Enschede, Netherlands, 
Oct 11, 2010

Well it seems like it’s been weeks since we left LA but it’s only been a couple days.  I’ve been having a terrible time with all things technological and I’m convinced it’s because I tried to be so organized before I left.  The European phone has been on and off working… a lot more of the off.  To add to that, internet has been surprisingly hard to find. 

Our flight was mostly uneventful and I enjoyed the privilege of leaving my seat and going through the secret locked door to the back to hang out with Finn.  He, sadly, was the only horse on the flight so his only company was a crate of fine paintings and a classic car and I think it was a little dark and lonely back there for him.  I was greeted with a very sweet little nicker each time I visited, but otherwise he was very stoic about the whole thing.  Our KLM attendant informed me that while I was sleeping one time we had some pretty bad turbulence and that I must be a bad trailer driver because when she checked on him, he was not bothered by it at all!  Anyways, he traveled like a pro.  We landed in Amsterdam Saturday morning and Finn’s pallet was immediately offloaded and taken over to the horse version of customs.  We then had several hours of waiting for all the paperwork to be processed before we could leave the airport.  Much to the amusement of the KLM employee’s and customs agents, I kept falling asleep on the office table in the customs building!  My best manners were no match to jet-lag and a less than stimulating situation.  Eventually they woke me and we loaded Finn and all the gear into a Lorry that was waiting to take us to the Amstel Horse Hotel, 20 minutes from the airport.  We were there by mid afternoon and after fussing over my horse and reorganizing my things for the 3rd time, I went out running to explore the area a little.  After an hour or so of that, I went back to fussing over Finn.  This is the part where the non-working phone, no internet to be found, and no transportation, or socialization became a little bothersome.  Did I mention the Amsel Horse Hotel was like a ghost town on Saturday?  I really am not a social networker, but Saturday I wanted some contact with the outside world.  I had a little 6×8 room with nothing more than a bed, a light, and a door, all of which I was grateful for.  At some point early that evening, I went to bed, not really sure what time it was since the clock wouldn’t change in my phone since it didn’t have signal.

The next day I picked up a little bit of the same routine, although there were more people out to the barn playing with their horses.  Sarah, Sinead, Doug, and Will arrived in their rental car around 10:00 and it was great to have company.  They were thoroughly bored waiting for their horses to arrive, get through customs, and come to pick us up, but for me, the entertainment was rich.  The Lorry with the other three horses and Sinead and Will’s grooms arrived and we got on our way to Boekelo.  When we arrived at the event 2 hours later, we were met by the Organizer and a whole crew of helpers to unload our things and get set up.  They brought us coffee and cookies and made us feel thoroughly welcome.  After that, they took us to the on-site bar and bought us drinks.  Talk about hospitality!

Today we “hacked out” the horses in the morning (Finn and I mostly passaged) and then spent mid-day in town.  I took Finn out this afternoon again and tried to ride a little of the freshness out of him and I hope it had some effect.  He’s been in fine form causing havoc in the barn and I have been trying to convince everyone that he’s really not such a heathen child at his core.  They’re not buying it, and to be honest, they must think I’m a terrible trainer! Oh well, that’s one first impression we’ll be working hard to change, but what are you going to do?  Mark Phillips arrived this evening and we all went out for a riotous dinner and now we’re off to bed.  The event will start hopping tomorrow with everyone else arriving and then we jog Wednesday and competition really starts.

I’m working on getting a phone that has signal in the deep of the forest, and I’ve found the one place in the lobby of our hotel with internet.  I hope to have more contact now that we’re settled, but we’ll see.