Luhmuhlen CIC 3
Photo credit: Libby Law Photography for Eventful Life.
Sammi had a Friday morning dressage with Hunter Valley ( Gizmo) which she executed with her usual professionalism whilst Ed and I did battle with the hire car people at Hamburg airport. Since we had all left our beds way before 4am and had been squashed like sardines in a tin on a very full flight out from London and had walked circa 100 miles around the airport to get to the hire place none of us were particularly chatty. Ed still managed to whizz off in his with NZ team farrier Andrew Nickalls whilst I got held up behind the NZ sailing team who seemed to be having a credit card crisis and despite them repeatedly telling the lady behind the desk that it was currently 3am in NZ she equally repeatedly told them they "must phone their office". Blissfully unaware of all of this at the venue were Team Birch who had managed to impress the judges in Germany with an Australian TB which is not that easy! A score of 28 was good enough for top 15 and well in touch.
Saturday was cross country day.. this is also the German Championships so even though it is a CIC they showjump last. Giz was pretty unimpressed that all the 4 star horses got to go before him and he hung out in the morning looking grumpy which is actually his forte in the stable at most times. Finally it was his turn and then he turned all pro and began to look much more interested in the proceedings. Shane Rose was on hand in the warm up and he was, as always, invaluable with his advice which was much appreciated. As Charlie Birch danced on Ed's knee in the tent and did his utmost best to block his view of the TV we watched Giz and Sammi storm around the track looking every bit as classy as they have always done and they finished foot perfect clear for just 3.6 over time which was fast. Only three riders made time all day out of the 55 that started so that was good enough to elevate Sammi up to 8th spot.
I haven't actually seen Ed run before but when I sent him a message at the end of the day to say we were heading up to the hospitality for a free beer he broke into what can only be described as a lope and flung himself into the boot of the car. That is one of the lovely things about Luhmuhlen.. the hospitality is so generous and they ran a free bar all day for riders and their connections. It really is appreciated!
Sunday dawned bright ans sunny and while the other 3 star horses enjoyed a lie in as the 4 star were jogging just after 8am Gizmo yet again sulked as it was not all about him. He jogged some time later and brightened up at the prospect of some showjumping as he may well have reasoned that after the whopping 1m 35 in Lier it could not possibly be as hard! Sammi was also thinking along those lines which just showed how valuable last weekend was although she tends to forget that she is actually one of the best SJ jockeys on the circuit!
True to form they jumped an immaculate clear in time over the poles in the buzzy main arena and moved up a couple more places for 6th. In a German dominated CIC 3 that is no mean feat and there were some very experienced horses ahead of them like Bettina Hoy's Designer and Ingrid Klimke's Hale Bob. It was a really great result and exactly what Sammi had hoped to achieve with her 10 day trip away from home.
For his part Gizmo has decided that prize givings are now really really exciting and he behaved pretty badly which he thought was great fun. This is where Gizmo, like a true Aussie boy, never really thinks thinks through as the result is he will rarely get to be ridden in one again and will be left sulking in the stables whilst Sammi comandeers some lowly 20 faulter to ride instead.
Jo had been really organised all weekend and was as keen as I was to get on the road and was amazingly prepared. A somewhat surprised Gizmo found himself being loaded less than half an hour after the prize giving and Team Birch exited the site with plenty of trucks still behind us. In fairness some of them possibly overtook us as we promptly got lost and entertained some local pub goers in a village with more than one trip past them. I had taken one look at 3 people and a toddler in the back and put my self firmly in the driving seat and by this time Ed had three phones on google maps and we were about to throw the truck sat nav out the window so it could never be heard saying " Where possible, turn around" for the 300th time in 10 minutes and we were finally on the motorway. Millie, who had been looking after Charlie on this trip, then put herself in what appeared to be a position straight from some advanced yoga book and entertained us with stories from her childhood. Since this appeared to be not dissimilar to The Little House on the Prairie it was actually very interesting.
Ed turns out to be a whizz at navigating which was very helpful. He is also fairly right wing in his political views which made for some interesting conversation as we traversed Germany, Holland, Belgium and France and finally rocked up some 10 hours later at Calais. ( That's what happens when you go all politically correct and run with a tacho and a limiter). He then managed to offend the rather dour lady in charge of our ferry options within 2 minutes of chat so we found ourselves with a 2 hour wait which was a bit harsh to say the least!
Finally we made it back to Blighty and Ed had this time decided he would take the driving seat. Having cut up a couple of lorries coming out of the docks, abused a driver who then cut him up in an arctic and smirked at anyone he could overtake on the hill out of Dover ( not many when you have a limiter, it turned out to be a more humiliating version of "after you" at that point) we then hit traffic and he turned into Puff the Magic Dragon as he sighed heavily every 30 seconds at the car park that was the M26 at 6.30 am. Quite soon after that he did some emergency braking ( which in itself is fairly impressive when you are averaging 10mph anyway) and as Sammi's tea shot out of her hand and over his phone and he claimed it wasn't his fault I decided to swap back with him as it was clear he was now both tired and delusional....
It was fun, Sammi was and is a superstar, Jo was amazing and Millie probably knocked 'nanny' off her list of potential full time jobs. I don't know about anyone else but I have more admiration for Sammi and Gizmo than ever as that is one cracking jockey, a superstar horse and one hell of a journey they have endured this spring. They wont say it but I will... next stop Aachen then rock on WEG.