I am sitting here in the Dublin airport awaiting my return flight home to Pennsylvania. For the past eleven days I have been traveling all over Europe looking at horses, spectating at LuMuhlen, and then looking at even more horses. The trip has been amazing. I have Phillip and Boyd to thank for organizing the whole thing and encouraging me to take the time to go and check out how the rest of the world does this sport. First off, I have to say I saw so many quality horses. You can ride a lot of horses in eleven days, let me tell you!
I started out flying into Paris where Henri Prudent had organized a friend of his, Joffrey Debut, to take me around France. Joffrey was great and I got to sit on some fabulous horses. He also made time for me to experience some of the French culture which by my rough estimation mostly includes eating ridiculously good food, drinking good wine, smoking cigarettes (I refrained from this activity), and staying up way too late. If I spoke the language (and I needed only 5 hours of sleep every night) I probably would have stayed in France and never come home.
It was also very interesting learning how the French produce their young horses. It is much more structured then in the States. This made my task of trying horses much easier because all the 6 year olds or all the 7 year olds had done more or less the same level of competition so I could measure them directly against each other. After 3 days and 8 cumulative hours of sleep, I jumped on a plane and headed to my next European destination: Germany.
Watching LuMuhlen was a serious education for me. First off, I was there to support my friends that were competing but I was also there to experience my first overseas 4-star. I can tell you, these Germans know how to put on a good event. I watched everything, walked the course 3 times, and ran around the property all Saturday trying to catch as many rides as I could. To be honest everyone made fun of me the whole weekend because I left my clogs in France by mistake and only had flip-flops. So I spent essentially the whole (muddy) weekend in open toed shoes. Yes, I did think about just buying a pair of shoes but every time I went to spend 60 euro on a pair of shoes I didn’t really love I just could not do it. Practicality aside, I am a girl at heart and I WILL NOT buy a pair of shoes I don’t like. Shannon kept saying to me, ‘Hey Lillian, maybe you should wear some flip-flops to go walk the course, oh look…you have some already. Thank god’. In all seriousness, despite a dissapointing cross-country day, I think we all