2017 will go down in history, as the year I made the Pilgrimage. The year I journeyed to the land of fast cars and glorious horses, the year, I went to GERMANY. My long suffering friend (LSF) and I touched down at Dusseldorf Airport after a gruelling +++ hours in Qantas Economy Class. Me; “Errmerrgerrd, we’re in GERMANY!” LSF; “Yep.” Me; “What side of the road to they drive on?” LSF; “The other side.” Me; “Errmerrgerrd, doesn’t everyone drive really fast over here?”
First take home; I needn’t have worried so much, because, as it turns out, Friday afternoon traffic is Friday afternoon traffic, EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD.
So we trundled along, slowly, VERY SLOWLY, every once in a while being overtaken, by people on bicycles, riding without helmets and smoking cigarettes. Second take home; Everyone in Germany is LIVING THEIR BEST LIFE. More on that later.
Eventually we arrived, delirious with exhaustion at Hotel Klosterpforte in Marienfeld. We awoke on Saturday, much refreshed, to crisp air, warm sunshine and the promise of things to come. Wanting to do my part, I offered to drive us to the Bundeschampionate and I am proud to report that I got us there, after only ending up on the wrong side of the road with the windscreen wipers going ONCE.
Upon arrival, we joined the steady flow of people making their way into the grounds of the German National Federation. The showgrounds felt steeped in history, a collection of green and white stable blocks surrounded by forest. The atmosphere felt almost jubilant, crowds of people gathered around arenas filled with horses, as far as the eye could see. The trade village stretched into the distance, with rows and rows of saddlery stalls punctuated by vendors selling hot, sugary nuts.
We made our way through the throngs of people, occasionally spying the odd famous person. Oh hey Isobel Werth. Well hello there, Ingrid Klimke. Then, errmerrgerred, is that Helen Langehanenberg? It wasn’t until after I looked and looked for the VET section without success, that I realised I truly was in another universe. You see, all of the arena seating is on a first come, first served basis. Third take home; The only way to get a good seat for the six-year old final at the Bundeschampionate, is to join the TIDAL WAVE of people making their way to the arena.
Then, just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, this happened;
It was with unashamed delight, that I observed a truly wonderful German tradition that should be adopted here as a matter of the utmost urgency. Upon exiting the arena after riding their test in the finals, each rider was offered a glass of champagne from a silver tray, by a man wearing a very dapper suit. The rider sat atop their horse and skolled the champagne so, basically, GERMANS LIVING THEIR BEST LIVES.
The fun didn’t end there. Behold, my fourth, fifth and sixth take homes from the Bundeschampionate;
Fourth take home; The horses are DIVINE and the judges are RUTHLESS. If you told me it scored solid 7’s at the Bundes, I would just put it on a plane and fly it back to STRAYA. Sight unseen. STAT.
Fifth take home; The riders are v-v-good, but walk pirouettes are still hard, even in Germany. Just quietly, this one made me feel much better.
Sixth take home; Florestan is the dam sire of EVERYTHING.
P.S. Technically, this happened in the Netherlands so, I guess TECHNICALLY this is the Dutch living their best lives, but ANYHOODLE, I will leave you with it regardless. A DOG IN PRADA.
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