Travel day. Not always my favorite… mostly because I get motion sickness and the cabin pressure hurts my ears. However, this was a night flight and I was asleep before we left the tarmac. I was a bit worried about Colombo as I had received a call from Stephanie (teammate/friend) to say he didn’t want to get on her trailer in NC to go to Atlanta airport. I didn’t realize she has a step up, I don’t think he has ever traveled on one? Once I had spoken to her and she put a rope halter on him he gave in and walked right on. Needless to say, I was worried about him getting on the plane and traveling with complete strangers.
Anne Marie and I flew from Toronto to Heathrow, left at 11:20pm April 13th and arrived at 11:20am the next day in England. Then we had to go thru the boarder check with our passports. Hmmm well that was our first battle. She asked me why I was here. I said “Badminton horse show” She asked me what Badminton is!!!!!! REALLY?????? You live here and you don’t know what it is?? Well after I explained all that she wanted to know what we win. Well I have crossed enough boarders to say “a ribbon and maybe a trophy”.
So then she asked me how I paid for it all I explained that I had an equestrian federation travel grant and kind owners. Then she says well do you need a Visa for this…I said “no definitely not, I think my federation ect… would have told me I did.” She wasn’t going to believe me so she went to her supervisor and came back with the answer “you get through without one as a sports visitor”. Phew!
Then we try to get the correct train from terminal 3 to terminal 4 where we are to meet up with Max (Mandiba’s groom), Katherine (Balleynocastle’s groom) and Stephanie. Well it’s a good thing they are free because although the nasty train director seemed to think it was easy and self explanatory, he doesn’t know Anne Marie and I. We got there after three train rides on two different trains:)
We sat and waited at the “meeting point” looking for them to come thru the arrivals gates. No such luck. Then when its almost 3pm (our pick up time) and I am starting to panic they arrive down the escalator where they had been sitting upstairs waiting for us. Oh well, we met up and went outside to be picked up by Carolyn (Henry Bullen’s wife from Pedens horse transport) and taken to Stanstead to meet the horses arriving at 5pm. Extra nice of them to pick us up and drop us off.
We waited for ages till the horses drove around the corner to the barn inspection area in their little grey boxes. this pallet had a roll up soft top so the horses could just see out over the top of their stalls. I could see Mr. C’s wispy forelock and pointed ears. I said “Hi Mr. C” and they pointed my way.
They unloaded, and were inspected by an official with their papers. Then I got to load Colombo onto the horse box and off we went to Maizey Manor in Marlborough – 2.5 hours away Couldn’t really see much in the dark so I slept some more. When we arrived it was quite late so we unloaded all the Canadian gear and the horses. That way the USA horses and grooms could be on their way…another 1.5 hours to their destination. Sheesh!
Once the horses were settled in their HUGE stalls with lots of fluffy shavings. We went into this incredible house. Fantastic artwork on the walls I will try and get some pics of it. Catherine who owns this farm was so nice she had cooked up some dinner. YUM! Wasn’t expecting that at such a late hour. We went to bed in our gorgeous rooms and slept like logs.
Started in the barns at 7:30am. I was pretty sure Colombo would be too excited to eat his breakfast…and I was right. So we gave him all his Omega Alpha, APF and Gastroguard by syringe. Then I took him out to hand graze and walk about for half an hour. What a treat to stay at this amazing facility. A covered hot walker. Round pen. Outdoor ring with all weather footing and very nice jumps. Huge paddocks and their own private gallop track on a great hill with sport turf footing. All this with a lovely view of a VERY old church almost looks like a piece of castle. Red brick houses with horses and ponies dotted all over the place. Never mind the fact that it was sunny and warm?!?! That never happens here… does it??
I put Colombo back in his stall in the hopes he would eat some grain and left him alone for a few hours. I went upstairs to my room with great intentions of writing my Day 1 of activities and promptly fell fast asleep What a surprise… I know. Luckily so did Stephanie so I didn’t feel to bad when we went back out to the barn to turn the boys out. Nice little walk to the paddocks with a view of the gallop and houses ect… Colombo and Ollie were trotting around with their tails over their backs but it wasn’t long before the sweet smell of that green green grass stopped them in their tracks and they began munching.
Later on in the day we tacked them up to go on a walk hack with Catherine and one of her staff members Katey. They took us to see the all weather gallop so we can use it on Sunday for our last gallop before Badminton. First we walked thru a little bit of the village. It’s beautiful with all the tree blossoms and flowers out. Stone and brick houses with ivy covered archways in their gardens. We turned left and passed the church I was talking about and its little cemetery next to it. Then along more of a country road with houses with barking dogs, stable yards with horses heads hanging out and fields full of horses and minis. So cute!
We turned right onto more of a private driveway (long) and at the end was a dairy cow farm. Colombo was pretty good about passing thru that yard…better then a few horses I can think of;) Then into the green fields careful to stay at the edges because of rabbit holes ect.. Did I mention all the hundreds of rabbits we saw? Adorable
We walked along the fields for ages and there were rolling hills in every direction it was horsey heaven. Once we got to the gallop Catherine explained where we go. It starts with an all weather wood chip gallop track and does a long sweeping bend left up hill to some trees. It continues on uphill the whole way thru some more trees and then onto grass to the top…as far as I can tell. I will let you know exactly what it looks like on Sunday after I go up it WEEEEEEE!
As I mentioned Colombo hadn’t been eating so well. He does that during big shows and long trips, so I wasn’t surprised. I think he’s fit and thin enough already so I don’t want him to lose any more weight. I got him some crushed oats and soaked them for a little while then added them to his feed and mixed it up. Voila! Munchety – crunchety
So now I think I have him eating well and the weather is nice plus lovely turn out, I really couldn’t have asked for more. But I got more. Catherine (yet again) made us an incredible dinner. Salad with special cooked Greek cheese in it. I have forgotten the name and doubt I could spell it anyways. Plus avocados, my fave! The BEST risotto I have ever had with sweet potato in it. Then after I had seconds of that she pulls out this amazing rhubarb pudding/crumble and ice cream. YAY
I almost forgot to mention the delicious lunch Catherine made us as well. Carrots with hummus. French bread and cheese with tomatoes and three different kinds of lettuce. Plus pate and ham for the non veggies. Juice and cookies. I was expecting to loose weight here from nerves ect… Somehow I don’t think that will be the case.