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June 22, 2011

All About Luhmuhlen

Missie was brilliant over the three-star track with Will Faudree. Photo by Kerstin Hoffman of Eventing Art.

Well as I thought might happen, I got a little busy, a little exhausted, and searching for internet in Europe is not as easy as it is in the States! Sorry for the delay in writing, but here’s the Luhmuhlen report…

Saturday morning came as early as it always does. Missie’s time was 9:57, so that meant breakfast being served four hours prior and no hay, much to her disappointment.

Nerves don't really get to me when Will is going cross-country. I know that his fitness program and our general management gets them there well prepared, and he is a good cross-country jockey. On the other hand, nerves do get to him a little. It's not a bad thing for the riders to be nervous; I think it makes them ride smart not stupid. How could you not be nervous running around tracks as big as they do? Will goes very quiet and likes to sit, concentrate and wait.

As I sent him out on Missie, I just crossed my fingers that all went well. Unfortunately the majority of commentary was in German, making it very difficult to know where Will was or whether he had gone clear or not. But the smile on his face and the big pat he gave her as he came in let me know that all was good. It was a 6-minute 30-second cross-country, and she recovered brilliantly. The cool-down box was a lot more relaxed than what we usually have in the United States. One vet came and listened to her heart rate and that was it.

We cooled her down as per normal, with one person at her head holding her and one on either side spongeing and scraping, then a walk and back to it. I then jumped in and removed her studs before I took her boots off. Too many times I have seen horses come in, have all their boots ripped off, start to recover and then get antsy. Then next thing you know the whopping studs that had kept them on their feet while galloping have now sliced their legs or coronary bands open. As much as I want to cool their tendons down quickly, getting those studs out and cooling their blood down is my main priority.

Ernie went in the afternoon, which made Saturday seem like a very long day. The one advantage was that I could take care of Missie, icing and wrapping before Ernie even headed out. She had unfortunately lost a shoe on cross-country, but she was none the worse for wear, and Dr. Ober organized for the New Zealand team farrier to put the shoe back on. He did an amazing job as half of her foot had already been missing prior to coming over so nails had to be placed very carefully.

As Ernie headed out, I again felt relaxed (well to a point, it was a big four-star track). They were commentating in a bit more English in the afternoon. When I heard he had had a stop, I have to admit I was disappointed, for Will more than anything. As he came over the finish line I could tell he was furious with himself and yet happy with the way Ernie had felt. Will admits that he never made a true decision to the fence where he had a run-out. However, Ernie felt like a stronger horse than he had around running around Rolex last year, and we are off to Burghley in the fall.

Remarkably, I had a relatively easy Saturday night. We did our final jog at 7:30 that night, and we couldn't have been happier, nor could Dr. Ober, YAY! We made a plan of what to do with their feet, heels and legs, with packing, poulticing and wrapping.

I did all of that, gave them both a big kiss and left them to rest for the night. I truly believe that rest is one of the best remedies. Obviously there are nights when you have to ice and ice and play around with shoeing, but sometimes I just think a warm bran mash, a fluffy bed and being left alone to let the body look after itself is one of the best things you can do.

Sunday morning came around as fast as it always does. I was there around 5:30, and Will was there shortly after. Although they were both fine the night before, and I have just rambled on about rest, you do sometimes get those surprises. Fortunately for us, they looked even better than they had the night before. Again, I believe this is a tribute to Will's fitness program, our vet at home Dr. Tom Daniel, and our overall management on a day-to-day basis. The jog came and went without problem, and it was straight onto the show jumping for the three-star horses.

Missie was amazing! She jumped a beautiful clear round, finishing on her dressage score and moving up to 11th. Would we like to have won? Definitely. Are we excited about the summer and heading to Burghley with her in the fall? YOU BET WE ARE!!!! Jennifer, being the awesome owner that she is, even had to endure a massive hug from me and verbal diarrhea as to how proud of Missie and Will I was.

Ernie's show jump round was a bit of a confusing letdown really. He had a stop at the last element of the triple, and no one really has any idea why it happened. It is so unlike him; I know Will will be watching the video over and over. I am still so proud of how Will kept it together and finished off with a lovely round and never panicked or got flustered. 

We headed on back to the barn, happy yet a bit flat, packed everything up into Jules Stillers’ lorry, said our good byes and that was it. It's always weird—you've hung out with a great bunch of people for the week, there have been some incredible highs, some lows and then, that’s it. You’re driving away wondering if you are hungry or tired or both!

After about 20 hours, I finally arrived at Maizey Manor in Wiltshire in the United Kingdom. Both horses had travelled well; they were tired but happily munching on some British hay.