of venders from whom you can buy anything you want.  From neon colored chaps with fringe to cowboy hats to parelli halters, if it’s western, they’ve got it.  You have country music being piped over the loud speakers, and the announcer asking the riders to “please jog your horses, please jog”.  If the irony of this has been missed on you, just remember that only about 20% of the people we’ve met around town speak a single word of English!  I feel like if I went to warm up, I’d find the rail lined with cowboys wearing comtek’s, coaching their riders in German, but with a heavy Texas twang.  It’s like the whole American Dressage Queen stereotype has been turned completely inside out.  I’m pretty sure these ladies don’t really know what their horse’s name, “Cassidy’s Midnight Dazzler”, actually means, but it sounds authentic and they imported him, so he must be good.  

This whole western extravaganza goes on for two more days so we’ll have plenty of entertainment.  And if you’re worried that we’ll feel lost when this touch of home leaves us on Monday, fear not, because over the next few days all the eventers and our remaining support crew of Mark Phillips and company will start arriving. Then we’ve got jog-up’s on Wednesday and CIC3* dressage Thursday.