The countdown to my parents’ visit was finally over and they picked me up in Tienray for an afternoon of walking around Venlo looking at the shops and old buildings. In my opinion the prettiest building in Venlo is the city hall in the middle of a square. We ate dinner right in front of this massive cathedral-like building (pictured above). There was also a carnival taking place throughout the city. It was pretty cool to see the different shops and attractions set up wherever there was room throughout the city. It was definitely different than our carnivals here, where normally they would all be set up in group.

I spent that Monday night in Tienray at my hotel, but we were on the road early the next morning. On Tuesday, we visited two farms and tried a total of six horses: one five-year-old, three six-year-olds and two seven-year-olds. They were all very nice horses and lot of fun to ride; however, my favourite was a grey six-year-old mare from the first farm in Horst, Netherlands.

After visiting the second barn in Zandhoven, Belgium, we were super hungry so we picked a random restaurant and it ended up being very good. The place was a slightly upscale Italian restaurant and I definitely felt underdressed with my breeches, tall socks and slides! That night we stayed in a cute hotel in Belgium called The Pacific Hotel. We have stayed here several times before and I would recommend anyone in the area of Ravels to check it out. The lady who owns the place is very nice and even sent us home with a couple of super-cool European beer glasses.

Forsthaus Seebergen Hotel.

The next day was very long. We spent over five hours on the road and drove up to Northern Germany to try one horse. The barn was incredibly beautiful, with about 100 stalls and a massive entryway. It used to be the home of the famous dressage horse Donnerhall. That night we stayed at a very German hotel, the Forsthaus Seebergen Hotel in Lütjensee, that looked like it came straight out of Hansel and Gretel and had the best schnitzel with spaetzle and gravy.

We started off the fourth day at the same barn retrying the jumper and then got in the car to go to our next stop, which was several hours’ drive back towards Holland. The next barn was definitely a successful one where we tried two amazing horses ‒ an eight-year-old jumper and a four-year-old hunter. Both were very nice and I am pleased to say that we have officially bought the four-year-old grey hunter (pictured at top left)! We actually bought this young horse from the same farm as our horse Golden Ticket, so he definitely has a lot to live up to.

We finished off this day by stopping at a hotel for the night and to grab a quick dinner. While the dinner was great, the rooms on the other hand, although very nice, were most definitely in my opinion haunted! We had two rooms and I picked one and quickly changed my mind when I walked in and there was an old wooden chair creaking by itself.

Belgian barn cats.

On the fifth day we went to three barns and tried one horse at each. All the barns were at least an hour away from each other so it was another day spent mostly driving around. The highlight of this day was definitely seeing the cats at our last barn of the day.

We finished off our day in Belgium by finding a hotel so we could rest before driving back into Germany in the morning. This hotel served up the best dinner so far; I ordered the French onion soup and it was unlike any soup I’ve had Canada. My mom got schnitzel with a cooked pear and it was equally as good. However, the best part was dessert ‒ there was a private party going on at the table next to us and they had crepes made for them and lucky for us they had leftovers that the waiters gave to us.

On the sixth day we met up with a new agent and tried a total of five horses, two of which were very nice. We tried a dark bay five-year-old hunter/eq prospect and a seven-year-old chestnut jumper with very pretty markings. At the end of the day, we drove back into Holland and went to the show at Peelbergen to watch the Grand Prix. It was amazing how fast they can get through such a big list of competitors. Unlike at home where it takes a super long time to finish a Grand Prix, in Europe there are almost always three competitors in the ring and when one was done the other was ready to go. If you looked down at your phone for a minute you would miss a horse!

We drove back into Germany to try three new horses the following day. The last horse of this day was very nice and was a nine-year-old jumper. We went out for a delicious lunch and then drove back to Tienray. That night I took my parents out for dinner at my hotel and then in the morning I went for breakfast with them. We then said goodbye before they drove to Amsterdam to catch their plane the following morning.

I went back to work on Tuesday to finish off my final week in Europe. We spent a total of six days travelling over 2,500 km and although we tried several super-nice jumpers, we unfortunately didn’t find “the one” and therefore I see another European horse-hunting trip in the near future!