'm so into Germany, it hurts. Granted, on this particular trip, I've been to approximately two places: the CHIO Aachen show, and my hotel (a block away). But with the show being a world all of its own, it's still a constant adventure. Every class is edge of your seat amazing, the riding gets better and better, the people are incredible, and the food and shopping is a black hole of consumer heaven. Although I've spent my life at horse shows, this particular one is unlike anything I've ever experienced before.
"Although I've spent my life at horse shows, this particular one is unlike anything I've ever experienced before."
A few of my favorite moments thus far:
1. A rabbit ran across the dressage arena in the middle of a class, and no one bat an eye.
2. The Thai curry food stand man by the jumper arena now knows me by sight and waves animatedly when he spots me from across the grounds. His food is also so delicious I truly cannot stop eating it.
3. Every rider I interview practically oozes with passion, excitement, and a deep love for their horses. If you think elite equestrian athletes are egotistical, stuffy, or see their horses as machines - think again (at least in this case)
4. Immediately upon finishing their round in the main jumping stadium, someone feeds the exiting horse a sugar cube. This has happened every. single. time. Not a single horse has gone without a treat (as well as endless pats on the neck). It's endearing, adorable, and a wonderful show of the appreciation the riders, grooms, and owners have for these world-class equine athletes.
5. The Germans know how to party. The big feature classes tend to finish around 11 p.m., after which the party really cranks up. It starts in the Rider's Bar with a few celebratory Aperols and flutes of champagne, then migrates to the main bar by the jumping stadium, which blares European electro-pop that has patrons dancing and singing along karaoke-style until the wee hours of the morning.
Feature image by Shannon Brinkman.