The Beginning Of A Mexican Adventure

Oct 14, 2011 - 5:58 AM
From left: Frankie, Verena and Ursula have arrived in Mexico. Photo courtesy of Verena Sonstenes-Mahin.

It’s amazing the twists and turns you make in your life and how fate plays its role in creating chance meetings that turn into life-changing experiences.

I am a dressage trainer born in Germany and trained in Holland. I am currently based in Somis, Calif., where I train and compete for VS Dressage.

I’ve had the great pleasure of training both Franchesca Liauw and Ursula Lange, both riders for the Puerto Rican team, which is how I got here, and where my story begins.

We arrived in Guadalajara yesterday, tired and excited from our short but nerve-wracking flight from California.

There are so many things that have to go right, and having never been to Mexico before, I could feel my nerves as the airplane tires hit the runway.

I had been told many scary things leading up to this journey into the south, and so my senses were heightened to my new surroundings.

Very quickly I came to realize that the Mexican people were most welcoming and helpful. All the stories of dark alleyways, guns and kidnappings started to fade as we bumped through the streets of brightly lit downtown Guadalajara on our way to the Athletes Village.

The horses would be arriving at 1 a.m. After inspection, they would be released in the morning.

Thankfully, the travel went well and both horses were tucked in their stables, rested and ready for some light work.

As you enter the stable area, which is swarming with policemen carrying  rifles, you walk over a threshold of disinfecting solution that has a sponge-type consistency. The stables are clean and beautiful, with all the flags hanging up on the various barns, representing their country.

There was a joyful mood, and we were excited to all reunite as we curiously peeked at our neighbors and scoped out the grounds.

The grounds are in a beautiful riding club that seems to be a golf course during regular season, but has been transformed into a horsey paradise. The horses had to step onto the disinfecting pads on their way to the arenas and let me tell you, I think if the jumpers had seen our dressage horses as they took flight over these alien sponge-like things, they would have been super impressed.

Training time: 20 minutes of light stretchy work and lots of walk and our workout after a long night of travel was complete. Both horses, Marco and Lobbi, were super happy to be out and stretching their legs.

Then came the grueling 1½-hour taxi ride back to the Athletes Village. Rush hour in busy Guadalajara is something else. Jam-packed in our tiny yellow taxi that felt no bigger then a jellybean, we headed towards our destination. Cars honking, sirens blaring, and for some reason everyone drives with the window down. So after an hour of inhaling all kinds of diesel fumes I was feeling quite high—my Spanish started improving by the minute! Big trucks passed by with men dressed in blue uniforms hanging out the window with machine guns.

We told the taxi driver that we were quite impressed by the police reinforcement down here and asked why they hang out the back of the truck with machine guns. He replied that these trucks and men are just the traffic police! Apparently they really take their parking tickets seriously?

We swerved in and out of the heavy lines of traffic just barely missing, people, cars, and buildings until, phew!!!, finally the Athletes Village was within sight: a massive white cluster of tents, backed by a stunning stadium against one of the city’s many hills.

Time for a cold beer!

VS Dressage




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