Julia Hargreaves: Jan/Feb
January 2012 News (A)
I have finally made it back to Valkenswaard... After just a couple dramas, which I didn't want to blog about, but now that I'm not an illegal immigrant, here I am!
I flew out of Amsterdam last year a couple of days before Christmas. I was in pretty bad shape after being groomless for a couple months and then conveniently getting a throat infection and a chest infection at the same time... I was pretty depressed to be honest, it was time to get home. At the airport I was taken in for questioning at the passport check. (I went over without a visa, you are only allowed to stay in Europe for 90 days at a time without one... I stayed 7 months. Who knew!
Truthfully I didn't think I was doing the wrong thing as I was moving around a lot to do shows in different countries) So after about an hour of interrogation I looked at the time and saw that I was probably going to miss my flight. They had just told me that I won't be allowed back into Europe for 3-6 months (this did NOT really sit well with me) so I tried to make light of the situation, you know, soften the mood by making a few light-hearted comments about staying on..... within 5 minutes I was being escorted to the plane to make sure I did leave the country. I tell you, some Europeans just don't have a sense of humour.
Something I always love about coming home is the final 20 minutes of the flight when you go over Sydney Harbour.. It really is special. The rest of the journey was pretty tough, I was having serious trouble breathing amongst other things. Luckily I was greeted by my wonderful parents, best friend Jamie Winning and two pretty cool kids, Georgie Harvey and Suzie Willis who even made a welcome home sign!
Before I flew home I did a final show in La Coruna, Spain. This was a 5***** show and I managed to score the a wild card. It was in a beautiful setting, with an indoor that overlooked the ocean! I was still pretty sick, but the ponies looked after me extremely well. Both Paris and Elton jumped the 1.45 classes, both clear most days, just one or two rails throughout the show. Vedor started twice. Clear the first day and 2 down in the 1.55 winning round class. This may not sound very good, but I was very happy with him considering we hadn't been going that great previously... And I was pretty nervous I must say!
Oh yeah, almost forgot, finally got a groom a few days before we headed to Spain... John Dickson was his name. English. He was great! Until he left in the middle of the night 2 days after I arrived in Sydney..I had prepaid him cash for a month, figure that one out! Huge thank you to Stal Tops, Jake, Paul and Charline Remy in particular for getting me out of trouble there! All those people looked after my horses at some point during the month I was away. I was very lucky. I have brought Anna Dalton back with me. Blast from the past, Anna groomed for me in the 2005-2006 time. It's very nice having someone with me I know and can trust.
I was home for just under a month, long story short, I was incredibly lucky with the Netherlands consulate who approved my visa 2 weeks after I applied for it, no questions asked. Followed by a smooth sail back into Europe... Which is FREEZING by the way. But luckily I have some of the greatest sponsors ever keeping me warm, thanks KINGSLAND! My other sponsors CopRice also provided me with great team clothing, and feed. and NatureVet loaded me down with more supplements for the horses.
While I was in Sydney the Elite Squad and Shadow Team for London was announced, and yes, I’m on it! Yay! There are several shows to get to before the final selection trials in May, so it’s back to work with a vengeance. Fortunately the horses look fit and well, and Vedor has benefited hugely from the services of his new farrier. Not a lot to complain about really! We have a small national show in a couple weeks, followed by a 3*** show in Germany. I will keep you posted (: bye for now... Julia
January 2012 News (B)
Well, after that mild first week back in Valkenswaard, winter really arrived. It’s been bitter ever since, with lots of snow and temps as low as -16C. It hasn’t been above zero at all. Thank heavens for the heated facilities at Stal Tops. And Anna. She is great with the horses and seems to be coping with the cold pretty well too. She’s also become my official photographer, and has taken some lovely shots around Stal Tops.
We're off to our first show this weekend. The National Show in Belgium and all the horses will be getting a start for the first time in almost two months. Next weekend we're off to Neumünster in Germany, the final indoor show. Yay! Then we're at home in Holland for two weeks then a month away in France with a show just about every weekend in March. I hope it's warmer by then. All the horses have been going well at home so we’re looking forward to getting them out there jumping.
In other exciting news, my dog Lily is arriving in Amsterdam next week! Not sure she’ll think it’s such a great idea when she sees her first snow ...
all the best
February 2012 News
So things seem to be falling into place this year so far (touch wood). Vedor feels great, back to his normal self. Perhaps even better. After the national show in Belgium we headed to a CSI3* show in Neumunster, Germany. I was pretty nervous about going there. I'd heard that they built big and tough and that the ring was not so big... plus it was full of Germans, (not many International riders) who are also a pretty intimidating breed! Luckily I have Anna, who has been a fantastic addition to the team. The horses love her, and she really knows how to keep me cool and calm when I get stressed! All in all Neumunster was a success. I went with Paris and Vedor, who were both excellent. Paris had only one class, a 1.45 speed class, where he jumped clear, strangely enough I didn't win, weird... me being the speed demon that I am. Vedor was in the 1.45 the first day with 2 time faults, jumped super... second day in the 1.50, had a terrible warm up as we got our times a bit confused. I was 10th to go and I only got on when number 5 was in the ring. Had 1 down and again some time, but the rail was my fault, too close. The performance was good enough to have us qualify for the 1.55 Grand Prix. I was pretty nervous about this class, but after walking it I felt quietly confident that I would get around, which I did with only 1 time fault. I could not have been happier with him, it was big and tough and he was fantastic!
Another addition to the team arrived on the 16th. My 7yo canine side-kick, Lilly. I picked her up from Amsterdam airport when I was en route for the show in Germany. Haven't been so excited about picking someone up from the airport in a very long time!! Dogs are pretty amazing really, she would have spent the previous 24 hours having no idea what was going on, pretty scared and feeling like she'd been dumped basically, then still be crazy excited when she saw me! I know for sure if I was in her position, my reaction would have been slightly different. I would not be so forgiving. She has taken to the European lifestyle incredibly well. Starting with walking into a hotel on a leash rather than stuffed into a bag! Followed by joining us for dinner and being served a silver bowl of water when I was given my glass of wine. Yup... I think she could get quite used to this (:
This weekend I am in Sweden spectating. Learning some things from the big guys. You really do get a lot out of watching here! I'm lucky to have Edwina with me the majority of the time so I can annoy her with questions. She has a lot of knowledge, and is very generous with offering her help and guidance.
Plan for the next few weeks. I am at shows in Germany the next two weekends. Then off to France (outdoors! yay!!) for two weeknds. Hopefully its a successful month... I will let you know.