C’est la vie – Normandie… Why reverse parking at the World Equestrian Games is important

At least, the second day at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Caen started off better than the first: We have had coffee. An American colleague shouted with joy „Yes“ when she had her first cup. It can be so easy to please people. At this place I want to thank Edith who makes every effort to provide for comfortable conditions for us.

And you really cannot complain about everybody here. The owner of the hotel I live in is really an amiable and very attentive person (who – by the way – speaks English which may happen as well). When I told her yesterday in the evening that nearly nothing worked out that day and we even hadn’t got get any coffee, she offered me to place a key underneath the door of the breakfast room which would make it possible for me to enter it before the official breakfast starts (we always have to get up early in order to catch our shuttle bus). She would prepare a coffee for me there so that I would have a coffee to go in the morning. Merci! By the way she also told me that the voluntary assistants have been given instructions for one year. She could not grasp that these people often were not able to provide for any information. I really wonder: What have they been told for one year? Saying “Bonjour” to people? This is really the only thing which everybody seems to be able to say…

Yesterday the German Eventing Riders jumped in at the press office at well. They were dripping wet. They had left the umbrellas in Le Pin. The rain came right in time for them because Peter Thomsen told us that they considered the warm-up arena for the horses not ideal good but rather a little bit dry and deep. ”This is just being organized now”, said Dirk Schrade with a smile. Today the eventing riders will be able to see the track for the first time. Beforehand they could only see a few fences from far away. These, however, look very nice according to Peter Thomsen.

The mobile homes some people have to live in (the majority of the officials of the eventing riders) have not really made a good impression so far. “This is a very special hotel for riders”, says Andreas Ostholt with a smile. There are three beds on about two square meters in every mobile home. In any case there is only enough room for one person according to Hans Melzer, the federal coach, because people still have to place their luggage somewhere. The place to put it are the remaining beds. And when it is about going to the rest room? “ Here you have to do reverse parking”, says Melzer. “Otherwise this is not possible.“

People seem to be similarly amused about breakfast in the provision tent. There is a plastic tray with a baguette and a paper cup of coffee on it. That’s it. “There are no plates“, says Michael Jung. Jung, however, has taken measures as people have expected him to do. As there is no restaurant in Le Pin and you are more or less in the middle of nowhere, he has brought along food from home. Pasta and similar stuff. Today men do the kitchen on their own.

The Eventers were in Caen to visit the jumping stadium there. They also wanted to see Kristina Sprehe’s ride with Desperados. And yet they nearly missed it as the shuttle service dropped them off 20 minutes away from the stadium at the Reiners. Ingrid Klimke says: ”When we noticed that we quickly jumped into another bus and arrived just in time when Kristina rode into the stadium.“ And yet some of the eventing riders still went to the reiners and arrived just at the moment when it was Grischa Ludwig’s turn. Ingrid Klimke and Sandra Auffarth waved around with their flags and applauded in the crowded hall before leaving for Le Pin again in the evening.

Sandra Auffarth bei den Reinern (zum Finden: erste rote Jacke ganz unten)

Sandra Auffarth at the Reining competition (in the red jacket, first row next to Breido Graf zu Rantzau)

Hans Melzer had to do an extra tour. Chris Bartle, his right hand, landed in Caen only in the afternoon. However, he could neither catch a shuttle nor a taxi there. That’s why it was up to Melzer to pick him up.

Transport is also a topic for the final day of the eventing riders. On Sunday a police crew is going to accompany the riders in two blocks from Le Pin to Caen to make sure there will be no incidents before the final jumping. “This is very short-time“, says Michael Jung. “At 7.00 am there will be the vet-check in Le Pin and at 3.00 am the jumping in Caen starts. I don’t understand myself why we won’t have the vet-check in Caen. This would make it possible for us to travel there Saturday in the evening or at least early in the morning at 5.00am. Maybe they will change the agenda again in the course of the week.” In every case the defending champion says that Rocana is in perfect shape. And although his top horse Sam is not going to start Jung doesn’t deny that he might win a medal with his second horse ( Hans Melzer: ”Rocana is not only a compromise. She is more than a substitute”): ”I want to win a medal in the individual and in the team.“ These are clear words. You have the right to define your goals in such a way!

And yet we are still waiting for the team nomination. The federal coach made clear that the six couples were very close to each other. “We still have to calculate a little and have to consider the weather and the cross-country”, that’s what he says. They were lucky to have “embarrass de richesses“. When Melzer said: “I don’t believe that our team will be weaker without Sam“, he was immediately asked if his meant that Michi would be in the team for sure. Melzer answered smiling: ”I didn’t want to express that. Michi couldn’t have been on the team with Sam either. We could only have counted on him to defend his title.” We see, we see…

But today it is all about the decision in the dressage. And even today Klaus Roeser, Chef d’Equipe, could make his contribution to the strange French laxity: The grounds of the starting places for the horses were only arranged for at 7.20 am. At 8.00 am the first start was scheduled. This provoked an angry face again.

This also applied to us and the situation in the Mixed Zone. On the second day we were asked in an even more unfriendly way to go directly into the grey catacombs. We were not allowed to stay where we had been waiting before. Why not? We stand behind the fence. There is no danger by horses, no danger at all. Madeleine Winter-Schulze also shoke her head because she couldn’t believe it. “Please, leave and have a nice day”, shouted the marshal in English. “You, too”, added Madeleine Winter-Schulze. Bonjour!