A Groom’s Experience at Aachen

Thursday, July 2, 2009
Posted by Christy

Young Dressage rider, trainer, and competitor Meaghan Byrne has moved to Vechta, Germany to work for international rider and competitor Catherine Haddad. Byrne has sharing her experiences with DressageDaily. Please continue to stay tuned in as Meaghan tells of her time at Aachen.

Day 1- Aachen - We Have Arrived

With the horses settled, the equipment unpacked, and the American flag hung high the US riders prepare for one of the most prestigious competitions in the world, CHIO Aachen.
Photo: Meghan Byrne and DressageDaily's Mary Phelps at Aachen

Catherine and I are stabled with Steffen Peters and Ravel.  We arrived shortly after 4pm this afternoon. I settled Cadillac into his stall and unpacked. Cadillac is stabled across the aisle from his father, Solos Carex! We then spent some time setting up USA banners, curtains, blankets and flags. There is no question when walking past our stalls which nation we proudly represent.

Catherine and I had to check in with the show office to receive our accreditations. I received a rather large lanyard with an official passport photo, which I had to provide prior to arriving on the grounds. The lanyard states where on the show grounds I can go. Without this I would be lost, and if I do happen to lose it, its 50 Euro to replace!

I am very lucky to be driving a smaller lorry so that I was able to find a very convenient parking spot right next to the stable. There are so many huge lorries that are parked like sardines. Several of them have living quarters and room enough for 6 or 7 horses. There are electricity hook ups everywhere making the parking lot look like a spider web of wires.

I made Cadillac ready for Catherine to ride. She walked around the show facility letting him see the sights. There are two regulation size warm-up arenas just in front of the gigantic stadium. There are rows upon rows of stadium seating surrounding a beautifully decorated arena with flowers, patches of green grass and several banners with the lead sponsors, some of which include Mercedes, Meggle, PHILLIPS, Duetsche Bank, and Lindtt Chocolates.

Tomorrow brings the vet check and open schooling for all riders. Much more to come….

Day 2- Aachen

Today the main arena was opened from 8am-10am for all horses to school. So Catherine rode early in the day before the heat set in. After the morning schooling session I prepared Cadillac for the jog. I braided his mane (which I do with elastics, the easiest way I think), put some baby powder on his four white socks, and oiled his hooves. Both Cadillac and Ravel were adorned with USA Team gear. Since it has been so hot here we opted for the mesh flysheets. Both horses passed the jog with flying colors.

The rest of the afternoon was left for sightseeing. Catherine and I took one of the Mercedes sponsored shuttles into downtown Aachen. Downtown is filled with unique novelty shops, chic fashion boutiques, and delectable bakeries. The entire landscape of downtown is settled on a hillside, which adds character to the already warm town. In the center there is an enormous century old church. Inside the church the walls and ceiling are designed with colorful mosaic tiles mixed with gold leafing. Having the opportunity to see the surrounding cities in which these incredible competitions are held is such a privilege.

In the afternoon, after it had cooled off, I took Cadillac out for a walk and grazed him for a while. In the evenings there is always something fun to do. There is either Dressage or Jumping to watch and usually the grooms get together and have a cookout around the lorries. This environment is such a great way to meet people from all over the world. It is fun to talk to other grooms and find out how their stables are run and what different things they do to manage their top horses. I certainly learn a lot by talking to the seasoned grooms, who have been with their riders for several years.

Tomorrow is the first day of competition for the Dressage riders. The Prix St. George starts in the morning followed by the first half of the CHIO Grand Prix. Catherine will be riding in the second group of riders which doesn’t start until Thursday. So tomorrow will be a schooling day and allow plenty of time to watch some of the best riders in the world. More to come…

Thank you for reading! If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me: bmeaghan@gmail.com