My upgrade to Germany | An Eventful Life

My upgrade to Germany

   I left my troubles behind and headed for the green grass of Germany

It's been a while since my last blog - only a month past my last deadline with Alison, luckily she has plenty of other things to do, so hasn't been harassing me too badly. At first I was going to write about the injuries to my two good horses, ‘The Barrel’ is out for nine months!! Or maybe I could write about the Olympics ... but there isn't a lot that hasn't already been said about that. So I thought I should give you an update on my European adventure.

    Lying stretched out in business class, so good!

Myself and Stuart Archibald (dressage rider from Victoria) were lucky enough to be given scholarships by Equestrian Australia to fly to Germany and train from August until November. I had never met Stuart before, but heard on the grapevine he was mates with Andrew Heseltine, so figured he would be fairly easy to get along with. The first leg of the flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi was 13 hours and was spent cramming in as many movies into that time as possible. Then quite unexpectedly on our next flight to Germany we were upgraded to business class! I couldn’t believe it – it was awesome. Vibrating, massaging, reclining extra wide chairs/beds to relax in. I’m quite sure that will be our only business class flight for a long time!

    One of the turnout fields at Gilbert Boeckmanns yard

We arrived in perfect 30 degree sunshine and were very keen to get to work. I ended up at Gilbert Boeckmann's showjumping stable who, apart from being the coach for the Australian show jumpers, runs a very successful family business training show jumpers and breeding countless warmbloods each year. His 'stable' consists of 4 indoor schools (2 full size), a massive outdoor arena, walking machine, treadmill, whirlpool, solariums and maybe 150+boxes.

Work starts at a very civilized 7.30am and together with regular yard duties I am getting about six horses a day to ride, some old, some young, luckily not all crazy. There is even a groom at the stable who helps tack up and wash down most of my horses … couldn’t ask for much more than that!

   The massive outdoor arena

I have found the horses very different from the off the track TB's and Irish sport horses that I am used to riding at home. Show jumpers' 'flatwork' is also slightly different from what I am used to. Luckily it’s not all ‘sand dancing’ (unlike Stuart’s job) and Gilbert has been helping me every time I jump, mainly working on my position over the fences and getting the right canter and somehow I have not had my head yelled off in the stereotypical German style … yet. Unsurprisingly many of the things he says to me and the other riders are very similar to what I hear the Australian coaches saying in lessons. Germany doesn’t have any riding secrets that can’t be learn from good coaches back home, although International experience can be invaluable.

   Riding the Black stallion Gabbiano

Having visited Europe before I knew the shows over here were on another level. Yet, I was still shocked when arriving at a local show to see 18 trucks (60 or so horses) from the Schockemoehle stables. I thought we were busy taking eight horses. Even though it was a very small competition, in the scheme of things, there was a massive marquee, three different food stands and of course a bar (the most common buildings in Germany after houses). I can’t wait to see the Bundeschampionate this weekend, which will have all the best young jumping and dressage horses competing. It actually started on Wednesday where Michael Jung and Sandra Auffarth (members of Germany's gold medal eventing team) were beating the show jumpers at their own game, both placing in the top five of their respective classes (one had 75 in it) - who says eventers can't see a distance!

   Boeckmann truck at a show

I'm off to bed so I’ll be in good shape to check out all the talent at the Bundeschampionate.


The photo below is at the Elite foal auction (oops – I forgot to mention about that in the blog) and yes the mare handler is wearing white jeans and gloves!