Saturday, May. 25, 2024

The Young Horse World Championships Journey: Part 1

My journey to the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken, Belgium, with Catania Saflo Z (Minnie) and Carrasca Z (Hank) began at 3:30 a.m., on Saturday, Sept. 12. The horses were to be picked up at 5 a.m., to go to quarantine before flying out and I wanted to make sure they got a mash before leaving.

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My journey to the FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses in Lanaken, Belgium, with Catania Saflo Z (Minnie) and Carrasca Z (Hank) began at 3:30 a.m., on Saturday, Sept. 12. The horses were to be picked up at 5 a.m., to go to quarantine before flying out and I wanted to make sure they got a mash before leaving.

Luckily, I was up early as Tony Aprile pulled in with the semi at 4:20. Tony is always early and one of my friends and I were laughing the night before that if he said 5, he would be there at 4:30. Once we loaded the horses we were off to quarantine at Arlington Race Track where they had to be for six hours before flying out. It was quite exciting sitting at Arlington all morning watching the baby race horses going back and forth track; some of those exercise riders must double as bronc riders!

I always thought it would be so exciting to be an exercise rider and gallop around the track but I also appreciate the difficulty they have in riding such youngsters around a busy place.

Once the horses had been at quarantine long enough and been checked over by the USDA vet, they were loaded back up and Tony hauled them over to KLM Cargo at O’Hare International Airport. Around 2 p.m., they brought out the air stall and the horses were walked off the truck over a ramp and directly into the air stall.

When you first look at the air stall you think, ‘How in the world are the horses going to fit in there comfortably for 12+ hours?!’ There is actually more room than you think and IRT does a wonderful job of making sure they have hay and water throughout the trip. After the horses were in their “stall” they had to be accompanied by a USDA vet tech and out they went to the tarmac to wait to be loaded onto the plane. 


There they go! 

When flying KLM it is a bit different than just taking a cargo plane as these planes are combination planes—meaning these planes carry both passengers and cargo. As such I had to go through the regular passenger terminal and board the plane like every other passenger. It was really neat though because I was in the last row of the plane but right behind me there was a door leading into cargo and the horses were right on the other side of the door. As long as the KLM attendant was with me I could go back there anytime.

Hank and Minnie were troopers on the plane although they did get a bit nervous during take off before settling in. Even with the bad turbulence we got they just kept eating and drinking.

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Finally at 7 a.m., we arrived in Amsterdam and went to the animal hotel where the horses had to get checked over before being released by the government vet. It was then that we realized we had a big problem! KLM said our equipment was not there and they had no idea where it was; the scanner showed that it was at the Amsterdam airport, but they could not find it anywhere there. After them searching for two hours with no luck we left with the horses to go to Zangersheide and were quite stressed that the horses did not have their feed, blankets, or tack. 


Hank (Carrasca Z) making himself at home. 

While the gates did not open for the Young Horse competing horses until Tuesday, Zangersheide allowed us to come in a few days early because we had made such a long trip. They very generously made sure our horses were settled in with feed, buckets, and water since we did not have anything.

Finally late that evening Matt at IRT called and said they had found our equipment at Chicago and he personally would make sure it was on the next plane to us. It had gone through customs and was ready to be loaded but for some reason KLM had bumped it off the plane. Thankfully, it arrived to us Monday mid-day and I could breathe easy again! The horses settled in very nicely at Zangersheide and got a light flat on Monday while catching up on their rest.      


The grounds at Zangersheide for the World Championships for Young Horses—like any other horse show but a bit more exciting!

I am sure people are wondering how I was able to bring two horses. Friday during the Hampton Classic, I got an email that both Carrasca (Hank) and Catania were accepted and invited to the World Championships for Young Horses. At this point we still did not know if we were even going to be able to take Catania. Upon talking to IRT we learned that if we were going and flying out of Chicago we would have to buy a pallet regardless of whether there were one or two horses on it. My grandfather, who Hank was named after, so generously stepped in and said he would help pay for Hank’s shipping. My grandfather is quite old and after my grandmother died last year Hank has been one of the only things that my grandfather is still excited about; he always wants to know how his horse is. 

After more donations came in on my GoFundMe we made the decision that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we were going to make it happen.  

It took a whole team to get to this point and I am forever grateful for everyone’s help in making it possible. My parents, who time and time again work incredibly hard to find a way to make all my dreams come true. My brother and sister who always have my back and are there when I need them whether it is to make me laugh or tell me to step up. The rest of my family and friends who so generously donated to my cause both financially and emotionally with their support; without them this trip would not have happened. 

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Tony Aprile, who is like family to me, and his company Aprile Shipping who have been hauling for us since I was 8 years old—I would trust him with my life (and my horses, which are infinitely more important). He helped to organize my shipping from our farm to Zangersheide and back to our farm and he himself picked the horses and I up to make sure everything went smoothly. IRT Shipping who answered all of our questions patiently and was right there when KLM left our equipment in Chicago making sure it came the next day to us. This was our first time shipping horses to Europe and I would use them again in a heartbeat. 


Minnie all settled in at Zangersheide after our equipment finally arrived!

Dr. Duane Wilcox and Dr. Allison Powers keep our horses in tip-top shape and prepared them for the trip, helping us to make sure they would arrive healthy and ready to go. Stuart our farrier at Rood and Riddle who drives up to our farm and always goes the extra mile to take care of our horses’ feet. Jill at Malvern Saddlery has been dressing and outfitting me for forever and she always makes sure the horses and I are prepared with the best quality equipment and true style. 

Of course, this would not be possible without Equiline, who so generously supports my clothing with their wonderful craftsmanship. I am not lying when I say I am in love with their clothes because they not only fit beautifully but they are the most comfortable show clothes I have ever had the pleasure of wearing.   

The FEI World Breeding Jumping Championships got off to a start with the jog on Wednesday, Sept. 16. I’ll check back in tomorrow to fill you in on how the weekend went.

Chronicle blogger Taylor Flury rides out of her family’s AliBoo Farm in Minooka, Ill., and competes primarily in the jumpers, specializing in bringing along young horses. She also runs AliBoo’s breeding program. Flury’s former top mount is the U.S.-bred Role Model (Roc USA—Darling Devil), who claimed U.S. Equestrian Federation Horse of the Year titles in 2011 and 2012 in the 5- and 6-Year-Old Jumper divisions and won at grand prix.  

Read all of Taylor’s blogs here.

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