Goodbye Europe and Goodbye Donnabella

     Donnabella is now in Quarantine in England, where she will spend the next 3 weeks before flying back to Australia. 

  She is one of 39 horses that are flying to Australia on the 20th of January.  Most of the horses are young Thoroughbreds, but there are also 9 Gypsy Cobs!  Apart from Donnabella there is one other Warmblood travelling to Australia, also a bay mare, and her name is Belladonna, very confusing!  Most of the horses are quite young ranging from a weanling to 7 year olds, and then there is Donnabella at 14!  The grooms tell us she is much easier to handle then some of the weanlings and yearlings that have not been handled.

The horses a being looked after by a groom named Libby from Queensland, and she will also be with them in Sydney.  She seems familiar, but I think it is just the Australian accent! 

In England Donnabella will go on the walker twice a day, but I think when she gets to Sydney she will just spend the three weeks in a stable.

Mum and I will fly home on New Years Eve, and will be home on the 2nd of January.  Its going to be a long six weeks without Donnabella and i’m looking forward to the 13th of February when she gets out of Quarantine!

It has been a great trip, I have learnt so much and have had a wonderful time.  Thankyou to NSWIS, Dressage NSW, Hutcheon and Pearce Cowra, Cowra Machinery Centre, Young Dressage Association, Central West Dressage Group, NCB Bellamys, Cowra Bowling Club, Kaleen Trust and Lachlan Fertilizers who all helped finance my trip to Europe.  Also thankyou to everyone who bought raffle tickets or made donations, every dollar helped.

   A big thankyou goes to Roger Fitzhardinge for flying over to help me at Frankfurt and Mechelen and organising training with Arjen Teeuwissen.  It was great to have Roger at these huge shows with me and we had a great time.

  Another big thankyou goes to Simon Kale for flying with Donnabella and making sure she arrived safe and sound.  It was reassuring to have a friend who had flown with horses before looking after my special horse.

  And a huge thankyou goes to my Family.  My Mum left the rest of our family and travelled to Europe with me and did most of the organising for the trip.  My Dad stayed home and ran the farm without Mum in the our busiest time of the year, usually we are all driving tractors all day and night, and i’m sure he was very stressed without Mum and I there.  But my brother, at 14, organised to have the month off school, to help Dad run the farm.  Even though they were busy on the farm, Dad and Matt found time to look after the horses, and even put them in the stables when the farm was in flood.

So thanks again to everyone for making this trip possible and have a Happy New Year!

Megan :)

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1)  Donnabella in her stable in the quarantine station in Newmarket
2)  Mum in the beautiful suits we had to where in the quarantine station
3)  Three of the Gypsy Cobs being imported into Australia
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Mechelen CDI

  I was lucky enough to get a start at Mechelen in the PSG on the 27th of December.  It is a very popular show in Belgium and I have to thank Equestrian Australia and Roger for helping me get in.

  We arrived on the 26th in Arjen’s truck, which Frank was kind enough to drive.  Roger had told us that it was bigger than Frankfurt, and he was right!  It was Children’s day and it was packed!  They had lots of fun things for the kids like pony rides and shetlands galloping around.

  Mechelen is a World Cup qualifier so many of the top riders were there competiting, including WEG riders Edward Gal, Adelinde Cornelissen, Imke Schellenkens-Bartels, Hans Peter Minderhound and Patrik Kittel.  It was great to riding around with these riders and thanks to Roger I got to meet Imke and Adelinde. 

  Donnabella passed trot up and it was interesting to see the fashion for trot up seemed to be old jeans and ugg boots, worn by both Edward and Patrik.  After trot up I decided to ride Donnabella, the warm up is a little bigger than Frankfurt though it is split into 3 smaller arenas.  I picked a good time to ride and there wasn’t a heap of people, though the 30 x 30 arena was quite full with a person lunging, a few walking horses, showjumpers galloping around and Donnabella, who coped much better than Frankfurt. 

  Once again it was an early start for Mum, Roger and I with the main arena open at 6am.  I warmed her up outside before we headed to the main arena, and once again she reared, spun and bolted when she saw the entrance to the arena.  She has never had to walk through those plastic strips that you see in the doorways of butcher shops, and she was not about to start.  With Mum and Roger holding them open as best they could she managed to sneak through.  The arena was packed with riders as usual but Donnabella was very brave and managed to work around the Grand Prix horses.

The PSG started at 8am on the 27th and with Imke, Adelinde and Patrik competiting against me, we definately were not expecting much.  The class was packed with amazing horses.  Donnabella was much better in the warm up than at Frankfurt, she is getting a little braver.  She tiptoed through the scary entrance and had one spook while we circled the arena and we almost ended up inside it arena!  But when it came to the test she was great, just a mistake in the fours.  We weren’t expecting a high score but I thought 58 was a bit harsh and so did everyone we spoke to including Imke.  Patrik Kittel won the class but only a 69% and Imke Schellekens-Bartels was 2nd on 68% and if they only score that than how am I suppossed to get a good score.  I finshed in 13th place which was better than we expected.

  I watched the Grand Prix with Mum, Roger, Chris Hector and Ros Neave, and saw some great horses.  Edward won with Sisther De Jeu on 71.7%, 2nd went to Hans Peter Minderhound and Equis Nadine on 68.2% and 3rd was Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill on 67.9%.  Sisther De Jeu is no where near as calm as Totilas in the presentation, as soon as Edward walked out he jumped off and she was taken back out.  Though Edward did not have a horse he still ran the lap of honour on foot! 

  It was disappointing I could not stay to watch the freestyles on the following day but Donnabella had to be in England for quarantine by the 28th.

Megan :)

Thanks to Roger for these great pictures.  1) Donnabella trotting past Damon Hill and Sisther De Jeu. 2) Looks like Edward is watching us.  3) Donnabella in the PSG and my last ride on her until she arrives home in mid February.

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Merry Christmas Australia

Arena Christmas Decorations

Merry Christmas to everyone at home, hope your Christmas will be warmer than mine.  We wanted a white Christmas but we didn’t want this much snow!  Yesterday the vet, 2 farriers and now the electrician have all run off the road just coming down the driveway and needed to be pulled out of the snow!  At this point we are unsure whether we will be able to get to the show at Mechelen on Sunday, hopefully the snow disappears in the next two days.

  Many buses, trains, boats and planes have been stopped or delayed, and we need to be in England by 8am on Wednesday 29th for Donnabella to go in to quarantine.  If we don’t make it, Donnabella won’t be able to get on the next flight to Australia.  And with flights only going to Australia once a month, it looks like we could be stuck here another month!

At this point it looks like we might not even have any food on Christmas.  Mum tried to catch a bus to the shops, but no buses were running because of the snow.  So someone from the stables offered her a lift but before they left the electrician ran off the road and was blocking the driveway!  After he got pulled out of the way, they tried to go again but found the car pretty much bogged in the snow!  With mats under the wheels and four people pushing eventually the car got out of the snow.  So now mum is on her way to the shops and hopfeully she returns with some Christmas food!

Anyway have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, hope we get back in Australia soon!

Megan and Donnabella :)

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Sunday – Freestyle

    Saturday was the A final, so it was a nice relaxing day just watching!  Of course the two Germans were amazing scoring 79% and 78.750%, but the bottom few riders had major mistakes and still managed reasonable scores over 63%.  I was so close to making the A final, and to getting a rosette.

    The next morning was the B final and I was 7th to go.  The scores began low at 54% but crept up to 66% before I entered the ring.  I was happy with my test and thought it would be higher than 66% but the judges thought otherwise.  All five judges had a different rider in first place, with the Dutch judge placing me first with 68.5%, but my final score was 64.85% and 4th place.  I felt the judges were a bit harsh with their marks and so did many of the riders.  But I am happy, I rode three tests without mistakes and Donnabella was so well behaved in the massive arena.

    After the freestyle we headed back to Belgium, where we will train for the next week with Arjen Teeuwissen again, before we compete at Mechelen on the 27th December.  The snow was so thick on Sunday and we did well to get back, it took us almost twice as long as it should have though!  Many flights have been delayed over here due to the snow, lucky we are not leaving until new year.

    I’m excited for the show at Mechelen where we will compete in the PSG.  After the show we will head to England where Donnabella will spend 3 weeks in quarantine before flying home! 

Megan :)

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Friday – Individual Test

    Today I was first up in the YR Individual test, not the best draw, but hey when your results go up on the screen there is a number 1 next to your name!  She was much happier in the warm up today, the tent stopped flapped and creaking, the snow stopped, so no snow falling from the roof and blowing up in her face!  Also we made sure there wasn’t a stupid guy that was going to pull the curtains shut right across her face!  After all these scary things, the huge indoor was the least of her problems, so she thought it was a lovely time to relax and have a little sleep!

    Anyway today, she was more relaxed in the warm up so I could make her more responsive to my leg.  We pulled off a accurate mistake free test, but being first on did not help our score, finishing on 63.895.  I was running 3rd until the last 5 riders, all beat me!  We were all happy with the test, and I am amazed at how well she handled the indoor and when the crowd clapped she just walks out!

    Tonight all the World Cup riders we invited to the City Hall, where the mayor made a speach and the draw was done for the Grand Prix and YR Freestyles.  There was not many more Young Riders present at this draw, riders from Australia, USA, New Zealand, Brazil, Germany (Sanneke) and Canada attended, only 6 riders out of 14! 

    After that the riders were invited to a dinner at our hotel, Hessischer Hof, where 3 more Young Riders decided to show, France, Sweeden and Germany (Fabianne).  The dinner was really nice and most of the Young Riders sat together.  On my table was Meagan Davis (USA), Sanneke Rothenberger (GER), Georgia Worth (NZL), Jamie Holland (CAN), Pauline Lecercq (FRA) and Victoria Riskalla (BRA), though the other two did not sit with us at least they came and spoke in the our thankyou speech.  All the Young Riders I have meet have been really nice people, but I have only meet the half that turn up to the events!

    Its also been nice to see some fellow Aussies at Frankfurt over the last two days.  James Patterson-Robinson is competing, Lyndal Oatley is here watching Patrik and Chris Hector and Ros Neave are also here watching the show!

Tomorrow is the A final and a rest day for me!  The B final will be Sunday morning.

Megan :)

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Thursday – Team Test

Well what a day

This morning saw a warm up from 6 til 7 for the Young Rider World Cup horses but it became a free for all for every dressage horse and showjumpers.

There  was 21  horses in the 20 x 60 at one time with another 10 around the outside!

Megan did a great job to even get in there and do some work and her mare is a worrier about other horses so it was not perfect but a great experience and it was OK.

So it was a very cold day and at 2 in the afternoon it was still minus 4!

Plaited up and already for a 6.50 draw and a few hours before this start time it started to snow really quite heavily!

The wind picked up and it was freezing cold.

We started the warm up in the stable area arena and walked with rugs on for 15 minutes and then went to the warm up next to the indoor. It’s a huge marquis and with the weight of the snow it was sagging a little and then as the snow slipped off the roof it was a really bad noise and feeling but it was worse as when the snow was off the roof the whole tent was billowing in and out and the snow was wafting in under the edges!

The snow would build up again and the whole structure would creak and grown and then the snow would fall off again and so on.

There were all the grand prix and small tour horses in there as well and its about 30 metres square with poles in the middle. No longside no twenty metre dimension and crowded.  Surely no ideal but that’s life at these comps and everyone just copes.

Megan stayed super focused and cool and Stella was actually showing some great stuff between snow drifts and loony horses sideways everywhere.

Time to go in and all timed so well.

As the previous horse came out through the race Stella was trotting in and was great and a few mteres from the entry the gate person who was on his phone drew the huge red curtains closed in Stellas face! Already a bit tweeked up it was bad and she propped reared up spun around and cleared the alley of people and even the jack russels scattered! She headed swiftly back toward the warm up and was not going back to those red curtains again!

She did as I walked beside her and Megan was very logical and composed and she is a tough competitor and was back on the job. As there is no room to trot around the outside you start from inside the arena. As we were a minute at least returning form the curtain incident poor Megan had only a circuit and they rang the bell ! I fear they did not realize the carryon that the gate attendant had created! ( Not Good at all)

So on with the show and in the hassle of the gate carryon the arena crew did not put the letter A back at its place but 2 metres away on the side!

No centerline and no markers not easy!?????

Megan was off to a good start and at the end of the trot work it was a running score of 65.8%.   Pretty good considering!

In the walk it was ok but one step missed in the 2nd walk pirouette and the marks go down to 61% ???!!! whatever and it was on the way up bit by bit.

The changes were all clean and the pirouettes the best control there has been so it was all positive.

Lets be honest here it was not good enough and needed to be sharper quicker and more expressive.

Megan was disappointed in the test a little but on the other hand was pleased that this was a warm up test and counted for nothing perhaps a bit of pride and of course disappointment but Megan is logical and analytical and wonderful in her attitude.

It was a great experience and we have sat down looked at the video and realize there were many marks lost that can be easily retrieved and retrieving them easily tomorrow will bring her up in the top 6.  There was merely 1.5% between 5th and 11th spot !!!

Tommorow is another day and believe me its do or die and we are all out to set the place on fire

Stella is first out and nothing to lose and a really expressive test

Less warm up. First out means no one in the warm up and the crowd will be down not that Stella worried about that tonight.

We cant wait to back in there

We are out to represent Australia and that we will do and tomo it will be better.

Ebver test is a learning experience and it was good to have that test today.

I am not kidding when I say that it was a tough warm up!

You always live and learn and tomorrow will be the proof to see if we have.

By the way the German horses were simply amazing and the 1st and 2nd were both riders of Olmpics family history in dressage! It helps.

Put them in Australia in the country area and see if the outcome would have been the same.

No sour grapes at all the winners deserving and the judging fair but tough on the bottom ¾ and lenient on the ones they knew at the top ¼!

All fair I reckon we just have to get better and tomorrow is a challenge

Hope it will be good to get in the top 6 is the challenge and we are up to it!

See what  happens

Roger

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Wednesday – Trot Up

     Today we had the trot up and Donnabella passed as did all the other Young Rider horses, though about 10 of the 14 had to represent multiple times, some even 3, 4 or 5 times!  Trot up is not taken as seriously here as in Australia, most riders did not get dressed up, and some didn’t even plait.  I also thought it was a rule that trot ups must be done on a hard surface, but we did it in the warm up arena on a lovely thick surface, and still most horses needed to be represented.  

    After the trot up was the draw for the first two competitions, and we spent half of the day searching for the room, with people telling as all different complex directions, and there is one million doors in this place!  We were first to arrive at the draw, followed by the riders from USA, Canada, NZ and Sweeden, and none of the other riders bothered to come.  They drew names out of a hat, then the rider picked out a number, which would be the order for the competition.  My name was last to draw out for the first competition, the Team Test, so I got 9th, which is quite good I think.  For the 2nd competition, the Individual test, I was the 2nd last rider to be called out, and only had 1st and 4th to choose from, and of course pulled out number 1!  It its not the best draw, but it will be ok, it was annoying though that all the riders that did not come got great positions in the draw.

   The competition venue is right in the centre of Frankfurt, with all the high rise buildings.  The stables are actually in a car park, on the concrete so we have heaps and heaps of straw!  The walkway between the stables and the warm up and main arena is only really meant for people, so the doorway is not very high!  Donnabella’s ears touch the top of the doorway quite easily, and she is only 16.1hh, but there are some crazy people who have taller horses and just lean right forward and somehow just fit under the doorway!  We look around and just think this would never happen in Australia, we definately are better at following the rules!  

    Well anyway, its been a really fun show so far, there were competitons on all day today, and I managed to watch a few things.  We first watched a CDN Grand Prix, and it was interesting to see the nicest horse come last, because it had too many little mistakes.  Others that were not near as nice, with clean tests got really great scores.  Next we saw a junior rider class, there were 7 riders in each of the two rings and they just walked, trotted and cantered on the circle for the judges.  Out of the 14 competitors only 4 rode without fixed draw reins or side reins!  My favourite event of the day was the Indoor Cross Country.  They jumps were about 1.05m and it included 2 showjumps and 11 xc jumps, which is a lot to fit in an arena not much bigger than the size of a dressage arena, and was scored like a showjump round.  It looked great fun, I wish I had Talinga Cavalier here to gallop around the jumps!  Another great event was the jump and drive, where riders did a short showjump course then ran down and hopped on the back of a driving carriage and went through the cones. 

    Tomorrow is the first day of competition, and arena familiarisation is at 6-7am so we will be up very early to get another ride in the Indoor.  I’m guessing i’ll be on about 7pm tomorrow night, as the time draw has not be done yet.  For anyone wanting to watch the results, the link is http://www.escon-marketing.de/index.php?option=com_wrapper&view=wrapper&Itemid=1222 

    Thankyou everyone for your good luck wishes, i’ll let you know how everything goes tomorrow!

Megan :)

Main Arena Stables

Even the kid on the pony has to duck!

Kids competiting with Draw Reins!Donnabella after a ride

Stables

Arena Christmas DecorationsDonnabella after a ride

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To the Festhalle

    Donnabella and I arrived in Frankfurt today ready for the FEI World Cup Dressage Final for Young Riders.  I had a lesson with Arjen this morning before heading for Frankfurt at midday.  Donnabella and I travelled in the transport truck while Mum followed with Roger, who arrived just yesterday.  The truck driver did not speak much English so we had a bit of trouble finding the entrance, but we eventually found our way in.

    I rode Donnabella around the indoor, and I am very happy with how calm she was in there, hopefully she is the same when it is full of people.  She has settled in well and has made friends with her neighbours, Bentley (USA horse) and Veritas (NZ horse).  It is suprisingly warm in the stable area, and the Indoor is quite hot!

    Tomorrow afternoon is the trot up, and the competition starts on Thursday!  Will post so more pictures tomorrow.

Megan :)

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Training in Belgium

    For the past 10 days I have been training with Dutch Olympic Rider, Arjen Teeuwissen, in Belgium.  We arrived here in the snow on Wednesday 2nd December and finally we could relax and enjoy the trip which had been quite stressful up until now.   The stables are amazing and everyone has been very welcoming.  Mum and I live above the stables, which we love as it means no going out in the freezing cold.  Just behind Donnabella’s stable is their own horse shop, Royal Horse Outlet, which is full of Kingland and GPA gear at much cheaper prices!  There is so many beautiful things in the shop and i’m sure we will need another suitcase to get home! 

    I have been able to have a lesson with Arjen almost everyday and Donnabella is improving so much.  I have been learning heaps and i’m really happy with how she is going.  Donnabella is very happy here, she loves all the food she gets and has made friends with a chocolate labrador, Hillary.  It has been warming up over the last few days and the snow that we arrived in has now all melted.  So today I could have my lesson outside, in a proper size arena, where I could run through my test.  After my lesson I rode Donnabella around the property and I think she was very suprised to see the sky again!

  Its not long until to competiton now, Sunday she will have the day off, then Monday a lesson, Tuesday morning one last lesson before we head off to Frankfurt in the afternoon.  The competition will begin on Wednesday with the Trot up, then Thursday the PSG, Friday the Individual test and Saturday or Sunday the Freestyle!  It’s going to be a big week ahead, i’ll keep everyone updated.

Megan  :)

                    Stable Entrance                                                The Castle and Frozen Lake

           Donnabella and the Castle                                                 Going for a walk

            Hillary watching Donnabella                                           Riding outside

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Donnabella’s Trip

    Thanks to Simon Kale I have some wonderful pictures of Donnabella’s trip to Europe.  It wasn’t the best trip, being delayed 24 hrs and a much longer than expected stop in Singapore, but she is safely here now.  Simon tells me that she travelled brilliantly but 36 hrs in a box can’t have been much fun.  8 hrs of which were spent parked in a shed in Singapore, it was quite hot and thankfully the IRT groom Glen found some big fans to keep the horses cool and happy.

               Getting the Box ready                                               Boarding the Plane

                      Donnabella and Simon                                                 In the Air

                       Fans in Singapore                                                Back on the Plane

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