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June 9, 2011

We've Arrived, And A Blog War Has Been Declared

Will Faudree held on tight as Pawlow (left) and Andromaque (right) nibbled on some grass by the vetport at JFK airport.

Well after a brief 24 hours, door-to-door, we made it!

On Tuesday, we hung out at the vetport. As you can see from the photo, Will and I took Ernie and Missie grazing before we had to be locked up for quarantine. It always seems weird hand-grazing by the side of the road on the edge of a city with cars and trucks going past. I break all the Pony Club rules by wrapping the lead rope around my hand; I am NOT letting go and would rather be drug than lose either of these horses in the middle of an industrial park, or anywhere for that matter.

Tiana Coudray and Kelley Merette (Jennie Brannigan’s groom and right-hand girl to Emma Ford at True Prospect) arrived just in time to make quarantine with Finn and Ping. Then, the female chatter started, catching up on everything since Jersey Fresh a month ago, which was the last time we had all seen each other.

We briefly discussed the tragedy at True Prospect Farm just a week ago, and it sounds like there are some incredibly strong individuals and that as a team they are really pulling together and recovering as best can be expected.

Then it was the usual gossip and laughter and then silence as we all turned to our phones. Whatever did we do before modern technology? I’m terrible at best about returning calls and yet would still find myself lost without my cell—well the solitaire game on it anyway. I said that to Tiana and Kelly only to find out they were both blogging, too. Turns out Kelly had been asked to blog by the Professional Riders Organization and Tiana by Eventing Nation, and so it has begun, BLOG WARS!

This has now turned everything into a competition, whether it be vying for more views on Facebook to who can get the best photos. As we were waiting in the departure lounge, from afar I could see the horses coming across the tarmac, at which I clambered over five sets of chairs yelling, “This is my shot, I saw it first!” Of course the rest of the passengers looked at me like I was crazy—if only they knew the truth!

Taking Off

So, to backtrack a bit, we loaded the horses on a truck at 2 p.m. on Tuesday to be shipped over to the pallets. This point is always like saying goodbye to your first child going off to their first day of school (I think, not being a parent of the two-legged variety of child). I packed them two haynets, a schoolbag (well, an overnight bag with grain, Gastrogard and blanket, and of course some peppermints) and a bucket.

Once they are loaded on the truck, we don’t get to see them again until we are all on the plane. I’m always pretty relaxed about this as there is nothing I can do. I do have a moment though with a horse like Ernie, who can be so quirky about people, and Missie, who hates going through narrow spaces, but they are always fine and what I don’t know is probably better. 

At that point, Kelly, Tiana and I headed off to the airport to check in, get some lunch and do some shopping. Once we boarded the plane, we were able to go back and see the horses. We fly with KLM on a combi flight—it’s half passenger and half cargo. The majority of passengers have no idea that there are horses on board. We sit in regular seats right at the back of the plane, get regular meals and all the movies. There were nine horses in total on the flight, and since five of them were travelling without grooms, KLM provide a groom themselves and Mersant also provides a groom. Ernie and Missie were happy to see my face (well I like to think so!).

I stayed with them until the seatbelt signs in the cabin had been turned off. They both handled takeoff very well—nothing that a couple of treats didn’t fix. I gave them a little dinner and headed back to the cabin for my dinner and a movie. After that, it was back to check on them, offer them some water and make sure they were all settled. I decided that the thought of sitting cramped for the next six hours wasn’t for me, so I made a little bed in the cargo area and had a nap.

We all stayed with them for landing in Amsterdam and then again had to disembark and go through “immigration and customs” then head on over to the Amsterdam vetport. I feel like I am getting to know these vetports and the people that work there. It’s a good thing, since although they can’t move the paperwork any faster, they certainly allow me to go places they often won’t let you. We had about four hours of killing time waiting for the export papers to be filled out and the vets to check our papers and horses and then off we go.

Typical Travel Troubles!

Well not quite, as the truck driver managed to run the trailer with all our gear into a concrete lip and put a great big hole in it. Luckily the fix-it man was there and got it done at the same time we got handed all the paperwork. Tiana, Kelly and myself each repeatedly offered to change the tire, but our driver wasn’t quite seeing our sense of humor!

So we were off again, just a mere seven-hour trip into Germany and to the barn where we are staying until Tuesday, when we can go to the showgrounds. It was a long seven hours—I rode in the back with the horses, and at hour five, felt like a prisoner in solitary confinement. And I’m a person who loves solitude. Oddly but luckily, the truck driver had one of those stationary bike things for exercise, (though by the looks of him, clearly he hadn’t used it a while) so between that and the remaining bit of battery on my cell phone, I kept myself entertained. I pedaled for a good 40 minutes and sang along with some good tunes. I’m sure it soothed the horses, NOT!!!

Well that is about all I can manage to write for now—Jennie has arrived, and we have just got back to our hotel. So many stories to write, and it’s only the end of Day 2!

 

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