What happened to my balance? | An Eventful Life

What happened to my balance?


   Having fun as a bull in a mock bullfight

In the absence of university assignments to put off I have been quite successfully procrastinating over putting finger to keyboard for my latest blog, which has not been a good idea because a lot has been going on the past couple of months. I finished up work in Germany, moving to Portugal for three weeks to stay at a dressage stable before going having a week off to go foxhunting in Ireland. 


   One of the stable riders before a traditional Lusitano show

After spending close to three months in Germany I am happy to say it was a very beneficial experience for my showjumping, with at least a 30% decline in ‘eventing distances’. Although being allowed to ride lots of different horses each day is always good to gain experience the real benefit came from the regular coaching of Gilbert Boeckmann. He never says a lot, which is good because I get confused if there are too many things to do, but usually will single out one or two important aspects of your riding which need to be fixed. I must have been doing something right because he was yelling at me less and less the longer I was there. Was I learning or was he getting sick of saying the same things over again, let’s hope it was the former!

Although I was lucky enough to ride several really nice jumpers the favourite horse I rode over there and the horse, which gave me the best feeling out of ANYTHING I have ridden before was the resident dressage stallion Fidertanz. Never before have I ridden a horse which was so light yet had such amazing power and suspension (besides the boss' Porsche).

   Both Fidertanz (above) and the Boss' Porsche (below) had amazing suspension

North-West Germany also hosts many of the big jumping events on the calendar. One of the bigger competitions I was able to visit was the German Classics in Hannover. This was a really amazing show deserving of its 5* classification with riders such as Ludger Beerbaum, Christian Ahlmann, Marcus Ehning and Pius Schwizer. It was a very good show for the home country with Ludger and Marcus winning the big classes on both Saturday and Sunday. Watching those riders was almost like a masterclass in perfection. 

   Ludger Beerbaum at the German classics 

The week before I left Germany I decided to go and work in Portugal for three weeks at Morgado Lusitano, a dressage stable, instead of travelling around Europe and it turned out to be time well spent. Never having ridden a Lusitano horse before it was a completely different experience to the warmbloods and even thoroughbreds. Being quite small they take a little getting used to but when you do they are really comfortable horses to ride and are very capable at all that fancy ‘sand dancing’ stuff.
   Good things come in small packages - at least they do in Portugal

While I was there I worked the young horses until lunchtime then the show horses afterwards. Some of the horses were really well schooled and I was able to play around with the two time changes, piaffe and passage, which on my previous attempt in Germany had not gone that well. Most Portugese don't wear watches so after Germany's punctuality you have to relax and not get worked up when everything isn't happening on time, which is a regular occurrence. In saying that it was a really good place to work with some really nice horses and good coaches. I picked up plenty of German but when it came to Portugese my boss only taught me a few very useful phrases, which cannot be repeated here.

   Here I am riding a Check in x Balou du Rouet gelding in Germany

After three and a half months of work it was time for some relaxation, although fox hunting in Ireland would be classified as relaxing by most sane people. Jumping hedges, stone walls and wide, deep and very muddy drains was ‘all in a day out’. I found Portugal to have a very similar climate to Sydney, so my body received a mighty shock upon waking in Ireland to frost which lasted until almost midday, all the more reason not to get out of bed too early. For anyone that hasn't been to Ireland, all the stereotypes are true. Yes they do drink a lot of Guinness Jamesons but that just makes them more friendly and hospitable than they already are when sober … oh wait, they are Irish, who am I kidding - sober isn't in their dictionary. 

   Off hunting

I then made a quick trip to London to catch up with friends and family. This also involved a day in Hyde Park ice skating. After a 10 year hiatus I thought that the skills would come to me again easily, unfortunately my balance is not nearly as good as I would like. So it was more Donald Duck than the Mighty Ducks as my companions can attest. Somehow I made it through the session without injury despite several spectacular crashes that kept the crowd entertained. Cross country is a much safer option I think. 


   What happened to my former skills?

Now my circadian rhythm (or whatever Dr. Karl calls it) is getting back onto Australian time. Mum went on holiday the day after I got home so have been keeping myself busy looking after the farm and working a couple of my young horses. Also hoping I don't eat too much over Christmas because I am already carrying too much German wurst and bier around with me. 

While this year has been a bit up and down, I was given a great opportunity by EA to go and train over in Europe so for that I am very grateful. Thanks also to everyone who has helped me thoughout the year, most importantly my parents, Southern Stars Saddlery, Thinline and of course all those girls who are kind enough to plait up horses for this hopeless guy at events.