The Road to Rio – Landing in Europe!


We made it to Europe and we survived our first week without needing too many brownies! Ali and Rosie had an uneventful direct flight from Miami to Amsterdam. I flew commercial and of course had delays and wound up in the middle seat of a packed plane. If you want a career with horses, be prepared for sleepless nights. Also be prepared for cancelled dates with the James Dean who asked you out (friends and family will extend the invitation but learn quickly to be surprised if you do actually make it), and sour patch kids being considered a meal (they’re made with fruit…flavor).
The weather in Belgium leading up to our trip had been VERY cold according to my standards so it was pleasant surprise to walk out and not need 2 pairs of pants and a winter jacket! Despite my exhaustion, I picked up our rental car and made the 1 hour and 45 minute drive to Retie by myself. I was a little nervous at the thought of driving in a new country alone but my polite GPS made it easy (she told me please before she gave a direction). Although, I’m still not sure what all the road signs mean. It was great to be able to see the beautiful, now lush country side.
audi car at a barn
One of the Grooms cars. Riding in style this summer!
It however has been an adjustment to be somewhere English is not the predominate language spoken or written and the culture is different. Fortunately I am not a picky eater so it was time to get adventurous as I could not understand a menu to save my life! I have since downloaded some “how to speak Dutch for dummies” type books and may actually know a word or two by the end of summer. Google also has been my friend when I can’t decipher a word to save my life!
Rosie and Ali arrived at the farm late Friday afternoon and we quickly got him settled in. All he wanted to do was roll in his freshly bedded stall, typical Rosie.
horse sleeping in shavings and hay
Rosie taking a siesta the morning after his arrival.
horse leaning on stall chain to get carrots
Rosie helping himself to some carrots (of course I take a picture instead of shooing him away)
stables in belgium with stone courtyard
The courtyard at Stud Farm de Begijnhoeve
I started off my week trying to catch up on lost sleep (past and future, key word trying) and organizing the 7 boxes of horse gear we brought so they are more user friendly day to day. The team is arriving at different times so some people were here before us and some will come later in the month. Marlena and Mook, who groom for Shelly Francis, were the first Grooms here. I have become their “chauffeur” since they are too young to drive the rental car. During our time together, we have been commiserating over the large group of children and adults who run through the hotel screaming until 11pm. We also laugh probably too much and it may be caused by the large amounts of sugar we are surviving on. Cookie butter has become a staple along with peanut M&Ms. Dinners consist of a lot of lasagna and fries. So far, we have a great group this summer!
food in belgium with french fries
You have to eat your fries with mayo in Belgium.
Ali has been getting Rosie stretched and geared up for the 5* at Compiegne. Our amazing vet, Carolyn (CW), also made the trip over to check in on everyone shortly after our arrival. She is a VERY essential member of “team Rosie”. Rosie loves CW because he knows she is there to help him.
outdoor dressage arena in europe
Ali and Rosie schooling in the outdoor
rider giving horse a sugar cube from the saddle
Sugar cubes for Rosie
The Kundrun’s, who sponsor Ali, recently bought her a new young horse who met us this week at the barn. Her name is Grazia, which is grace in Italian so I had been wanting to call her “Gracie” since before I met her. She is a total sweetheart and I quickly started calling her Gracie Lou Freebush, from Miss Congeniality. Sandra Bullock is essential a horse girl in that movie, always a mess (we’re always covered in hay, shavings, horse kisses, etc.) Gracie is one of my new favorites and we’re all excited for her future!
selfie with gracie
Gracie Lou and I staying warm together when it got chilly over the weekend.
We are all now packing to head to Compiegne in the morning. 3:30am wake up call! Go Team USA!!