Unexpected and exciting news!
Update on Adelaide Hill!
Well Adelaide is staying in the UK.... for now. Adelaide aka Mr Spooks was meant to start quarantine on the 1st October. Before he started quarantine I decided to have his tendon scanned so I had something to compare to after he arrived back in Australia. Before the scan I had told Becks Bennett who is currently looking after Adelaide that knowing Adelaide’s previous history, I would certainly not expect to see much improvement in his tendon as it was only 7 weeks between having the treatment and re-scanning.
Well Adelaide made a liar of me and poor Beck’s vet thought she was crazy as well, after he’d been given the whole story about slow healing and retirement. Adelaide has shown remarkable healing in a very short time period. Becks informed me that we should maybe give Adelaide another go. I thought about this long and hard and decided that he should come home to Australia as planned. But after making this decision I spoke with several vets and after seeing the scans myself I started to have reservations about my decision. So just a couple of hours before Adelaide was due to start quarantine we pulled the pin on his return to Australia.
So there were a few things that helped me change my decision. Firstly, Becks was happy to have Adelaide stay and do his rehab program. I had two vets; one that didn’t know him, and one that did know him, say with careful planning Adelaide might be able to have a comeback. With Adelaide already being in the UK I have the options of so many more events to choose from with better going and surfaces. If I bought Adelaide home to do the rehab I would never be able to afford to take him back to the UK.
The plan at this stage is 6 months rehab and fingers crossed Adelaide might have a chance at doing some select One Day Events and hopefully an ERM or two in 2019. We have however made the decision that Adelaide will no longer do long format events (CCI). If Adelaide can’t cope with any part of this plan he will immediately return to Australia. As I’ve promised one William Bates that he will get Adelaide eventually as a schoolmaster.
The one annoying thing is that Adelaide’s gear has arrived back in Australia and thanks to Rob Palm I’ll be able to collect my gear at Goulburn this weekend. Shame it will need to return to the UK. Oops.
I’m now back home in Wilberforce, New South Wales. My trip away was 8 weeks and one day in total; somehow I managed to survive the English weather with 8 weeks of sunshine and only one day of rain, yes I know this is unheard of. The UK conveniently just happened to put forward the best summer since 1976 during my stay. It has been a little bit of a shock to come home to the very cold and windy mornings, which consist of mini dust storms; yes you hear right- dust storms. It is winter here and we are having the worst drought ever in OZ. In my past trips to the UK over the last 25 years or so the weather has always been pretty gloomy, cold, with lots of rain and wind, this trip I discovered just how beautiful England can be. Everyday I would pinch myself that I was actually living the dream. Despite the less than ideal end to our campaign I wouldn’t change it one bit. We had a go and gave it our best. You never know what is going to happen in one’s life and over the last two years of my life I’ve experienced things I wish had never happened, I lost my self confidence in who I was and I lost something that I never thought was possible- the passion for my sport. So to be competing in the UK campaigning for the World Equestrian Games and representing Australia at Aachen with my amazing partner Adelaide Hill was truly an extremely surreal experience. This trip was frankly something that I had accepted long ago was not possible, and in time I had come to terms with that. Despite the highs and lows I still wouldn’t change it one bit because I took a chance, chased a dream but most importantly I have a story of a lifetime to share.
This trip would not have ever been possible without the support of so many people. Firstly, my family for not only the financial support but also the emotional support. My friends that have put up with my shit, when let’s to real they shouldn’t have. To my sponsors, supporters and followers for believing in me when even I didn’t. To Adelaide’s number one fan and breeder Beth Turner and her family. Alongside these amazing people the guidance and aid that I received from Equestrian Australia’s High Performance team, especially Gina Haddad and our Eventing selectors Georgia Widdup was invaluable. Sarah Neville who financially aided Adelaide’s flight over to the UK with the new travel bursary. To my management team, vets Agnes Banks Equine Clinic – Christine Smith, farrier - Mark Colbran, Muscleskeletol Vet - Nicola Finn and massage therapist- Sandy Stewart but also Nathan Anthony, Robin Bell, KP and Graham Potts, Equestrian Australia’s team of vets for making sure Adelaide was in the best shape of his life. To every single person that donated to either my fundraising pages, donated gifts to my online auction or purchased an online auction prize, this trip was only possible through your generosity. Sadly I do feel like in some way that Adelaide and I let everyone down despite everyone’s best efforts as it didn’t quite go to plan and we did not achieve what we set out to do however one thing I do know is that my amazing Adelaide gave everything he had and that’s all anyone can ask for. So thank you everyone.
While Adelaide was waiting for treatment on his tendon I decided to hire a car and go and visit some friends. This included lunch dates with Sarah Martin who was based at Catherine Burell’s property, currently home to Amanda Ross and Koko Popping Candy, which was conveniently only 10 minutes away from where I was living at the Nicholson’s. Sarah had been very helpful during my stay in the UK; she also had a very special newly purchased eventer that I was hoping to check out! A lovely young 3-year-old warmblood gelding. The new boy was certainly an impressive type and a lot taller than Sarah’s polo ponies Nero and Max. I look forward to seeing his progress!
I also caught up with long friend Sophie Allison. Sophie and I first met some 28 years ago on my first trip to the UK back in 1990. I had travelled with a team of junior riders from Western Australia to compete in the British Show Pony Society Championships in Builth Wells, Wales. We were the only team riding borrowed ponies out of 17 nations competing. I was fortunate enough to compete Sophie’s awesome pony Louis. Since then we have stayed in contact, along with my parents and Sophie’s parents. Sophie’s family have been owners of many top eventing horses over the years. Ironically Matthew has known Sophie for nearly as long as I have from when he was a working pupil for Andrew Nicholson all those years ago. One of Matt’s best mates Blair Richardson dated Sophie many moons ago. It does always amaze me how truly small the world is at times.
It was then down to Dorset to catch up with Sam Griffiths and Jess Green. I was lured under false pretences, come have dinner and stay the night they said. Sounds great, I thought. Well we did have a great dinner and catch up that’s for sure! However, It was then can you ride one tomorrow at the gallops? Sure no problem sounds fun I said. Oh and by the way can you drive the lorry to the gallops as well? So, the next morning Jess Green and I headed off to William Fox Pitts to gallop two of the 3 star horses that were getting ready for Gatcombe. We arrived back from galloping as Sam was heading off to teach at the local pony club. Sam’s parting words ‘Oh and by the way CP Qualified is tacked up for you to ride’ for old times sake. It was great to have a ride on the big boy; it had certainly been a while.
Whilst waiting for Adelaide's treatments I had the rather large task of re-organising my entire gear ready to transport back to Australia. I can assure everyone that I was regretting packing way too much. Interestingly, I had catered for every weather occasion that the UK would throw at me, except the warm weather. Adelaide in fact probably spent most of the trip naked, many of the rugs that I packed didn’t come out of the bags. When the repacking started I made sure every bit of leather gear had been saddled soaped, everything and anything that would fit in the washing machine got washed. I even went as far as picking out any bits of grass, shavings and fluff out of every bit of gear that had velcro on it. Yes I’m very OCD. What I did manage to do was reduce my bags numbers from 20 down to 13. Every bag was relabelled and a list of every item in every bag was made, this list was then sent to the freight company that would be bringing Adelaide back to Australia. I then commenced the packing of my suitcases, which turned out to be little harder than I thought it would be. As my suitcases had come over in the AKE with Adelaide’s gear bags I had just presumed that I could do the same on the return trip. Luckily I was informed that unless I wanted all my clothes sprayed before leaving the UK sending clothes and personal items home with Adelaide would not be a good option.
So like Adelaide’s gear I personally packed for every occasion, as my previous experience travelling to the UK was I always needed more layers even in summer time, again this was overkill. I eventually sent two boxes (23kg) back to Australia via post 240GBP. After a little investigation this seemed to be the quickest and most reasonable way to get it all home. Shipping was cheaper but would take up to 3 months to arrive and paying for excess baggage was out of my budget. Unfortunately I’m still waiting for my boxes to arrive, as of course they were returned due to electronics being in one of the boxes (my teaching headset and a hairdryer). Hopefully one day I will get my clothes back. The other issue that presented itself was thinking I could bring back 30kg of luggage plus carry on on my flight home to Australia. Well well well note to self- check fine print more closely. After leaving my empty suitcases to return with Adelaide I was feeling pretty confident I had everything organised and ready to go, I had even gone to the lengths of weighing my bags (one large suitcase 26kg and one carry on 11kg) before heading off to Heathrow. Apparently my bag weighing skills suck as the large suitcase weighed 29kg (6kg overweight) and my carry on was 12kg (5kg overweight), I then proceeded to get slugged excess for 11kg. This was a costly mistake, another 150GBP out of pocket. The check-in air hostess felt sorry for me, well not sorry enough to upgrade me to business class although I did manage to get an exit row for the first leg of my trip to Doha and a spare seat next to me on the second leg of the flight. I certainly had a more comfortable flight and managed to get in lots of sleep. Finally back in Australia.
A Grooms Perspective
Aachen….where to begin? Its hard to describe the feeling of walking Christine Bates’ horse Adelaide Hill around the grass arena’s , as riders like Ingrid Klimke and Marcus Ehning just casually stroll past you! These are the riders that have inspired and continue to inspire me everyday so it is a very surreal and cool experience. Going into Aachen I was both very excited and nervous.I had never been to a show of such calibre so it was a little daunting! Christine and I both laugh at how OCD we are, we enjoy everything being orderly, so being in a different country with unfamiliar surroundings can be quite tricky. however, once greeted by the large Australian banners streaked across the stables it quickly felt like home.
Once Adelaide was settled into his stable I took him for a walk around the grounds. To get to the grass arena where you were able to warm up, lunge, hand walk and graze you went through a maze of stable blocks and crossed over various paths which included bypassing the amazing trade stalls, to this point Adelaide was his normal chilled self, however this quickly changed when low and behold the marching band got starters. Oh my gosh I don’t think I have seen a horses eyes pop out of their head more than Adelaide’s did haha…once that passed he was a man on a mission to get to the grass. We joke at home that when he comes in from the paddock in the afternoons his head is always fat, we suspect it is because his piggy self just eats and eats and eats, he very much enjoyed the Aachen grass after his long travels across from the UK.
On the Friday Christine and Adelaide put there best foot forward to produce two fabulous results in both the show jumping and dressage arena. It was a very proud groom moment as I watched them make their way down the centreline looking very much the part with the Australian flag proudly stitched onto the saddle blanket.
I made sure that I always gave myself at least 45 minutes to get Adelaide ready, it was important to me that he looked the best he could, fortunately he is already very handsome so he makes my job quite easy! Lots of gear cleaning, baby oiling, makeup and brushing! Once Christine mounted Adelaide I would quickly follow with my little bag filled with everything you could possibly need before entering the ring- sponges, towels, brushes, studs, baby wipes, camera, whip and everything in between! The horses were all turned out to such an incredible standard. One thing I noticed that over in the UK they tend to do lots and lots of little tiny plaits so I was very relieved when Christine said it wasn’t what she wanted.
One of the highlights of the whole event was being in amongst the warm up; wether that be waiting to take the boots off or walking Adelaide around. I was so proud to be wearing the Australian uniform, I felt apart of something very special. I was seriously impressed by the professionalism of not only the riders but also the stewards and marshals, it was really outstanding. The grooms at Aachen were treated with such respect; we were given three free meals a day (who am I to turn down free food!) and had access to almost everywhere on the grounds including the fabulous trade stalls which I made full use of and definitely put a dent in the bank account. The grooms were all great and it is so lovely when passing grooms from other countries and you can exchange a nice smile and hello. I became particularly close with Andrew Hoy’s groom Katie Dutton. Grooming can be a tough gig at times especially when things don’t always go to plan so it is always nice to have the support of other grooms!
On Saturday morning cross country approaches , and the stables are always in madness with everyone trying to organise ice, studs, the cool down and gear. Unfortunately team Bates had a disappointing morning with the decision to withdraw Adelaide due to presenting lame out of the stable for XC. Although this is not the result anyone was hoping for, Adelaide and Christine had proven themselves at an international level and I felt very proud of them both.
There is definitely a certain feeling in the air on cross country day and even the horses could feel it, so much excitement and adrenaline! I was lucky enough to go sit in the main stadium and watch the riders over the last few fences. A highlight would definitely be watching Chris Burton come through the finish line. You can see how he earns the title of being the fastest cross country rider in the world. The cool down is always a bit of a stressful period for grooms, you want to make sure you get the horse cooled down as fast as possible especially in the German heat, lots of water being thrown everywhere, sometimes not actually on the horse but the people around it haha.
As I left Aachen on the Saturday night, exhausted and very poor I was filled with such excitement and so many great memories. It is an event that I think everyone should put on their bucket list wether you are horsey or not, there is something for everyone. As a groom I walked away with more respect and knowledge of the sport I love and it opened my eyes to the opportunities that the equestrian world can offer. I was able to make friends with grooms from all different countries and feel apart of something very special. It was tiring, emotional and at times overwhelming , but totally rewarding and I loved every minute of it and am super proud to have been a part of Team Bates.
Groom Izzy over’n’ out
Tuesday 10th July
Mum, William and I were invited to Samantha Birch’s property for a BBQ just after Barbury. It was a great night catching up with Sammi and meeting her husband Ed. The BBQ had a very Aussie feel with Rob Palm joining us. Rob has based at Sammi’s for his UK campaign. Catching up with Sammi’s long term Head Girl Hels who I don’t think has changed a bit. More Aussies as Sammi’s working pupil is also from Australia Hannah Lewindon. Sammi and Ed have recently purchased a great equestrian property near Cirencester. The property has a huge house which is currently undergoing renovations. There are lots of stables, accommodation and an indoor and outdoor arena. There’s lots of work to be done but it’s a great property with so much potential. Apparently Rob has been put to work doing lots of handyman jobs.
Thursday 12th July
Our first team training in preparation for Aachen was a two day Nelson Pessoa Clinic held at the Wellington Riding Club. The Wellington Riding Club is a huge Riding and Livery Centre with multiple outdoor and indoor arenas. We were lucky enough to have the new outdoor arena which was huge and had a fantastic surface.
Day one of the clinic focused on how we warm our horses up before competition. The main focus was riding our horses in a way to really get them to use their body and back. Make them have to work and think at the same time. We had a couple of simple exercises where we varied the strides before and after the fence and the exercise was jumped from both directions. Once the horse was waiting, listening and using themselves we then moved to a square oxer again jumping from both sides and the height increased and the oxer became wider. We finished our warm up with a tall vertical. We used the vertical as our last fence as the first fence we were about to go and jump started with a vertical.
Due to Adelaide being spooky and I’d had the added bonus of watching the previous lessons I warmed Adelaide up a little earlier for my lesson so I could ride through the exercise with the poles on the ground. Once he had the idea he settled into the exercise well. As always he jumped the oxer and vertical super. We then moved outside to the big arena where the recent 4* Luhmuhlen showjumping course had been replicated. The results showed that rails coming down and time faults were very influential. The main difference I could tell was the course was set at about 1.40m – 1.45m. Adelaide started his round well until I had the vertical going into the treble at fence 6A. This did fire him up a little and he became a little harder to ride and I had another vertical down at fence 11. I was still pleased as Adelaide had only done one round of showjumping since April at Barbury in the CIC2*. After a quick chat with Nelson we decided to jump the whole course again. Adelaide felt super and was really rideable and much more focused and on the job. I certainly finished the lesson ready to tackle Aachen.
Friday 13th July
The second day of the Nelson Clinic was again about exercises and grids and then going and jumping around another course. Was very interesting watching the change and improvement in each horse when they came to jump the course. The Aachen squad horses didn’t jump again and most riders bought their other horses for the second day. Adelaide had a fairly easy day hacking out in the woods.
Saturday 14th July
Saturday was a dressage session at home and to start organising horse and human gear for Aachen. Normally this isn’t such a big deal but when you are travelling in someone else’s lorry it’s easy to forget things as you are so used to all the gear and equipment just living in your truck/gooseneck. Packing is also hard for me as I have a terrible habit of over packing especially when it comes to rugs. Meanwhile super groom Izzy Dunne had the weekend off to go and catch up with her mum and family up in leeds. Mum got onto organising things like tickets on the Eurorail and accommodation in Brussels and more train tickets from Brussels to Aachen and return.
Sunday 15th July
Sunday I had Stuart Tinney come and visit Adelaide and I at Westwood Stud. Stuart gave me a hand jumping Adelaide as I wanted to set up a few things like a corner and a bounce in preparation for Aachen. Adelaide jumped super and I could certainly feel the benefits from the clinic with Nelson.
Monday 16th July
Monday we drove to Gareth Hughes property for dressage lessons. The drive was about 1hr and 45 mins and I must say I’m getting more confident with driving on the English roads and the many narrow lanes and roundabouts. I’ve trained a fair bit with Gareth in Australia but not since 2016. Gareth certainly felt that Adelaide had improved and was now more supple and definitely softer. We mainly worked on the movements and lines of the test and trying to pick up those extra marks. We then headed back home. One of the frustrating things of driving lorries in the UK is the maximum speed is 90kph. It makes driving very boring and I was struggling to stay awake. 90kph seemed mind numbingly slow.
Tuesday 17th July
I gave Adelaide a fairly easy day with just 10 minutes stretching and then a hack out in the woods as Sammi Had planned to leave for Aachen in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The drive from the UK to Aachen is approx. 12 hours but can be longer depending on the queues for the ferry. Meanwhile mum drove to Swindon Train Station to collect Matthew who had finally arrived in the UK. Izzy, William and I finished loading the lorry with Adelaide and all of his gear to deliver him to Sammi’s, ready for departure to Aachen. Matt and mum met us at Sammi’s. It was great to finally see my husband, chatting daily on the phone is just not the same. We left Adelaide in the capable hands of Hels.
It was then time for everyone to get their own bags ready for the journey to Aachen. We were driving from Marlborough to Heathrow Airport to drop the hire car off. It was then a taxi ride to St Pancras International Station. We had a 2 hour super fast train ride from London to Brussels. We arrived in Brussels at about 11pm and while looking for a our hotel room nearly got ourselves in the middle of a brawl just outside the train station. There was lots of screaming and yelling and people running everywhere. We high tailed it out of there and found the hotel pretty smartly. The cops finally turned up and the chaos ended. We were all ready for bed.
Wednesday 18th July
Next morning we all had a lovely breakfast and a little bit of relaxation time. It was then another hours train ride to Aachen. Once in Aachen we found Mum, William and Matthews hotel and dropped their bags off. We then all headed to Aachen. Wow it’s just out of this world. We managed to find the accreditation office and then it was onto finding mine and Izzy’s hotel. It was then time to find the shuttle buses that regularly go to the hotels. This took a while and it wasn’t much fun lugging our suitcases around the horse park. But eventually we found both and it was a relief to dump the bags. It was straight back to Aachen to check out the lay of the land.
Aachen is a very large complex especially if you’ve not been there before. It did take us a while to find the stables as the eventer barn is not near the main stable complex where the dressage and jumpers are located. It was a great sight to walk down the aisle and see all our stables decked out with Aussie flags and our names on the doors. We then checked out all the arenas and the trade stands as we waited for the horses to arrive.
Once the horses arrived it was pretty hectic to get horses unloaded and gear sorted. We also needed more shavings for the stables but the only person I could find was a young boy driving a tractor that didn’t speak much English. Eventually we sorted shavings and the ponies were happy with their extra fluffy beds. I then had a lesson booked with Gareth Hughes. Adelaide went very well and we only worked for about 25 mins. Gareth thought he was going better since our Monday lesson. Just shows you how good Gareth is as a coach. Once we had all finished working our horses it was then a quick team meeting to organise our ride times, briefing times, course walk and trot up times for the following day.
Thursday 19th July
I opted to give Adelaide an early morning jump session. This was done out on a large grass arena shared with the showjumpers. There are plenty of fences to choose from and the grass footing was excellent. Adelaide jumped very well and we didn’t jump too big. I just wanted to make sure that he was rideable and not spooky. We had the competitors briefing at 1.00pm where they do the draw for the Nations Cup Teams. It came down to position 2 and 11 between Aus and the UK and we drew number 2 out. Long story short, this made me first rider out and first rider for the Australian Team. It was then onto xc course walking. It always amazes me how different a venue can look on TV compared to real life. The XC course and going was superb. It was a tough three star track and there was a lot of decisions to make. Time was always going to be tough to make.
At 5pm we had the official horse inspection. Adelaide was the first of the Aussie horses to trot and he trotted well and was accepted. All the Aussie horses passed the first inspection. It was then time to get back in the saddle for arena familiarisation. The teams were split in half. We then had approx. ½ an hour to play in the arena. It was very interesting that we were allowed to ride in the arena and there were no limitations on what you could do in the arena. You did have to watch what you were doing at all times as there is so many in the arena at once. I really can’t understand why in Australia we are not allowed to do this at our major events. Especially events that have all weather surfaces. If the best show in the world will allow this to happen why are we making it even harder for our aussie based riders to do their best come dressage day. We need to get with the times and follow the rest of the world.
It had been a long and busy day and we were all hungry so the riders and our supporters crashed the Grooms BBQ which is put on by the organising committee. The food was fantastic and it was great to catch up with our family and friends after a busy first day. Izzy and I then caught the shuttle back to our hotel, showered and went to bed. It’s extremely hard of an evening to work out what time it is due to the sun setting so late. Before you know it it’s 11pm at night.
Friday 20th July
Friday was an early start as I needed to pre ride Adelaide at 6.30am ready for his test time at 8.30am. We left the hotel at 5.30am by taxi. Luckily we had a great taxi driver as I informed him, I had no cash and he didn’t take credit card. So he found me an atm on our way to the horse park. Adelaide had a quick bite to eat, Izzy mucked him out and I found coffee. I was on Adelaide bt 6.30am and just did a lot of long and low with lots of stretching. We were back in the stables by 6.50am. Izzy worked her magic and I went and got competition ready. I was back on Adelaide at 7.55am for my 8.30am test. He felt really good in the warm up and the officials moved me into the final warm-up. I thought I only had 8 mins to my test but apparently the officials were a little too eager and I still had 12 mins to my test. This was slightly bad timing as I could feel that Adelaide was starting to get tired so I had no option but to give him a walk break. This was not ideal but out of my control really. I then picked him back up and did a couple of minutes and then we were in that main arena. Adelaide as always gave me everything he had. We were a little lacking in the first medium trot and my timing was a little out in the flying changes. But overall I thought our test was relaxed and accurate. I was a little disappointed with our score but it was always going to be hard going first out at your first international competition. I was probably on of the luckier riders that had pretty consistent marks from all three judges as this was not the case for many riders that followed. I was also grateful to be on early as the day proceeded to get quite warm which is not ideal with a horse that still has his winter coat.
The rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent watching and supporting my fellow teammates. Unfortunately Rob’s horse Koko Story was belled during his test by the judges and eliminated. We were all shocked and extremely heartbroken for Rob. Andrew did a great test on a fairly inexperienced horse. He definitely looked like he’s only going to get better. Sammi had an almost perfect test with just a couple of annoying glitches. Burto did a lovely test on his beautiful mare but did have a few moments of tension which probably cost them the lead. Overall it was a good day for the Aussies.
I had organised a XC course walk with Sam Lyle who was at Aachen as part of the High Performance Elite coaching program. I wanted to make the most of having my regular coach Sam and his words of wisdom. It was great being able to really makes plans about the lines I would be taking to try and have a fast clear round. You really had to know at every fence if you were taking an inside line or an outside line. It’s easy to see why Chris Burton is the fastest XC rider in the world. It’s all about covering the shortest amount of ground among other things. As this was Adelaide’s first big international event I felt I had to take into consideration that the crowds could be a factor in the approach to some fences. Overall I was very confident that Adelaide and I would do well around the XC course.
Unlike some events, Aachen runs on time, all the time. I started Adelaide’s show jumping warm up in the big grass jumping arena with the assistance of the legend Nelson Pessoa and Stuart Tinney. As I had been warned that I would need to be at the gate to walk the course quickly to get back on Adelaide for my final warm up. I raced around the course with Nelson. Made a plan and was very aware of how large this arena is and that I would need to watch my time on course. While I was walking the course I had Stuart putting Adelaide’s hind boots back on in front of the stewards. I only planned to jump a few fences in the warm up as Adelaide felt so good. I was then given the call to go to the arena spot on time. I was extremely grateful of the advise from Sam Griffiths and Chris Burton. You really can’t appreciate just how big that arena is until you’re riding in it.
From the moment Adelaide and I entered that arena I was extremely confident that he was going to jump amazing, and he delivered. There is no better feeling than making a plan and then being able to execute that plan. We were extremely unlucky to have 4 faults at the second last, the C element of the treble. Adelaide felt like he tried his heart out and you can’t ask any more than that. Pretty sure you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for a good few hours.
Saturday 21st July
Saturday morning was not what I was expecting with Adelaide trotting up lame. I had to make the heartbreaking decision to withraw him from the cross country. To come so far and to be performing so well just made it all that bit harder. As it wasn’t just the personal disappointment but the disappointment of letting my teammates down and Australia no longer having a team in the Nations Cup at the biggest show in the world. Its was extremely difficult as well for all my family, friends and supporters that had flown from Australia to watch us compete.
Once XC started I went and supported our three remaining Aussie riders and watched them all put in amazing performances and helped them all in the cool down. As far as I was concerned I was still a member of the team and that’s the Aussie thing to do. I truly believe that Adelaide and I would have stormed around the cross country but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Sunday 22nd July
We headed home to the UK with a lot of disappointment in our hearts. It was also hard with knowing that Izzy, Mum, Matthew and William were all heading back to Australia and Adelaide and I would be on our own again.
Adelaide is now back at the Nicholson’s Westwood Stud and he’s enjoying having a few days off and loving being able to go out in his field. Today we go and see Australian Team Vet Graham Potts. I know Adelaide very well and unfortunately it doesn’t look good and our campaign has come to an end. I’ve spoken with Chris Webb and Adelaide and I will not be named in the final 8 horses still in contention for the World Equestrian Games. After the most amazing start to our campaign it has all ended suddenly and as you can imagine it’s extremely sad. Adelaide and I have had a dream run over the last 8 months and our time in the UK has also been a truly life changing experience. But for whatever reason it’s just not meant to be. I would have loved Adelaide to have had the fairytale ending he so deserved. I will always be truly grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me by my supporters, the Australian Eventing community, friends and family and the support given by Equestrian Australia.. It was so close to being perfect.
All Things Barbury!
Times flies when you‘re having fun!
Thank you to everyone back home that supported my online auction whether you donated a prize for the auction or you bought a prize in the auction. Without your support and generosity Adelaide and I couldn’t be on this trip of a lifetime. I will be forever grateful that so many people in Australia made this possible for me. So thank you, thank you xxx
Well last week my Aussie family arrived. First off was the arrival of Izzy Dunne in preparation for Barbury CIC. Izzy has been working for Team Bates since March this year. I can honestly say without Izzy we would never have been able to organise this trip to the UK. Izzy has been such an asset to our team with her love of the horses, exceptional computer skills and her ability to put up with our crazy eventer life and family. Adelaide was very happy to see Izzy and demanded where is the NUTRIGRAIN.
The following day saw the arrival of my mum Wendy and William Bates. William had a few big days of travel which had seen him fly from Sydney to Perth spend a few hours in Perth and then continue to London with my mum. As per usual William charmed all the crew and scored himself a spot in the cockpit on the new Dreamliner. Mum and William had to hit the ground running as we were wanting to take Adelaide cross country schooling before Barbury. We are lucky that XC schooling at Boomerang Stables is not too far from the Nicholson’s and run by Australian Russ Hardy. This is a great facility and had plenty to offer including some firm Aussie type ground.
Thursday was spent riding Adelaide, cleaning and packing gear. I was able to take the small lorry to Barbury which meant that I could bring Adelaide home after his dressage test so he didn’t have to stand in the sun for the whole day. Its ok I haven’t turned all English and gone soft, Adelaide still has his winter coat and the temps were around 30 degrees with humidity and no breeze.
When we arrived at Barbury Andrew very kindly gave me a run down on where I could find everything. Go to that hut and pay your starting fee and then you can collect your back numbers. Walk down there for your two star warm up and competition arenas. Oh and make sure you take your FEI passport when you go to do your test. I. stood there for a second and went, oh shit. Andrew is like, “you forgot your passport didn’t you?” Everyone who knows me knows that I like to be very organised, I usually think of everything, very rarely forget anything and well known for over packing. A quick phone call to Mum and crisis was averted. Good thing the Nicholson’s only live about 15 minutes from Barbury.
Adelaide performed well in the dressage and did his usual consistent test. The warm up area for the two star dressage was on the side of a hill and was as firm as Goulburn. So not ideal and I was very mindful to not over do it. There is certainly room for improvement in our test for Aachen and I’ll be looking forward to being able to ride in good arena’s. We had a quick chat with Helen Christie who had come along to say Hi and watch my test, a few photos with the awesome Libby Law and we took Adelaide back to the lorry to be cooled down.
While we cooled Adelaide down we caught up with Derek Pascoe and did a quick interview for Equestrian Australia on our life in the UK. We then drove Adelaide back to Westwood Stud so he could have the rest of the afternoon in his box out of the sun and humidity. Getting home proved a little more difficult as the road into Barbury from Marlborough is very narrow and not ideal for lorries. Just as we were nearly into Marlborough the traffic came to a stand still as the lane is really only wide enough for one lorry not two lorries going in opposite directions. This was extremely interesting to watch as the lorry I was following decided that it should have a bit of an argument with the oncoming lorry as who should have to reverse back to let the other one through. After about 10 minutes the bigger lorry won and the small lorry started the very difficult task of reversing backwards while trying to not bump any parked cars on the street and convince the cars and lorries behind them already that they too need to start reversing. What seemed like forever we were then eventually able to pass and continue on what is meant to be a short journey home. Poor Adelaide was pretty hot and sweaty once off the lorry. Unlike Aussie trucks where we make sure there is always good ventilation and airflow, English lorries tend to have very small windows and no roof vents so on a hot day the horses will sweat up.
We then headed back to Barbury to have a course walk around the 2* track. For those that don’t know Barbury it’s pretty hilly and you can virtually see the whole course as a spectator. I thought the track was inviting at the start and relatively straight forward. First combination was a brush rolltop jumping off a turn down hill to a brush arrowhead which was approximately 70 meters after the A element. This brush arrowhead did cause a few problems as you come down the hill the horses have a full view of all the marquees and trade stands so can be easily distracted if you’re riding an inexperienced horse. Next combination was an open skinny oxer then six curving strides to an open corner. You then went uphill and turned onto a coffin/gully style fence, vertical rail in and out over a brush arrowhead. It was then onto a quarry with just a rock wall going in and nothing on the way out. A couple of table tops on a curving 5 strides it was then downhill to another table 5 strides to a wishing well and three strides to another wishing well. We then had two water jumps, first water was a pheasant feeder type fence where you landed on dry ground and then ran down into a pond, you then travelled approximately 80 meters to a log drop into water and six strides out over a V style arrowhead rails. You then had a couple of single straightforward fences and the next related line was a wall with brush on top, up a mound to an owl hole then seven or eight strides on a right curve to a brush arrowhead. Both the owl hole and brush arrowhead caused problems. We then had three more fences and you were home. Overall a great first start for Adelaide who had not competed since Sydney 3DE the last weekend of April.
Saturday we left early so I could walk the cross country course with Andrew Nicholson. Andrew is known as the king of Barbury so I wanted to make the most of his experience and knowledge of the course. His information was spot on. We also walked the two star showjumping. It was an interesting course and quite different to what we have in Australia. Firstly the arena is on two levels. Secondly there are some XC fences also in the arena ready for the ERM class which finishes in the main arena. The course was a mix of tight turns and open stretches. You also went up the bank to the second level to a vertical four strides to an oxer, canter around the water jump over a triple bar back down to the lower level to the last related line and combination. Time was relatively easy to make as they had set it at 98 seconds and then reduced the time again after the first three horses to 90 seconds. I watched the first 10 horses go and everyone was making the time easily.
Adelaide show-jumped at noon. I made the decision to turn inside to fence 3 and go outside to fence 4. In hindsight I slightly overrode Adelaide up the bank and probably didn’t quite give him enough time to read the vertical and we had it down. Overall I was happy with how he jumped and the way he handled the atmosphere and the different styled arena. It was just a short wait till I went XC. Adelaide felt extremely confident and pretty quick around the track and we finished just two seconds over the time allowed. I had purposely not found out what the time allowed was on course so I could let him travel at the speed he was comfortable with and give a great ride at the same time. It turned out we were one of the few fast rounds of the day and moved from 27th place to 5th place. Barbury was a great event and a great run in preparation for Aachen.
Sunday I gave Adelaide a quiet ride and he had time out in the field. I then headed over to Barbury to watch the ERM class go XC. Caught up with friends and had a few drinks. If you ever want to watch a rider on how to ride the perfect cross country round watch Chris Burton. His round was sensational and he was the only rider to make time (9 seconds) under. For me his horse was always in balance and the pace changed instantly when required, the round was super smooth and his horse looked to have finished more confident the further they went. You can totally see why Chris is the fastest cross country rider in the world.
Monday after working Adelaide the family and I headed to Bath for some sightseeing. Wow Bath is truly a beautiful town with so much history. I just love the architecture and the lovely old buildings. We didn’t go to the Roman Baths as the queue was ridiculously long and it was pretty hot to be standing around for hours. Instead we had lunch and walked round taking in the sights. We did venture into the amazing Cathedral. It’s hard to comprehend that you are walking over grave stones that are from the 17th Century. My great friend Becks Bennett was also able to spend the day with us. I first met Becks when she came to Australia backpacking in about 2003. Becks lived and worked with us and groomed for Matthew and I during her stay. I then conned Becks to come back in 2006 to nanny/groom when William was just 6 weeks old. Becks and I have always stayed in touch over the years. Becks was instrumental in sending Rosie Jilla to our property back in 2011, and she also helped us in 2016 when I was planning to bring Adelaide to the Uk in preparation for Rio Olympics. So to actually be in the UK with Adelaide seems even more special when you can share that experience with friends and family from all over the world.
Tuesday we spent the day at home catching up on washing, food shopping and office jobs. William has become great mates with Andrew and Wiggys son Zac. William and Zac literally ran around all day playing some form of sport. Either tennis, cricket, rugby or soccer and their playtime even included an ironman course which meant swimming in the horse baths! I’m truly grateful to the Nicholson’s for not only having Adelaide and I stay at their home but my crazy family. It has certainly been fun and loud.
Next blog – Nelson Pessoa Clinic, BBQ’s with Aussies, Gareth Hughes and preparations for Aachen.
Aachan here we come!
Wow what a week it’s been.
Dodgy sales man, gallops in England, English pubs, catching up with Aussie friends and representing Australia.
Last Saturday was spent driving around looking at used cars. Its sounds fun but it was not. I live in a beautiful town in Marlborough, Wiltshire and I went car shopping in Swindon. Swindon is no less than 12 miles from Marlborough and sounds like a lovely name and you are in England so of course it has to be another beautiful town. Oh, how wrong was I. Think of car shopping in Blacktown. Luckily I had moral support in former Aussie resident and client Sarah Martin. Sarah lived and worked in Sydney and changed hobbies from polo to eventing and was a regular at the Bates Ultimate Training Clinic and comp days and moved back to the UK about 18 months ago with her pocket rocket polo pony turned eventer Nero.
You know your in trouble when even google maps is getting lost. It was a sign that I probably shouldn’t bother with this car and dealer. Next stop really wasn’t any better, more dodgy cars and rust buckets and some cars had such bad smells there are no words to describe the stench. I was amazed how they are quite happy for you to jump in the car a and take it for a test drive knowing that you are a foreigner. After a couple more no goes, it was time for a pub lunch, re group and find some more cars to look at. Sarah and I scoured google and we found another car yard and this one actually looked more promising. Less sleazy sales man, better quality cars and more to choose from. The guy actually seemed genuine. I found a golf that I liked took it for a spin, negotiated a few things that I wanted fixed and left a deposit. Happy days or so I thought.
Things that I have learned, trust no one especially car sales men. When buying a car, like I am, for short term use you need to make sure the car has a long MOT (green slip), you make sure you pay for a HPI check (not stolen, under finance etc), V5 log book (UK car registration) and then you need to look at getting insurance. Insurance is especially expensive if you are a foreigner as you have no record of NCD (no claims discount). So, I’m all excited and enter my golf’s license plate number into the HPI check, good it recognises that, secondly enter vin number (I had taken a photo of the plate on the engine before my test drive, all good so far everything is matching like it should. Next, I entered the date of first registration from the V5 paper work (had taken photo’s of this document). Red flag not matched. Oh that’s weird. I check the vin number from the photo I’d taken against the vin number on the V5 registration papers, this doesn’t match either. Quick call to the sales man and he’s like totally not understanding me at all. So an angry Christine calls HPI and asks what I should do, I lodge a complaint with the DVLA and ask them to investigate. So I email the sales man explaining everything and he assures me it must be a typo and they have never had this happen in 8 years of selling cars. Needless to say I said no to this car.
I’ve since found another car and it will be getting vet checked by the AA in the next day or two. But it’s off to a better start than the last one as it was all clear on the HPI report. I’ve negotiated with the car yard to fix a few things so hopefully this one passes the vet check. I will then need to tackle the task of insurance. This is not a cheap exercise as many of the insurance companies in the UK will not consider your driving record or no claims bonus from Australia.
Since my arrival in the UK I’ve discovered online shopping with Amazon. My little apartment needed a few household items and not knowing my way around it was much easier just to shop online with home delivery. My first item arrived- an electric fry pan. I was so excited and cooked an omelette, I heated up the fry pan and chucked it all in and off I started cooking away but not for long as the element blew up. I have since returned the fry pan, luckily all my other purchases have not failed so far.
Adelaide has now had two gallops in the UK. I’m very fortunate to be able to gallop near Barbury on an all weather gallop track up the most amazing hill. As we drive to the gallops you can see that the preparations for the Barbury event are well under way with the stables already being put up some three weeks ago. The closest thing I’ve seen in Australia would be the new gallop track at Wallaby Hill. Adelaide is certainly appreciating being off the hard ground and I’m looking forward to Barbury this weekend. Adelaide is only competing in the CIC** as he’s not had a start since Sydney 3DE at the end of April. There’s some 298 entries in the CIC**. Barbury is only about a 25 minute drive from Andrew’s yard so we will come home each day.
Last week I managed a night out with fellow Aussie riders Rob Palm and Lissa Green. We had dinner at a lovely pub called Silkes On The Down. Rob and Woody have settled in well at Samantha Birch’s and like me Rob has been on the hunt for a car. It was great to catch up with Lissa as it had been sometime, she has certainly grown up and she was very good at keeping Rob and I entertained for the evening.
Last Saturday I had a great lunch date at The Outside Chance in Marlborough (lunch may have gone for 4 hours with several Gin and Tonics) with an old friend Sophie Allison. Sophie and I first met some 29 years ago while I was over here competing as a junior rider. I was extremely lucky at the time I won Sophie’s pony in the pool horses. We have stayed in contact with Sophie and her family over the years. An interesting side note is back in 1996 when I returned from Sydney to Perth I met a boy named Matthew Bates. Matthew and I were talking at a party about the UK. He asked me who I knew in the UK and I answered with, I really only know one person her name is Sophie Allison. I can still remember the look on Matthew’s face as he also knew Sophie as his best mate at that time had actually dated Sophie, his name was Blair Richardson. So as they say the rest is history.
Last week saw the announcement of the Eventing Riders who will be representing Australia at Aachen in a couple of weeks time. I’m so thrilled to be named as one of the 5 riders going to Aachen. No matter who you talk to about Aachen everyone always says it’s a must do event, the best show in the world. So to be picked to compete and represent my country at Aachen is beyond my expectations and I feel like a kid in a candy store.
So its really hard to imagine that the UK is as bad as everyone says it is regarding the weather. I have now been here for 3 weeks and it has been amazingly good. Tops of about 28 degrees during the day and down to about 14 degrees at night – perfect, my kind of summer really. I’ve been told by several UK residents that this is about the best summer they have had since 1976. Feeling very lucky.
Off I go now to go and get ready for Barbury.
Till next time.
Flying High- Part 3
Adelaide and I are in the UK and loving it!
When you plan a trip overseas with a horse and you’ve never been before it can be very daunting. I was extremely lucky that I had many people to be able to call and discuss my plans with. Travelling horses around the world is not easy and I made the most of the people that had way more experience than me. The new Australian Chef d Equipe Stuart Tinney and Shane Rose have travelled a lot recently with multiple horses and produced good results.
The main things to take into consideration are the change of seasons and being aware that the horses can hit a flat spot around the 6 -8 week mark. The longer you’re away from home means more things can go wrong. The other biggest change is feed. I researched feed and spoke with my Sponsors at Sydney Equestrian Supplies and Robanks Feeds to guarantee that theses changes would be minimal. I was also grateful that I was able to bring all of Adelaide’s regular supplements on the plane with me. So, the main difference for Adelaide in his feed is, in Australia Adelaide has good quality Lucerne hay and here in the UK he has haylage. Haylage is very interesting and looks like a very boring grass hay. It probably took Adelaide about 48 hours to realise this was his new hay and he’s now loving it.
Normally at home Adelaide is fed his hay on the ground but here due to him being stabled 24/7 he is fed his haylage in a slow feeder hay net. This is generally topped up morning and night. I love the the fact he can munch on his haylage all day long. But the biggest change for Adelaide is the fact he has grass. With NSW and many other places around Australia in drought it was hard to remember what grass looked like. Adelaide looks forward to his hand grazing twice a day with great enthusiasm. He usually has 30 mins morning and night. You just have to watch for the very pesky and biting horse flies but even they don’t seem to deter him for his grass time. These flies can really upset some horses and they will start to run around the fields (paddocks) until you bring them back into the stables. They can be best described as our March flies.
In just a week Adelaide has regained the condition he lost on the plane ride and his coat has a great shine and healthy feel. Adelaide doesn’t really grow a winter coat (must be the Oberon upbringing at the Turners Winton Park in his younger days) but I can tell his summer coat is just around the corner thanks to the extra long daylight hours we are having here in the UK. Obviously, this is another consideration with the change of hemisphere and at least going from an Aussie winter to a UK summer should take less out of Adelaide compared to going from summer into winter as growing a winter coat takes more energy.
Work wise Adelaide had the day off after his arrival. He ate well and was drinking, just not the same amount he would drink at home. In his stable here he has an automatic waterer. I don’t have these at home as I want to know exactly how much each horse drinks every day. So here I’ve added a tub trug with water so he has both options. I can tell he’s drinking his usual amount again by how much wet shavings I’m removing from his stable morning and night, my staff will understand where I’m coming from. Adelaide drinks more water than any other horse I’ve ever owned. Which is great as I’m pretty sure he’s never dehydrated but my shavings bill is always astronomical. Which is not great when you’re paying 7 GBP per bag.
The next few work sessions were really just stretching and suppling work-outs, nothing too strenuous, as I want to keep his muscles moving but not make them any more fatigued than they already are from the flight. It’s been all about getting him used to his new routine and recovering from the travel. Our first official hack out on UK soil was in the 1000 acre woods that backs on to Wiggy & Andrews property. I’d asked if I was ok to go out on my own but Andrew told me I would get lost. So, I was extremely privileged to have Wiggy & Andrews daughter Lily accompany me who just happened to be riding Nereo. I absolutely would have gotten lost had I gone out on my own. I’ll put it down to the jet lag. I was extremely grateful to have a lead through the woods unfortunately Adelaide thought that it meant he had to race the whole time not great when you’re just in a snaffle. Which is a little ironic considering he’s not a TB and he certainly has never raced but then I remembered all those years ago I use to make him chase Delago to try and teach him to gallop.
Adelaide had his first jump session early in the week on the grass jump arena. In hindsight I probably should have put some studs in as there had been some early morning drizzle so it was a little slippery. I think Adelaide had forgotten what it was like to jump on grass. Andrew was concerned that it might be too firm. It possibly was for English standards but it felt pretty bloody good compared to some of the going we compete on in Australia. Adelaide was extremely well behaved and not too spooky. In fact he felt really good and I was just pleased to not be doing dressage. That same afternoon Adelaide had his 2nd Equine Influenza vaccination. The downside of organising a trip like this with very little time has been trying to coordinate his vaccinations between travelling, recovering from travelling and his first competition. To compete at FEI level in the UK and Europe all horses must be fully vaccinated against EI. Once given the first vaccination the second vaccination must be given 21 -28 days apart. The second vaccination must be given 7 days before competition. From then it’s a 6 monthly booster. So, to try and squeeze this all in has taken a bit of planning. The EI vaccination can make some horses react, temperature, reaction at the injection site and generally feel a bit flat. Luckily Adelaide has not had any of these issues but I did give him a few easy days.
After Adelaide’s few easy days we had our first real dressage training session and he felt really good. Considering everything that he has had to endure he felt remarkably supple and soft. The next day we had a proper jump starting in the indoor arena to warm up. The indoor arena has a fantastic surface (Martin Collins) and Adelaide was really pinging. Once he was warmed up we ventured to the rubber outdoor arena where Andrew had set up a few gymnastic exercises. Adelaide was his usual careful and watchful self and very rideable and not spooky. The downside to the black rubber arena is Adelaide now has two black socks. But I will leave that problem to his normal groom Izzy Dunne, a present for her impending arrival in a week or so. Sorry Izzy.
We had another woods hack out yesterday and Adelaide was much better behaved maybe due to the fact this time I put his Pelham bridle on and I’m feeling confident that next time I will be able to go it alone. The woods are extremely pretty although some of the paths are extremely narrow and all look the same, you’ll frequently pass people walking their dogs. I think I’ve seen every shape and size in my few times in the woods. The next few days Adelaide will do dressage and another jumping session. On Sunday Adelaide will have a have a Muscular and Skeletal treatment, this is something Adelaide has done regularly in Australia by Nicola Finn of Musculoskeletal Vets as well as his regular massages by Sandy Stewart. I think it’s extremely important to try and keep as many things as possible the same as it would be as if I was in Australia. As so many other things will be different and new to Adelaide. Monday, Adelaide will have his first gallop on UK soil, the gallops we will be using are near Barbury.
Also next week will see Adelaide have another vaccination this time for Equine Herpes Virus 1 and 4 again this is two vaccinations given 4 – 6 weeks apart. Then followed by a six monthly booster. Adelaide had his first vaccination prior to leaving Australia. Again horses can react to these vaccinations so it’s extremely important to be aware of how they are feeling and not over do it. All these extra things that our Aussie horses have to go through on top of travelling around the world just make it all a bit harder for them.
Our first competition will be at Barbury CIC2* the first weekend in July. So between now and then we will take Adelaide cross country schooling and have another gallop.
I’m extremely grateful for being able to base at the Nicholson’s. It’s always hard to know what to expect and so far it has been well above my expectations. Wiggy and Andrew have been extremely helpful and accommodating. It was great to have dinner with the whole family the other night and realise it’s just like home, a crazy eventer life with family, dogs and horses and maybe the odd inappropriate dinner conversation. When you forget that sometimes children don’t have a filter. It was also great to hear stories of Matthew Bates during his time with Andrew as a working pupil many years ago. There may have even been a story or two about Blair Richardson.
I love my little apartment and feel settled in my new home. Although I miss my family, it’s nice to be able to have some relaxation time and focus on being a rider. Interestingly this is the first time in my whole life that I have ever really lived on my own. I must say I’m enjoying not having to be permanently washing clothes, cooking meals etc running a business. I manage to fill my days writing blogs, looking for a car to buy, sticking to my budget and keeping up to date with what’s going on at home. I may have also just discovered amazon online shopping.
Adelaide feels settled and is very appreciative to have his own stable block all to himself, he really is being treated like a superstar. I love having my own area to work in which allows me to continue my OCD ways. Yes I packed way too much gear. I have access to great arenas and hacking and advice from one of the most experienced eventers in the world. To top it off the beautiful scenery. I’m extremely blessed that so far the English weather has been amazing and I’m very much looking forward to this weeks forecast of 8 days over 25 degrees as I know the bubble of good weather will burst eventually.
Whatever happens over the next few weeks is anyone’s guess but I’m living the dream and enjoying this very special moment in my life. To be able to chase one’s dreams is not always possible and because of the amazing people that make up the Australian Eventing community I’m here and loving it and hopefully everyone back home can feel they are a part of our journey as well.
Just a quick reminder to everyone to check out my online auction that is up on Nominate, there are many great items big and small to suit everyone’s budget. Some exciting news for our online auction, thanks to Kathy O’Hara, Chris Waller Racing and Peter Tighe from Magic Bloodstock Racing we will have on offer a signed poster of Australia’s favourite racehorse Winx.
Winx is considered the “World’s Best horse on Turf” and “World’s Best Mare”.
The online auction closes on the 1st July so make sure you don’t miss out and get your bids in.
Flying High- Part 2
It dawned on me...Adelaide and I are really going to the UK. It is such a surreal feeling as this is not the first trip I have planned. In fact, this is the third attempt at getting Adelaide on a plane. Obviously, the trick this time was not to tell him what the plans were. So now the reality is I’m sitting in my apartment in Marlborough, Wiltshire writing this blog. It still doesn’t feel real yet.
Wednesday the 13th of June was departure day and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I was extremely lucky to be staying with Sue Ellis who works for Equine International Airfreight, she was able to answer my annoying and probably at times dumb questions. At around lunchtime we took all my gear to the airport to be loaded into an AKE (metal plane storage container). Every bag was checked by security and labelled.
At around 5.30pm along with my travelling buddy, professional groom Nelson Bennett, we got all three horses ready for their flight just as the torrential rain started (got to love Victorian weather). Nothing like wet horses, wet rugs and mud everywhere. Once we got the horses cleaned we waited for the transport truck to collect us to go to the airport. All the horses are supplied with personalised head collars/leads and all travelled naked with no boots. Adelaide and his special ways meant he wore the Hidez compression hood bonnet with sound proof ears and bell boots. He only wore the bonnet for take offs and landings to help minimise the noise.
Once we arrived at the airport the horses are taken (still in the transport truck) into a fully enclosed undercover loading and unloading facility managed by IRT. The timing of loading the horses into the pallet is important as you don’t want them sitting out on the tarmac any longer than needed. Once the horses are loaded into the pallet they are given large hay nets and tied up the same to if they were in a truck or float. Inside the pallet is enough hay (lucerne and grass hay) to last until the UK as well as a couple of water storage containers and buckets. The added bonus was the carrots, apples and of course Adelaide's personal favourite- Nutrigrain. It's amazing how settled the horses are inside the pallet, its fully enclosed with vinyl tie down around all four sides.
It was then time to head to the plane. The pallets are on rollers, so we were rolled onto a trolley that would then take us to the plane. I was lucky enough to travel inside the pallet with the horses. This was probably the only time on the whole trip that Adelaide was a little tense and he did move about a little. While waiting on the tarmac to be loaded into the plane a vehicle turns up and a very serious looking guy gets out and proceeds to follow another pallet that is being loaded, the whole time he is taking photos or video’s, turns out it’s a very expensive painting and worth millions. The horses and I were up next was very cool being scissor lifted into a plane. The horses were one of the last pallets to go into the plane.
I was then able to head up to our business class seats and meet the pilots, this is where we check out all the do’s and don’ts. We were lucky that we had nice pilots and they allowed us to use the beds as they wouldn’t be using them. The pilots also asked what temperature we would like the cargo hold set at, 15 degrees seems to be the ideal travelling temp for horses. What seemed like an eternity we finally taxied out to the runway. It felt like a great take off and I just prayed the horses felt the same. You are not allowed down in the cargo hold during take offs and landings so you just have to hope that all goes well with the horses. Once up in the air the pilot turns off the seat belt sign and you inform the pilot that you are going down to check the horses. You have to take a oxygen bottle with you should the cargo hold depressurise. Not sure what happens to the horses if that happens but hopefully it never does.
The horses all seemed good and I removed Adelaide’s Hood bonnet and we left the horses happily munching on their hay. I then headed back up to bed. I was able to get nearly four hours of good comfortable sleep. It was then time to recheck the horses and offer them some water. The stallion on our flight was the only one that drank really, he had flown before so he was very relaxed. I went back to bed and had some food and more sleep. The next check we did was just before landing in Singapore. Again we offered the horses water and I put Adelaide’s bonnet back on. We had a good landing into Singapore and the horses were nearly the first pallet off loaded from the plane. Due to the heat and humidity in Singapore the horses were taken by trolley to an air-conditioned holding room. We then removed the front partitions and metal bars and put head dividers up. This allowed the horses to eat their hay from the ground and have water buckets. It also meant that they could be left untied. I managed to get to Adelaide to drink a lot of water once I convinced him to play apple bobbing.
What I didn’t realise was that we had a 6 hour stop over in Singapore. As we are in the cargo area of the airport you have a police escort and are not allowed out of their sight. There is really nothing you can do but sit outside where the horses are or sit in the polices car which has the air conditioning cranking. It's really boring and hot. We did refill the water containers and checking the horses regularly. We did have next to the horses the very expensive painting which was also in air conditioning. Again timing was everything as we didn’t want the horses to sit out on the tarmac for too long in the heat and luckily they were the last pallet loaded into the plane. We scored again with nice pilots that gave us their beds. Next stop was Sharjah approx 7 hours flight time.
Sharjah is just north of Dubai and is a cargo airport. We were stopped here for about 1.5 hours just to refuel. Flying into Sharjah was a quiet the experience and the scenery was very sparse, sand and more sand. We were told the outside temp was 38 degrees and were informed that it was a lot cooler than yesterday. Yesterday’s temperature had been 49 degrees. Horses and humans stayed on the plane for the refuelling. Another change of pilots and more food and drinks were loaded into the plane. We didn’t get offered the beds this time by the new pilots. Again the expensive painting was travelling with us, this time it was right in front of the horses, I swear they could touch it with their noses. I’m sure the art gallery that was about to receive the painting would have been horrified that there were horses within millimetres of their million dollar cargo.
The last leg of the journey actually went pretty quick, approx. flight time was 6.5 hours. The horses were all travelling like pros now they didn’t need chest bars or partitions and were able to be left untied so they could eat and drink at their pleasure. I loved the fact that they could get their heads down for nearly the whole flight. Flying into Heathrow was a very stark contrast to Sharjah. The greenery everywhere was mind blowing, lots of green grass and very green leaves on the trees, not like home at all. The horses were unloaded off the plane while Nelson and I were escorted to security and fast tracked through customs. It was great to be off the plane and out in the fresh air. We were then taken to the unloading area where the horse waited to be unloaded out of the pallets. They all walked off the pallet amazingly considering how long they had been travelling for. The horses were checked over by the UK Vet / customs and then they were able to be put into holding stables while the paper work is sorted. Meanwhile we unloaded the pallet and then my AKE with all my gear. The pallet and AKE are then taken away which meant that I could then start moving my gear into the lorry that would then take me on the last part of the journey to Andrew Nicholson’s.
It was then good bye to Leo the stallion, Swiper and my travelling buddy Nelson as Adelaide and I were loaded into the lorry and started the last 1.5 hours drive to our new home in Marlborough. We arrived at approx. 10.45pm, Adelaide was put into his new stable with plenty of water and haylage so hopefully he would get a good nights rest. Then we lugged my suitcases to my apartment. Safe to say I am very glad I don’t need to move these gear bags for a few months. Note to self- don’t pack so much next time. It’s a pain in the arse lol. Well door to door travelling time was 37 hours. It was great and very interesting to travel with the horses and I can’t thank Equine International Airfreight for their professionalism and care of the horses.
In my next blog I will tell you all about what it is like in the UK and at Andrew Nicholson’s!
Don’t forget we currently have an online auction running to help raise funds for this exciting trip of a life time. New items are being added all the time and the items include a wide range of interests, not just horse stuff! Bidding on auction items will close on the 1st July 2018 at 8pm AEST. Go on over to the 'donations' page within tis website for further information and the direct link to the auction.
Flying High- Part 1
So much has happened in the last 10 days I’m not quite sure where to start! In between packing and organising for the trip to the UK I flew to Melbourne 3DE to coach a few of my junior riders: Madi Gielen and Jordyn Faint, both girls were in the CCI**. I arrived just after trot up to a typical cold and windy Werribee. I managed to squeeze in a dressage lesson with Madi before darkness set in. Friday Madi had her dressage test which was consistent and flowing with just a couple of little mistakes. It was then onto course walking and I thought the 2* track was fairly straight forward with a few questions and a little more twisty earlier on in the course than previous years.
I was able to catch up with Sarah Nevile in her lunch break, during her commentary commitments at Melbourne 3DE. I’m extremely grateful to Sarah for her financial contribution towards Adelaide Hill’s UK adventure. Sarah’s love and passion for the sport of eventing is tremendous. She has taken her “eventing supporter” role to a whole new level with the exciting Travel Bursary now on offer to Australian based eventing riders. The aim of the bursary is to help riders in their quest to gain selection for a championship by offering travel funding. I’m lucky enough to be the first recipient of Sarah’s generous bursary. I hope this opens doors in the future for our eventing riders and potentially encourages other eventing supporters to consider doing something similar to keep Australian eventing moving forward.
Saturday saw Jordyn keep a lid on Potsie in the dressage to be lying mid field of 44 competitors. The rest of the morning saw another quick XC course walk and then a little jump for Madi and Toppy before I jumped back on a plane to Sydney to finish the last minute packing and commence my own packing, because of course Adelaide’s was all done first!
Sunday packing- It’s actually not that easy to pack for 4 months away and it’s not like you can duck back and grab what you need or a ask a friend to stop by and pick something up! I managed to fit my stuff in two large suitcases and 2 smaller carry on size cases plus a new fancy back pack, I felt like I was moving out of home haha... news from Melbourne 3DE was Madi and Toppy had gone clear and under time to move them up the leader board and Jordyn and Potsie clear and a few time but they also moved up the leader board.
We finally had all the horse and human gear in the gooseneck, loaded Adelaide and hit the road for Melbourne. First stop was Bimbadeen Park to collect Adelaide’s travel partner Swiper. Collecting Swiper was the easy part, getting out of Shane’s road proved a little more difficult. For those of you that have been to Shane’s you will know when leaving, the road out is short and steep and at the top is a speed bump like ledge. Well my long, low gooseneck trailer kept getting bellied at the top. After multiple attempts, stopping traffic, opening all the lockers and going a bit bush we managed to get on the road albeit about an hour longer than expected. The rest of the trip to Tarcutta was certainly entertaining while listening to the commentary team of Sit Tight radio.
We were up early Monday morning (1am) to continue the drive to Melbourne. First stop Toolern Vale to drop Adelaide and Swiper at their new digs for the next couple of nights before their flight. Second near miss gooseneck disaster occurred when driving down the drive to realise the turn around was not going to allow my 19 metre gooseneck to turn around. I then had the task of reversing back up a hill through a narrow gateway. I managed to keep a lid on my frustration and temper and didn’t take out any fence posts or gateways. It was then a mad dash back to Werribee for the 2* show jumping course walk.
First of my riders to jump was Jordyn and Potsie and they delivered a great 4 fault round to jump up the leader board and finish in 16th place and gain their 2* CCI MER. Madi and Toppy had a couple down which was still an amazing achievement considering it was only their 4th 2* competition ever and finished in 13th place. Although I’m sure both girls would have liked to have finished further up the pointy end of the leader board, they both produced great results on horses that they have produced themselves. Well done Madi & Jordyn.
It was great to watch the CCI3* and CIC3* in their final show jumping phase and to have both classes won by two awesome ladies was just superb. Congratulations Amanda and Jade. It was also great to see the young women putting in some great results Jess Rae, Gemma Tinney and Katie Taliana in the CCI3* and the really young guns Olivia Barton and Thea Horsley in the CIC3*. Looking forward to seeing what the future holds for these great riders.
I then may have snuck off for a quick nana nap before heading back to Toolern Vale to ride Adelaide. The whole family Matthew, William, Izzy and myself stayed at Werribee for the night so we could catch up with our good friends the Gielen’s before they headed back to Perth and I headed to the UK. Waking up the following morning to see Werribee Equestrian Park look like a ghost town it was hard to imagine there had been a massive event on.
We had our last family day together and decided that we should go to the Werribee Zoo. William had been multiple times; I hadn’t been for- well a long time! It was very interesting and I think they do a great job reintroducing endangered species. We did some last minute shopping at the Werribee Plaza before heading to our apartment for the evening.
Come Wednesday morning it was time to say goodbye to the family. It was sad waving goodbye and watching them all leave in the big gooseneck. I was still in shock that Adelaide and I were about to get on a plane bound for the UK and embark on an adventure of a lifetime!
Stay tuned for part 2 of flying high...
The Crazy Countdown!
Oh my gosh the count down begins with only 7 sleeps to go!
Life continues to be very hectic whilst trying to organising for our departure next Wednesday night.
Last night our Campaign Aachen / Tryon online auction went live. Thank you to every single person who has donated gifts and prizes to make this online auction possible. I would also like to thank Claire Earle, Georgie Lorson and my super groom / personal assistant Izzy Dunne for putting this auction together in such a short time. Please make sure you check the auction on Nominate. The link is available on my website at www.christinebateseventing.com under the 'donations’ drop down menu. You can also clink on the link https://www.nominate.com.au/auction/default.aspx?AuctionID=45#i the great thing about the auction is there is something for everyone and its not just all horsey stuff.
In other exciting news Adelaide and I have been selected as the first recipient of a new and exciting travel assistance from Sarah Nevile. Many of you may not know Sarah personally but most will be very familiar to Sarah’s distinct voice. Sarah has been the commentator at Melbourne International Three Day Event for many years and is an avid supporter of Australian eventing. Not only is this new travel assistance helping Adelaide and I chase our dreams overseas it will now also help other Elite riders in the future wanting to travel and compete internationally. Sarah intends to support an elite Australian based Event Rider every 2 years, her goal is to help ease the financial burden on the rider trying to gain WEG or Olympic selection. Thank you, Sarah for your amazing and un expected financial support of Adelaide and I as well as the continued growth of horses and riders within Australia in the future.
Thank you to Equestrian Australia, through the International Competition Development Fund and the High Performance Program for the unbelievable support. We could never have put this trip together so quickly without your help of the team; Chris Webb, Gina Haddad and Michelle Graham. Adelaide and I are so appreciative of the financial assistance you have given to us in our quest to gain selection at Aachen and Tryon. The administrative supportive has also played a huge part in organising this trip in such a short space of time. Thank you to the super team of vets Nathan Anthony and Robin Bell for making sure that Adelaide is fighting fit and ready to perform at his best. Great Team Effort, thanks again Equestrian Australia.
We had an awesome two days at the Bates Ultimate Training Clinics with many new faces coming and taking advantage of some great coaching and getting in those important show-jumping and cross country training rounds. Although it did feel like we really all should have been on the ski slopes in our ski clothes with the chilly winds, it was still a fun filled day with lots of happy, smiley riders. The Bates clinic also helped to raise just over $2000 for the Campaign Aachen / Tryon fundraising.
Well I’m off now to go and do more packing, weighing and labelling.
Will update you all again soon.
Christine & Adelaide.
Well Adelaide’s flight to the UK has been confirmed as the 13th June 2018. Adelaide and I will be flying with Equestrian Australia’s recently partnered horse freight company Equine International Airfreight. Our flight will be departing from Melbourne.
As you can imagine there’s still lots to organise! Oh let the packing begin for both horse and human… but it will have to wait until tomorrow as today Adelaide and I are off to the lovely Wallaby Hill Farm for the NSW Squad School. For some last minute lessons with Prue Barrett and Rod Brown. I always look forward to our squad training days at WHF, beautiful property, amazing arenas and surfaces to ride on and of course great coaches.
Tomorrow will be gallop day at the lovely Hannover Lodge managed by Hinnerk Huppe. Adelaide and I are very lucky to be able to use the hill/sand gallop track which is conveniently next door to Willow Park.
Friday will be busy getting the Bates Equestrian Cross Country course ready for our Bates Ultimate Training Clinic’s that is being held over the weekend to help raise money for our trip to the UK. Lessons and training rounds will be coached by myself and the wonderful Sandy Lucas.
Next week will be packing, packing and some more packing. Some how I will also try to get to Melbourne 3DE to coach students that are competing in the CCI1* & 2*. I will also fit in driving Adelaide to Melbourne for his flight and try have some last minute family time.
The last 10 days have been pretty crazy and I already feel like I’m living out of a suitcase. The team had 3 days in Tamworth competing. I didn’t ride but drove the gooseneck, groomed for William, coached lots of students and cooked for the extended family. Home one day and then headed to Perth for 3 days of coaching. Arrived in Perth to find out Matthew Bates had taken an acrobatic tumble off a breaker, Matt managed to land on his feet only to have the breaker stand on his foot and break it. Matthew is now out of action for 6 weeks.
Had a great three days coaching and managed to miss all the wet weather that Perth received. We also had a great fundraising night which helped raise nearly $1 600. It was great to catch up with so many people from the west coast especially those friends that have been following my career right from the start. Yes there were a few stories told about my youth.
Back home for a few days and on Monday we headed to Orange for Williams Cross Country running schools competition. William ran super despite having a cold and finished in 10th place which now sees him go to the next competition at Eastern Creek on the 14th June. Which is a little sad as Adelaide and I will be up in the air somewhere and will miss seeing William run.
The Campaign Aachen/Tryon fundraising is still in full force with the online auction nearly ready to launch. Thank you to the amazing people that have donated gifts for this auction. The auction will be hosted by nominate and will be live soon. If you would like to donate a prize or gift for the online auction please contact either Claire Earle firstname.lastname@example.org or Georgie Lorson email@example.com
The GoFundMe fundraising page is up and running and many people have already donated. Thank you to those people, your generosity is greatly appreciated. If you would like to donate please click on the link below https://au.gofundme.com/christinebatesWEGcampaign
We are also in the process of setting up an Australian Sports Foundation fundraising page which will enable donors to make a tax deductable donation. We will let you all know when it’s ready to use.
If you don’t wish to donate to my fundraising cause that’s OK. But I would personally love it if you would consider donating to another great charity in honour of a very special person that is no longer with us- Caitlyn Fischer. Caitlyn’s parents Mark and Ailsa are supporting a great charity called Tabitha Australia in loving memory of their daughter. For more information on this very deserving cause please head over to http://www.tabithaaustralia.org.au/.
Looking forward to keeping you all updated over the next crazy two weeks!
Third time lucky
Well… Some rather exciting news from Bates eventing with Adelaide passing the vet examinations with flying colours. Adelaide is well and truly in the best form of his life and with his current successes we are very excited to steam ahead with our WEG endeavours.
We are well into the planning stages now and have just finished revamping the website which will continue to be updated throughout our journey. Funding for the trip is also well and truly underway with the setup of our GoFundMe page (link on our donations page). A online silent auction will shortly be set up which will offer an array of great items up for grabs, so stay tuned for that one! We are also looking into running a combined cross country clinic with Sandy Lucas at Willow Park before Adelaide and I’s departure. Any donation small or large is greatly appreciated and will contribute towards getting Adelaide based in the UK. If you would like to donate a prize for the silent online auction please contact Claire Earle Mb 0439 028 399 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Georgie Lorson Mb: 0410 550 876 or Georgie.email@example.com
There is still much more planning to do which includes confirming Adelaide’s official flight date out of Australia but we are all starting to get a bit excited over here at Bates Equestrian!
We can also confirm that Adelaide still has no idea about the trip and we plan on keeping it that way until he is on the tarmac! Shoosh Don’t tell Adelaide.
Shhh don't tell Adelaide!
My first blog and I'm not really sure where to begin. Since my last post you could say life has been a bit of a roller coaster however to tell this story we need to start at Tamworth CIC3* in August 2017. Entered on Ned O’Reilly and Adelaide hill there were plenty of emotions heading into this event, as it was my first eventing start back since April 2016. To say that it didn't go to plan would be an understatement. After an incident in the warm arena with an official I did my dressage tests on both horses and then promptly withdrew them. Disappointed and feeling deflated this was not the comeback to eventing I had planned. 2016 was a year that has and will forever change who I am and my outlook on life, the tragic deaths of Olivia Inglis and our very own working pupil Caitlyn Fischer made me loose hope for the sport I had once loved so deeply. This alongside the untimely injury that stopped Adelaide's Campaign to Rio was very hard to deal with, I was no longer sure I wanted to be an elite eventing rider or coach let alone go to an event. I can honestly say I found rock bottom, and I can tell you now it was not a pretty place to be.
Luckily some pretty special people stepped in and helped me rebuild myself. Prue Barrett kindly told me to stop putting myself under so much pressure wise words that I use everyday in my outlook on life. Equestrian Australia offered me support with Behavioural strategist Warren Kennaugh who helped me understand that I must learn to operate differently as my old way of life was not going to work for me anymore as so many things had change. The new motto was accept the new different. I made some big changes and focused a little bit more on me. Some days I hated the new different but over time I could see the benefits.
For my next start I dropped both the horses back to the CNC2.5* at Sydney Eventing. They went well finishing 2nd & 5th. I then felt I was ready to go 3* again, I wanted to do it and prove to myself that I was able to get this box ticked off. We were soon heading to Melbourne CIC3*. Both horses did good dressage tests and ok show jumping rounds. Adelaide and Ned were both awesome XC just picking up some time, this meant we finished out of the top placing’s but I’m ok with that. I left Melbourne with the attitude one event at a time.
The next big event was Adelaide CIC3* with Adelaide Hill. For the first time I asked Matthew and William to stay at home. I wanted to just be a rider and focusing on the goal I had to set- Winning. Adelaide was super all week and we managed to achieve our goal and stand proudly in first place on the podium. Adelaide had finally won at Adelaide.
For the first time in a long time I sat down and made a plan. A plan that I thought was realistic and achievable. I decided to aim Adelaide for Sydney 3DE CCI3*. I worked out which events he would run at in the lead up to the event so he would be in peak fitness. I wanted him to go well and I wanted the qualification for WEG. I was confident that if we could perform well in all three phases that we would be hard to beat.
I can honestly say that it was not until after Sydney 3DE that I considered ourselves competitive for the selection onto the Australian Team for WEG. After planning the trip of a lifetime 2 years ago and it all going so wrong I had come to the conclusion that the dream of taking a horse overseas to compete was probably not ever on the cards for me again and that was ok. I love what I do and to come and win again at Sydney was a huge emotional challenge.
Adelaide and I have had a fantastic run of events with winning our last three CIC3*'s and most recently the CCI3* at Sydney. With this in mind we are now looking to take Adelaide to the UK & Europe. I feel that this will give Adelaide the best preparation possible for WEG. At this stage we are planning to do Barbury CIC and hopefully make the Aussie Team for Aachen CIC3* - Nations Cup.
So this week Adelaide will under go several veterinarian examinations to make sure that he has pulled up from Sydney 3DE feeling 100% fit. As I certainly don't want to embark on another fundraising campaign to head overseas if Adelaide is not up to performing at his best. It would not be fair to Adelaide nor my team mates if he was not in peak condition.
By the end of this week a decision will be made on whether we begin a campaign trail for WEG. Stay tuned.
Crazy eventer life.
Unfortunately my plans to travel to the UK with Adelaide Hill did not eventuate due to Adelaide
receiving a minor injury at Equestriad. We had hoped with treatment that we might have been able to continue with our Campaign to Rio. Although we believe the treatment to have been beneficial to Adelaide’s recovery, time was against us. For the future of Adelaide and our fellow Australian team members we have withdrawn from team selection.
I’m extremely overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity and support over the last few months not only in the fundraising efforts for Campaign Rio but in the love, support and beautiful messages after the tragic accident of Caitlyn Fischer. Understandably it has been an extremely difficult time for our family.
We are currently in the process of contacting everyone personally that has been involved in our
fundraising efforts. We will be offering refunds to those that had made donations through the
mycause page. We are currently liaising with Equestrian Australia in relation to the donations made through the Australian Sports Foundation.
The money raised at the Campaign Rio fundraising weekend is being kept in the Christine Bates -
Campaign Rio bank account untouched until we have contacted everyone involved.
Thanks again for the amazing support.
Christine & Adelaide.