It was a dream week at Aachen CHIO, for those who joined us on our first HorsesDaily Aachen tour. During our farewell dinner Sunday evening, at our fairy tale accommodations at the Kasteel Ter Worm in the neighboring town of Heerlen, Netherlands, Astrid Appels toasted us with a very special tribute. “The first horse show I did for Mary (Phelps) and JJ. (Hathaway) in 1998 was at Young Riders in Colorado. I stayed in a camper. Now we are here in 2005, because of them, in a castle!” It was a perfect ending to a perfect week, where we could finally relax, as all went well and everyone was happy and so grateful we were able to arrange for such a special place at a special event.
Everyone got the chance to sign the banners we made for each member of our US Dressage Team. The banners were held high while waving American flags, in the dressage arena for each member of our team before and after they rode.
No matter how many times our elite competitors ride in Europe, they are always very appreciative knowing they have a strong American contingent to root them on. We are going to send the banners to each team member as a gift, with the special messages from all in our group.
Thursday Dinner Party Honors US Dressage Team
Thursday night’s dinner party featured a four course dinner with a different wine with each course. Special guests included two members of the Aachen USA Bronze Medal Dressage Team, George and Roberta Williams who joined their owners and castle guests Chuck and Joanne Smith. Also joining us were Steffan and Sharon Peters and the owners of Steffen’s highest scoring US horse Laurie and Steve Browning. It was all on camera, filmed by the Horse TV Film Crew Melvin Cox and Shabbir Husain, who included our visit in their Aachen coverage for the soon to be launched Horse TV Channel. The dinner for the team members was generously underwritten by Carol Cohen, of Two Swans Farm in Wellington. Thank you Carol, Dressage in America is truly blessed to have you in our corner.
Marvin and Deborah Hausman, brought their Pinot Noir wine from their Quailhurst Vineyards in Sherwood Oregon, enough cases to provide at least a bottle for each table, serving 55 guests. Their jumper stallion European Championships Bronze Medal winner, Nassau, performed brilliantly all week for the Netherlands with Jerome Dubbledam. John Zopatti commented there should be a disclaimer on each bottle, as the brilliantly smooth delicious wine does have a way of sneaking up on you, but with no hangover in the morning! Since no one had to drive home, just stumble to their suites, it was an ideal opportunity to indulge.
The greatest compliment to the tour, and our time together was announced by Linda Stallings. Linda and her husband Fred are longtime employees of Delta Airlines and travel the world on a weekly basis.
“Fred and I have traveled all over the world, and this has truly been the most wonderful time and visit we have had. The Castle is fantastic, and we are so grateful to Mary and JJ for putting this all together!”
The Finest Accommodations for a Fabulous Group
What began with a simple posting on our website in November of 2004, as a way for us to share our favorite spot near Aachen with friends, grew into a group who are a veritable Who’s Who for Dressage in America. The staff at the Kasteel Ter Worm, a Van der Valk Hotel property, was extremely accommodating. The meals were divine prepared by creative chefs who have a joy for their work. Our surroundings peaceful and beautiful, a welcome respite from the huge crowds of the number one horse show in the world. It was a lot of work, but like most things which are meant to be, it all came together easily considering the complexities of such an undertaking.
All the guests were seasoned Euro travelers, with their own vehicles, and ability to find their way around. New friendships were made, and we all shared a special bond by being a part of an experience enhanced by the magical surroundings of the newly renovated yet ancient building. Our intern and navigator Margaret Heroy helped us stay on track, by organizing images each day, uploading and databasing the photos for phelsphotos.com.
She brought new visitors to the website, her friends and family, those who checked in daily. Like a princess in the tower, her room overlooked the courtyard, and she was able to know when it was time to leave by looking out her window.
Our dear Aachen friends Marion Heinrichsen and Franz Thelen who guided us through a fascinating tour of the old city of Aachen on Wednesday, joined us in the stands, and Marion at our Sunday party, bringing an added touch of all that is so special about a city which was founded by a Charlemagne’s horse centuries ago.
Closing Ceremonies Capture the Magic of Aachen CHIO
For the show jumping Grand Prix and closing ceremonies, several guests had tickets in the new stadium, the pride and joy of the Aachen organizers as they prepare for next year’s 2006 WEG. John, Janet and Jackie Paxton with Margaret Heroy and Janice LaPorte in the new Aachen Grandstand during closing ceremonies with our American flags and rider banners.
When during the closing ceremonies, the Americans did not have a white hanky, those seated around them made sure to find one for them so they could all join the crowd of 75,000 people giving the “Aachen Wave” a farewell to the nations. The Germans gave us hankies, and we gave them our American flags. There is no politics at Aachen when it comes to European perceptions of America. They were gracious and truely happy for our USA successes there, and the ultimate hosts.
Almost every American who competed at Aachen participated in the closing ceremonies, a thrill of a lifetime even for the most seasoned international competitor.
Our US Showjumping team who won the Nation’s Cup on Friday was all there, as well as Steffen Peters, Leslie Morse, and George Williams, from our dressage team who won the Bronze Medal in the team competition.
Brilliant Conditions for Photographing The Greatest Horses In The World
But the best treat as a photographer and member of the international press (IAEJ – International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists) was the weather. Except for one obligatory rainy day, the sun was shining and conditions ideal.
We took brilliant photos, at high speeds, with awesome color and clarity, giving us the stock we need leading up to next year’s 2007 WEG. It was the perfect dress rehearsal for next year’s 2006 World Equestrian Games.
We are not planning a trip for 2006, but have already had a meeting with the staff of the Kasteel Ter Worm for Aachen CHIO 2007 (dates yet to be announced). We can only secure a limited amount of rooms, which must be reserved exclusively through us next time.
We will be offering first dibs to our 05 group, so stay tuned as we will be announcing any availability when we know ourselves. Meanwhile you can join us virtually, and visit our photo collection for 2005 at PhelpsPhotos.com.
Auf Wiedersehn Aachen, we will be back again!