From Kronberg to Bishop Burton, a World of Difference

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 23:38
2010 European Pony Championships

It's 22.56 PM now (CET) and I'm sitting at the Ramada Jarvis in Willerby, the official show hotel for the 2010 European Pony Championships in Bishop Burton, UK. It's Wednesday evening and I traveled to England with Belgian professional equestrian photographer Dirk Caremans to cover the Pony Championships.

It has been a marathon month so far with consecutive coverage of Aachen, the European Junior and Young Riders Championships, the European Pony Championships and next week the World Young Horse Championships. I haven't had a good night sleep since 14 July as it's been work non stop since mid July. I'm not complaining because I've experienced an amazing month, but I would love to lie in for a day, something that won't happen until at least 10 August 2010.

Aachen is the biggest and best dressage competition of the year. An international championship can not beat the Aachen experience, where the press is being treated like royalty (free champagne (Taittinger) all week) and the quality of riding is monumental. Coming home on Sunday evening from such a big show does not mean reclining in your sofa. No!! It involves organizing 5000 photos, writing at least up to five extensive articles and we all know how long they can be on Eurodressage!! I'm not beating around the bush but I'm certainly spending as much words on an article as a politician does on arguing in parliament.

On Wednesday 20 July 2010 I got up at 4 AM in the morning to drive to Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff's Schafhof in Kronberg, near Frankfurt. It was only a 2.35 hour drive but I managed to get a speeding ticket at Limburg an der Lahn for driving 20 kilometres too fast. I think I had a blond moment, not seeing the "flitsers" above the motorway.

The show at Schafhof definitely goes down in my personal history book as one of the nicest competitions I ever attended in my 12 years of "on the scene" show coverage. It was a big international competition with a warm, homey, comfortable feeling. The venue can not be any prettier than this. A 300 year old farm with a huge, brand new villa which exudes neo-classicism. Furthermore there is a horticultural garden with rose bushes everywhere!

Linsenhoff herself was gentle and kind, hugging riders when they won medals, dancing on stage at the Nations' cup party and celebrating the Championships as much as she could. She said hello to every competitor and waved goodbye to every single competitor until the he last person left her premises. The show ring was one of the prettiest to take photos of with spectators restricted to bleachers on only two sides of the arena. The short side at A was left intact and it was a photographer's paradise as we were able to take pictures with lovely green bushes, flowers and a stone bench in the back drop. It doesn't get any prettier than that!!

The bigger was the shock when I arrived in Bishop Burton today and saw the dressage arena where I have to take photos the next few days. The arena is totally fenced in in between buildings and the backdrop is a lovely wooden wall. Hallelujah.

I drove to Dirk Caremans' home near Antwerp Belgium at 7.30 AM this morning. We left his house at 9.30 AM to make it on time to Calais for the train to take us to England. While Dirk and I were chatting on the road, our trip was stalled by numerous traffic jams and road constructions near London. Our trip was supposed to take seven hours, but we ended up driving almost ten hours.

Bishop Burton College is set in very, very rural country side: glowing hills and tons of rye fields which absolute prettify the scenery, but once we arrived on the college show ground, we saw cold stone buildings, hardly any crowds and we were literally chased away by an almost unbearably horrible stench of pigsty coming from the college's "pig unit". Welcome to Bishop Burton!!

The people in the press centre were super kind and welcoming and helped us out straight away. The internet connection is not yet optimal but we're sure this will be fixed by tomorrow. The second group of the team championship test competes tomorrow and Eurodressage promises to bring the biggest and best coverage from this event!

Good night.

Related Links
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2010 European Pony Championships 
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2010 European Junior/Young Riders Championships