"I hope you will go to church every day to pray for better wetter," that is how Dr. Ulf Möller, sales manager at Hof Kasselmann in Hagen, greets me. The 2005 European Dressage Championships kick off tomorrow with the trot up at Hof Kasselmann in Hagen, Germany
, but Eurodressage was already on the scene today to witness the arrival of the horses at the show grounds for the training day prior to the show.
I left my home in Belgium at 5.20 AM to beat German rush hour traffic and arrived at Kasselmann's at 8.00 'o clock. The road to Hagen was one highlighted by perpetual construction works on the highway in Germany and rain, rain, rain. This brought back memories of my last visit to Hagen, in June 2004 for the German Professional Dressage Riders Championships. One year ago, it poured in Hagen, and by the looks of it, it will pour with rain today.
My first impressions of the European Championships at Hof Kasselmann were those of "under construction". I was amazed to see the main arena so beautifully laid out. The footing is perfect, with sand and rubber chips in it. Beautiful flowers and bushes decorated the sides of the ring, two huge blue grandstands are on the long and short side of the arena, and several covered tents hold more stands and the VIP lounge. "Not bad for two weeks of work, don't you think," Möller commented. I'm impressed! The arena will be perfect to photograph, so I'm even more looking forward to the show.
The horses are stabled in four temporary tents, but they have nice dry stalls and it's quiet in the corridors. Grooms are busy grooming horses and cleaning tack. Physiotherapists are giving the dressage stars accupuncture point massages, and several magnet blankets hum on the horses in every corridor.
Almost all riders work their horses twice today. Some horses only need to be trained for twenty minutes, others get an intense schooling of two hours in three different rings. In the afternoon, riders are allowed to walk their horses in the main arena outside the ring. The Dutch and English team practise the jog by running their horses in hand a few times.
The trade fair is still empty. The white tents are set up, but none of the shops are there yet. Only one typical Bratwurst stand is open and several riders take their first Bratwurst mit Pommes Frites lunch of the week there.
The busiest people at the show are not the riders, but the PSI staff setting up the show. Volunteers, family members of PSI staff, the staff itself and professionals are constantly moving about getting everything in order. Chairs, flowers, plants, beverages are moved from lorries to the tents. Everyone and everything is on the move getting ready for tomorrow.
Latest tidbits are the starting order of the Dutch team: 1. Laurens van Lieren, 2. Edward Gal, 3. Anky van Grunsven and 4. Sven Rothenberger. British team rider Emma Hindle still has not decided whether she's going to ride Wie Weltmeyer or Lancet. Both horses are in excellent shape and it's proving to be a tough choice for her. The Danish Blue Hors lorry got stuck in the mud and had to be towed in the right parking spot by a tractor.
The vet check is Wednesday afternoon and the Grand Prix starts on Thursday.
Eurodressage On The Scene of the 2005 European Championships