As of Monday I only have two weeks left in Europe. The past two weeks have been more eventful and I was counting down the days until I get to see my parents this week.
On the Tuesday of my fifth week here I got to go off-property schooling with one of the horses, which is basically where you get to go to another location and jump school a pre-set course. In this case the schooling was at the Peelbergen Horse Show, the same place the hunter show was at I went to previously. The barn goes once a week for about two hours and it really gives the younger horses, and even the older ones, a chance to get ring experience without having to go to a real show. It gives you the chance to practice a show course over and over until its perfect! I think this opportunity is amazing and I wish we had indoor schooling like this in Canada.
We took three horses in one of the big rigs. I got to ride in the rig on the way and it was really cool ‒ very different than your typical truck-and-trailer in North America, but I almost liked it more. This specific rig can fit about eight horses and has two ramps ‒ one leading to a set of three standing stalls on the right and five slant stalls on the left, and the other at the back which leads to the slant stalls. I think it makes the concept of slant stalls a lot safer; it makes it much easier to reach any horse in an emergency than the traditional slant stall trailers in North America. These trailers also have cameras installed, and a little screen beside the steering wheel shows you everything going on in the trailer.
In the middle of my fifth week here I went to see the new James Bond movie with the barn. The basic concept of a movie theatre here is the same ‒ they sold snacks and drinks including candy, popcorn, chips and pop and they even had a full bar. The two main differences were the Dutch subtitles and the intermission halfway through the movie. I was just grateful the movie was in English, since even after a month I don’t know any Dutch! The intermission was a great idea. It was about five minutes long and gave you just enough time for a bathroom break or to get more snacks. I definitely think this tradition needs to come to Canada!
My sixth week here was pretty uneventful. I was counting down the days until my parents came to visit. I definitely missed them! I am also happy to report that I have officially made friends with the very shy cat at the hotel; as much as I miss my own cats, I love having a couple around to keep me company.
It is beginning to get cold here, but only in the morning and then it quickly warms up. I am getting a little concerned about going home to Canada’s winter!
While I waited for the visit with my family I continued to ride and exercise horses at the farm. I have many different rides, from young horses to older grand prix veterans. It was very interesting to feel the difference between a talented young horse and an experienced one. My typical day starts off with ordinary barn chores including feeding and mucking stalls. We definitely save a lot of time with their automatic water troughs by not hand-watering the horses. The rest of my day is then spent riding and looking after the horses on my ride list. I get to ride such a wonderful wide range of horses that I don’t even have a favourite!
I recently found out how amazing the gas station food is here. No, really! This may sound crazy, but apparently its a pretty common thing in Europe that gas stations also have sandwiches ‒ and not your typical North American gas station sandwich that’s old and not very tasty. The sandwiches from the gas stations here are really good and can even be hot! Some gas stations even have little restaurants where you can order custom sandwiches, really good burgers and fries.
In the next addition of “Diary of a Coaches’ Kid” I will be writing all about trying horses in Europe, and you can follow along as we drive back and forth from Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands to over 10 barns and see A LOT of horses!