Luhmuehlen, Germany 
Jun 19, 2011

Since I last wrote we moved from the riding school where we were stabled to the show ground which, conveniently enough, is about 2 kilometers down the road.  The organizers of the event were kind enough to arrange a lorry to drive all of our gear, while Jennie, Will, Nat, and I hacked the 4 horses over.  The whole facility has undergone major upgrades thanks to the upcoming European Championships in September, the most major of which is fancy new footing in all the arenas.  While it’s far smaller than say the Kentucky Horse Park with it’s never ending supply of buildings and arenas, Luhmuehlen still has a grand feeling to it that is fitting with an event of this caliber.  Most of all, the people involved with the event have been incredible!  I can’t think of any other event where several times a day the stabling manager walks down each barn isle to check if everyone is happy and has everything they need.  This attitude seems to be fairly wide spread throughout the staff and it’s been a really pleasant treat. We even finally found internet thanks to the show office sharing their wireless connection. Unfortunately we tested their generosity when, flocking to the only internet for miles around like seagulls to a lone forgotten lunch sack, we managed to crash the entire system!

Finn and the others have all settled in well and are happy.  We’ve been “quarantined” in the farthest back corner of all the barns, barricaded by 3 bags of shavings laid haphazardly across the barn isle.  I’m not sure if we’re being protected or if we’re considered to be contaminated but I’m sure glad to know that all are safe thanks to that “wall”.  And while it probably is not doing much in the way of quarantining us,  it has provided us with good napping accommodations, given great fodder for joking with our Aussie neighbors, and has doubled as a useful lunch table each afternoon.

Yesterday I had a dressage school with Mark in the morning that went really well and then I got to bathing, braiding, and polishing everything up for the Jog.  Come the 3:00 rider’s meeting, we found out that the CIC3* horses were not doing a first jog at all.  I would have felt really stupid if not for “International Nat the Super Groomhaving braided her 3* horse as well!  While it was an annoying exercise it wasting time, I took advantage of my new found gap in my schedule to have a look at the cross country.  While I’ve far from made my plan yet, on first look it seems really good.  The footing is absolutely fantastic and the track seems challenging but fair.  There are several big ditches and lots of wide tables particularly later in the course, but the lines all seem pretty doable.

This morning Will had a fantastic test on Andromaque.  I think it was a career best for the pair and he should be thrilled with the progress he’s managed to make in the relatively short time he’s had Missie.  Immediately after his ride, I had a light school with Mark just getting Finn loose and relaxed. Both Mark and I knew that Finn was in a really good place and I think we both were very excited for my test this afternoon.  When I did get on for my test, Finn was really impressive.  I had a very rideable, relaxed horse with plenty of sparkle left and if the warm up were to be judged, I think we might have won.  Unfortunately, somehow between the warm up and the show arena, I think we left our winning test behind, as the work we did in the ring was fine, but far from what has become our standard.  We had two bobbles, one when we cantered instead of trotted out of the rein-back and the other when we swapped leads in the counter canter, and in general it was just lacking that something extra that separates the good from the great.

In a lot of ways I can shrug it off and say I’d rather save my winning test for a bigger, more important event, but that in no way means that I’m not hugely disappointed.  Jennie made it seem a whole lot better when she told me that if scoring a 51 is a bad day then we’re doing ok and I really couldn’t argue with her. Though today it didn’t show in the score, the work Finn has been giving me over the last few weeks has been on even a whole new level from what I’ve had in the past.  It seems just when I think to myself how lucky I am to have such an incredible horse, he steps it up and gets even better.  When we manage to bring what we had in the warm up to the main ring, I’m pretty sure he’ll blow us all away!