Blondes on Tour


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Inevitably Le Lion gave up the good fight and abandoned during Friday afternoon dressage.  Chris Burton’s groom was fairly unimpressed with the timing as she had just sewn the last plait into his beautifully turned out horse when news filtered through to the stables.  We had been wondering what toll the cross country might take on the lovely young horses

that were there, but then the river burst its banks and with around a quarter of the track literally under water there was no chance of running.

Whilst the Irish packed up and shipped out we kiwis did the sensible thing and opened a huge bottle of Rose and hunkered down for the afternoon.  Toddy  went paddling in the water jumps (which were now joined together!) and we looked at the sale horses but luckily we were soberish enough not to make a rash decision and return with any extras.

So now it’s the long trek home and the 2012 season has nearly drawn to a close with the most expensive dressage tests ever ridden at Le Lion.  The guys heading on down to Pau were hoping that another 6 hours South might bring them some sunshine and at the very least the chance to go cross country.  Le Lion did the best they could but even they could not do what King Canute believed he could do all those centuries ago and they have offered a refund of entry fees which is a nice gesture that does not happen on our side of the Channel!

Friday Update..

Key-Rider Jonelle Richards and Faerie Dianimo on their way to scoring a 55 in the 7 year old class.

And its still raining. Horses and riders go into the main arena looking like they have been hunting for half a day. The grass warm up is deteriorating by the hour despite the organisers best efforts with shovels and sand. They have moved the main arena at least three times already but still the squelching sound of slurpy going is all you can hear. Everyone is wet and muddy and most of the horses have stopped spooking at the umbrellas as it has become the norm.

On the plus side the lovely old stables are a godsend… would be impossible to deal with this weather in wooden temporary stables. The lorry park is faring less well and getting out is going to be interesting. Mark Todd was one of the last to arrive and he did not park as such, he simply drove in and sank to a halt.

There is much muttering amongst the riders about whether they really can run tomorrow. There is standing water in front of some of the fences and bearing in mind that this is a Championship with the best young horses in Europe present no one wants to risk injury or a crashing loss of confidence at this stage in their careers.

In the middle of the night there was a tremendous thunderstorm and as lightning lit up the living of the lorry and the rain drummed mercilessly on the roof I did spare a thought for some neighbours in a tent. The showers have mud and grit inside them and I am very envious of those smart people that had the forethought to bring flip flops in their washbags. Last year Ugg boots ruled the roost, now its jandals we long for!

Jonelle Richards and Faerie Dianimo (Maggie May) went late yesterday afternoon and the beautiful grey Princess was not impressed with the mud and rain and resented getting her painted toes stuck on the centre line for a rather average score of 55. She was also decidedly sniffy about Ingrid Klimke’s lovely horse who had just done a rather stunning 33 and would have given it a good kick had she been allowed a little closer.

Mark Todd rode early this morning on NZB Port Royal (Buddy) and emerged from the fog into the main arena and apart from a slight loss of balance in the first counter canter went well for 51 and into the top ten at this stage. However its beginning to look as though the dressage scores are going to become increasingly irrelevant as conditions continue to deteriorate.

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Thursday: Swimming at Le Lion.

Last year at Le Lion D’ Angers we nearly froze to death but had the bonus of sunshine at lunchtime and dry ground.  This year we are in danger of drowning.  Even in France the summer of 2012 continues to haunt us and with more rain forecast its going to be tough out there on Saturday’s cross country.

Our proposed journey plans took a hit on Monday when we discovered that the Portsmouth Caen ferries were not taking horses.  Nothing to do but head for Dover at the unsociable hour of 12.30am and were assured on arrival at 3.30am we would not be sailing until at least 10am.  After some assurances by Jonelle and some batting of blonde eyelashes we managed to leave on the 5.30am which seemed a good thing until we exited the harbour in a force 7 gale.  Cue dreams of Titanic.


‘Spider on the Racecourse’ – The penultimate cross country fence for both the 6 and 7 year olds this year.

Having arrived in the land of cheese we promptly headed for Brussels .  We performed a dodgy turn around with at least one illegal manoeuvre and searched for a map.  Said map then turned out to be issued in 2004, had a scale of about 200 miles to an inch and best of all had the all important page 10 missing.  Page 10 actually contained the layout for the first three hours of the journey to Rouen.  In true kiwi style we could not bear to part with any Euros for a new map so with a combination of phones, i pads , pure luck and the odd wrong lane at the tolls we made it to Le Lion.

I don’t think anyone has ever seen Le Lion so wet.  This is a Championship for the 6 and 7 year olds and if it does not stop raining then it is going to be a gruelling slog for these rising stars.  They are already sanding the dressage arena after the first batch of six year olds have gone this morning and its hats and boots all round at this stage!

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Jacky will be sending us regular updates throughout the week. You can follow her on twitter @jacks_green or subscribe to her blog posts through ‘The flow’ by entering your email into the box in the right hand column of this page.


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