So, here we are, the day we take Ryan to Leige Airport for his flight to the U.S. The last few days have been full of pandemonium with paperwork for Ryan, bits and bobs required for him, competing, parading Quadrille at Newmarket and just general riding, teaching and caring for the horses at home. However, Monday morning we were all set to start the journey we have been planning since January.
The plan on paper was:
8:30am Leave Padbury
12pm Arrive at Dover and get on ferry
3pm Arrive Leige Airport
5pm Leave to get back to Calais
8pm Ferry back to Dover
11pm In my bed fast asleep
I decided to let Ryan have a bit of field time in the morning, so he could have a final play with Gav. After turning out the other horses, I bought Ryan in to have his last ride at home; he was superb.
Everyone at home was saying their final goodbyes to the baby pony and saying how much they would miss him. Ryan has become a real character on the yard, and it is hard to believe that in a few weeks I will no longer see his adorable bay face over the stable door.
My dad decided to come along for the ride. He called it bonding time, I called it "fitting." Dad was with me when we first found Ryan and it seemed lovely for him to come along to see him off.
After a quick brush and making him ready for traveling, we loaded him (my dad and I) and climbed in the lorry. A final check before we left;
Dad: Horse passport?
Dad: Paperwork for Ryan?
Dad: Your passport, wallet and phone?
Me: oh, passport, I will just go and grab it....
Off I went to the house to get my passport. Four hours later and the house and stable yard turned upside down, I was still without my passport. Very long story short, and with a fair few tears and panics, I realized that I had left my passport in my car, which was at the hire place for horse boxes. (Three weeks prior to this my lorry decided to blow up and has sat in said mechanics trying to get fixed.) The only problem I had was that my car was 2 hours away.
Dad and I, plus Ryan hopped into the truck and went and retrieved said passport en route to Dover to catch the ferry. The journey to Dover was easy, the crossing was good and although we got to Calais at 8:30pm we made very good time by getting to Leige by 11:15pm.
Fifteen minutes later we met Kim who was in charge of flying the horses. Ryan was one of four horses traveling to the U.S., along with a racehorse, eventers, show jumpers and some all rounders. After an hour and a half of getting things sorted--Ryan's tack bags being security checked, the boxes being prepped--it was time to load Ryan. He walked on like a pro and stood, waiting for the slightly opinionated "orange" horse to decide whether or not they wanted to go to the U.S.
At this point I had to wave goodbye to my baby pony knowing he was in the best hands and that they would take care of him. (Although I did send war and peace with him in terms of care instructions, feeds, rugs, etc.)
Now for the journey back to the UK.....dad drove most of the way to allow me to sleep as I had done all of the driving up to this point. It was all going well until we were 5km out of Calais. There have been several issues with migrants trying to enter the UK from the port of Calais. I couldn't believe it, when at 4am in the morning we were faced with at least 60/70 migrants blocking traffic and desperately trying to climb into the back of the trucks. We must have queued for over an hour and a half and I was thankful that we didn't have Ryan on board so we could come back as a car, as opposed to freight, which would have required is sitting in a stationary queue.
While sitting in the queuing traffic I received a text from Kim to say that they had taken off and Ryan was fine, which put my mind at rest.
The effect of the migrants could be seen in the port as there were no/very little freight lorries. A slight communication problem lead to us having to do laps of the port to obtain the correct ticket and to be checked that no one had climbed in the back of the truck. Finally, on the ferry, dad and I found breakfast, ready to tackle the M25 on a weekday morning. (In the UK the M25 is nicknamed "the worlds biggest car park" as traffic does not move at peak times.)
So....how did the day pan out?
8:30am Load Ryan
8:33am Passport Panic
8:50am Unload Ryan
12:10pm Locate passport, re load Ryan
2:10pm Pick up Passport onto Dover
4pm Arrive at Dover
5:25pm Ferry leaves Dover
8:10pm Arrive in Calais
11:15pm Arrive Leige
1:15am Ryan is loaded
1:35am Dad and I leave airport
4am Join Calais queuing traffic
6:15am Got through traffic, through Customs, lorry is checked
6:45am On boat
7am Back on UK soil
10am Home, back to work, start riding horses!
Ryan is due to land in the U.S. at midday and I feel happy that all should be well and fine. I can't wait to fly out on Thursday and meet him in Kentucky! A massive thank you to Kim and Pedens bloodstock for organizing all of this, and a beyond massive thank you to my sponsors at Amlin for helping me and supporting me on my journey.