Behind the Scenes in Germany With the US Dressage Short Listed Riders for the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games

Photos by Craig Bernstein and Debbie McDonald

With less than 30 days to go before The Games begin, we have been getting updates from our groom to die for (and so much more!) Craig Bernstein. And that’s not all, we are lucky enough to be on Debbie McDonald’s e-list, getting frequent updates from her as well. So we are here to share, photos and tidbits of life in Germany before the action heats up.

Craig works for Tuny Page caring for Wild One, as well as helping the team manage packing and shipping of equipment. And lucky for us he’s bored! That’s because with only one horse to care for, and the short listed riders and horses arriving at different times, Craig with his ever handy camera and Blackberry is keeping us posted with pre-Game news fro Stahl Balkenhol.

Tuny arrived last week, and was off to visit her beloved Clare currently enjoying her life as a mother to be. Guenter Seidel and Aragon, Debbie McDonald and Brentina, Tuny Page and Wild One, and Heather Blitz and Arabella are settled into Stahl Balkenhol, hanging out training, trying to keep cool, and preparing for their first national show next weekend. Suzanne Dansby-Phelps and Cooper will be coming in later this week to train. Then it will be off to Verden, where they will be joined by Steffen Peters and Floriano. We hear Leslie Morse and her “boys” Tip Top and Kingston are in England working with Kyra Kyrkland. Leslie’s stallions have to go through a longer quarantine process than the others, something she is used to after something like 11 trips over the last few

Photos by Craig Bernstein and Debbie McDonald

Things Are Heating Up

In the meantime, the US Dressage riders all went to Muenster to watch an important competition for the German riders. At least we think that’s what they were doing. Debbie sent some photos from Muenster, all at the Beer Garden, so we are not really sure what the rest of the event was like.

There was also a visit from the US Dressage Foundation Young Rider grant recipients who accompanied by Sharon Poulin visited Stahl Balkenhol as part of their European trip.

Speaking of heating up, the heat wave has slammed into Europe, and most places don’t have air conditioning! And anyone who has trained in Germany in the summer knows about the mean German flies that will make Florida mosquitoes appear to be beloved pets.

Good thing Farnam has come out with a mega line of fly spray, which by the way they are donating a portion of the proceeds to support the USA WEG teams this year.

As USEF President David O’Connor said; “A bad summer of flies, is good news for our team.” Check out the Farnam website for details.

Debbie’s Updates from Germany

Photos by Craig Bernstein and Debbie McDonald

Debbie McDonald and Brentina - Updates from Germany

7-17 - Team Brentina arrived last Thursday (July 13) and without incident. I am always relieved when she gets here with Ruben safely. Ruben Palomera has been with me for five years.

He would die to protect that mare and the nicest person you could ever meet. I brought my new puppy Halle with me on the plane and she was a very good girl.

The weather is very warm and the horse flies are so bad and aggressive that we have to ride inside. But I am not complaining! It is better than freezing cold and rain!

It has been really nice for Bob and me because we are staying on the property in a little apartment and we have had a couple of lovely evenings with Judith, Klaus and Bellie (Balkenhol) in their garden. I can't wait for everyone else to get here.

I love getting up in the morning riding Brentina and then taking my cup of coffee to sit and watch all the other riders. It isn't often that you can watch this caliber of riders in one place.

Photos by Craig Bernstein and Debbie McDonald

Debbie McDonald and Brentina - Updates from Germany

7-23 - Just thought I would give you an update on what is going on here in Germany. The last couple of days we have been going to watch the German Championships in Muenster. There have been some very inspiring and interesting rides. It is always great to see these top riders and that they also deal with the same issues that we all do. We walked away with a feeling that we can compete with these horse and riders. The American horses by far and away can piaffe and passage with the best of them!

Today (Sunday) is the Freestyle and we will watch again. It is a quiet day at Balkenhol's and horses just hand walk on Sunday.

Yesterday we had a little rain which broke the heat in the house last night. Finally a night's sleep without waking up ringing wet! (There is no air-conditioning in most of Europe) I don't think it is going to last, already this morning it is warm. We are going to leave next Wednesday for the National show. Brentina and I will show on Saturday in the Grand Prix but the other riders, Guenter (Seidel), Tuny (Page), and Heather (Blitz) will show also in the Grand Prix Special. I am not sure if anyone else will be doing that show. We will then stay at that facility until we leave for Verden.

Klaus arranged some very nice permanent stalls that are big and the show is only one hour from Verden. It will be a much easier trip on the horses in the heat. We have all been enjoying the training and having fun evenings going out to dinner. These are the things that make being away from home for so long worth it.

It is hard being away from family and friends for but they are great in supporting what I do. With my new assistant Adrienne I have no worries that things are being done like I want them at the barn. I better go for now but will write you all again soon.
Stay safe!
Love - Debbie and Brentina

Related Links
Craig Bernstein, A Groom To Die For On the Scene at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games - Aachen