Kerri's Road to Rio - Grooming at a HUGE show...Compiegne!
GO TEAM USA!! What a week at Compiegne! Nothing is better than coming
home after a WIN!
We were all up dark and early to feed the horses at 4am before we had to load up and make the 4 hour drive to Compiegne, France. We took 6 horses and probably too much gear! Fortunately we were able to load up our gear the night before in the big truck we take just for tack boxes, hay, and every other miscellaneous show item you can think of. As much as having horses forces you to be a morning person, most of us are not. I drank a red bull and a coffee all before 7am (and I am not normally a big caffeine drinker). I also made sure the tunes were blasting in the car so I could rock out and stay awake (Spice Girls even came on the radio!).
Stalls at Compiegne!
We arrived at Compiegne mid morning Wednesday and unloaded and tried to get organized. I was spoiled this winter having my own tack stall at Global (and the farm only being 5 minutes away if I forgot something) so we had to improvise a bit when 3 of us had to share 1 tack stall. There were also no lights in the stalls which made things a bit difficult. I swear my eye sight is getting worse as I get older (my sister likes to point out that I am almost 30, because that's apparently old in her world). Mook described cleaning the stalls as "picking through a field for a needle" since it was so dark.
The walk from the stabling to the arenas. I logged lots of
steps on my Fitbit. It kind of made up for all the pastries I ate.
The grooms were supposed to stay in a hotel close to the show grounds but when we arrived, we heard bad things about it so Hallye and Mook went to check it out. When they returned I asked how bad it was and Mook said "I've never stayed in worse". That was his polite way of saying it was horrible! The amazing Hallye (who is the USEF High Performance Director of Dressage) moved all the rooms around (between 2 hotels) and was able to get us all in a much nicer place to stay. We are all so grateful for everything Hallye does for the team!
We finished the day around 930pm, took the 6 roundabouts to the hotel (which seems excessive), and got settled into our hotel rooms. Marlena and I volunteered to share a room because we were one room short. It's funny to think I've known her and Mook only for a couple weeks but we're already like family and overly comfortable around each other.
5* Grooms. (Left to right) Marlena, Kathleen, Alex, Mook, Me
The grooms were up early again Thursday and the 3* horses did the Grand Prix that afternoon. Rosie and Ali had another schooling day so I had an easier day in the grand scheme of things.
Ali and Rosie before the jog!
Friday was another earlier morning because the ring was only open from 7-8 am to school. We like the horses to eat a minimum of an hour before they work. Rosie also goes in a magnetic blanket for 30 minutes so his tack up time is much longer than most horses. The 3* horses did the special. Shelly and Tuny had great rides with Tuny finishing in the top 3! The 5* horses jogged Friday afternoon. Rosie sometimes likes to use the jog as a playtime but he was a total gentlemen for Ali that day!
Rosie's mane is SO thick but his braids look SO
nice! And I recently learned a super easy way to braid, let me know if
you want my secret!
Saturday was Grand Prix day for the 5* horses. Rosie was tack walked first thing in the morning so he could then have some alone time before his early afternoon ride. Rosie is a total sweetheart but he'll give you a look and you know he wants to have his alone time. He also gets hangry when meals are late, but don't we all?
My seamstress skills being put to work.
All of the USA riders had great rides. Ali and Rosie scored a 73.92% to finish in 6th overall! I wasn't around when Rosie was a young horse but it's been so cool to see how mature he's been over the past year as an experienced Grand Prix horse. He knows his job and is just a joy to watch. Kasey had a personal best ride and won the class with Laura right behind her in 2nd overall. Shelly put in a great ride and finished in the Top 10. Team USA just dominated the first day of the Nations Cup! It's so much fun to be participating as a team in a sport that is normally individualized. We have a super supportive group and it was all smiles Saturday evening at the awards.
My boss skills at getting the flag on the outside of the leg!
Ali and Rosie before the awards ceremony. He just stood like
that through the whole thing. What a guy!
Kasey and Dublet. All smiles after a personal best and
winning Grand Prix score of 77.44%
Rain was the forecast for Sunday but I don't think we were prepared for the amount we ended up getting. Ali and Rosie were scheduled to ride the Special that day. The show officials made the smart decision of cancelling the Special and Freestyle because the ring looked like it belonged on an eventing cross country course. There is no sense in risking an injury on your horse when it can be avoided. Everyone was slightly disappointed by the condition of the arena since they were all prepared to go out and have another day of great riding! Since our riders had dominated the Grand Prix Saturday, it was an easy decision to declare USA the winners of the Nations Cup, despite not having the score from the Special and Freestyle. It's always great to be on the winning team!
"Chance of rain guys" - Mook
Perks to a rained out show, lunch with Rosie's owners Fritz
(pictured) and Claudine Kundrun!
The up side to all this was that we were able to pack up and head back to Belgium earlier than expected. We were all exhausted from the early mornings and late nights. Another group effort to load up all our gear and horses and off we were to drive the 4 hours home. Mook drove with me so I would stay awake and entertained. We both started the drive with a red bull (which I later regretted when I couldn't fall asleep at midnight). After 4 stops at gas stations in France, it was determined that France apparently was out of gas so we waited to cross the border and stopped at the first gas station we could find in Belgium. We waited 20 minutes for a pump and Mook loaded up on food, including my new favorite, chocolate covered Oreos! We got home and unloaded as quick as we could. Guenter, Joey, and Zero arrived over
the weekend while we were gone. Joey was so amazing and made sure our stalls were cleaned and the horses had hay when we all arrived. I snuggled a bit with Gracie Lou, who seemed to love the attention! Then Mook and I offered to help the truck driver turn around in the tiny driveway while everyone else went back to their hotels. Little did we know it would be as difficult as it was. The truck driver was really struggling with turning around and it had started pouring rain. I try not to always be bossy, but sometimes
you have to get stuff done! I finally suggested a different option (after being soaking wet and standing there for 45 minutes) and low and behold it worked. A couple small bushes were sacrificed but we
just wanted the truck gone!
We had a super successful weekend as a team! It's always a relief when the show is over and you can come down from the high of winning and the adrenaline that keeps you going. Ali gave me Monday morning off and I slept until 10am (which is almost unheard of with me)! Now some more training until the next show. GO TEAM USA!
Follow along with Kerri here -
Part 1 - Getting to Europe