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.
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.
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...
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.