“What can I wear in Germany that won’t scream ‘HELLO, I AM A CLUELESS AMERICAN?” I asked my German friend over the phone last Thursday night. Other things I asked my German friend last Thursday night include:
1. “Are loafers appropriate?”
2. “What about Dubarry boots?”
3. “You really think I’ll be fine driving over there? Stick to the right lane of the Autobahn and out of the way of the Mercedes and BMWs? Ok, got it.”
4. “Can you tell me how to pronounce ‘Munster’ correctly, again?”
5. “Want to hear me say the 10 words I know in German?”
My flight across the pond departs in exactly seven days and at 2:00 this morning, I found myself frantically sorting through a file cabinet in my closet to confirm that my passport was, indeed, exactly where it should have been. All of my accommodations are booked, tickets have been purchased and train fares and routes have been researched. My itinerary for my month-long stay in Germany is outlined in about as much detail as I could possibly manage. I’ve got some good friends who are lined up to ride my two mares for me while I am gone. About the only things left to do are to zip up my suitcase, hop on the plane and try not to lose my passport.
That’s all possibly easier said than done, though, particularly the whole “zipping up the suitcase” part, since I have to somehow stuff a helmet and boots in there, too. But let’s be real—if I have to choose between packing riding gear and clothes for a week due to space restrictions, it’s an easy decision. I only apologize to my German friends who will have to bear witness to the Lady Godiva reenactment.
Before I go any further, let me fill you in on the whole story behind this trip. I am a young Adult Amateur dressage rider and I am Dressage Today’s managing editor. I’m a recent eventer-to-dressage-rider convert and the proud mom of two wonderful mares named Kat and Fenna. Kat is my 24-year-old Thoroughbred event horse and has been my partner for the past 10 years. Fenna, a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood is the newest addition to our little family and she’s adapted well to the her new role as my teacher, helping me earn my USDF bronze medal. So far, we’re one third of the way there as we just earned our First Level qualifying scores two weekends ago!
I have lived all over the United States during various points of my life and I’ve been lucky enough to go outside of the country on a few occasions. However, I’m not someone who frequently jet sets across the globe or takes off for Europe without a second thought. I’ve been very comfortable living my life here in the Washington, D.C. area, bouncing between the DT office, the barn and my cozy little apartment. I like routine and I like certainty and I’m the kind of person who gets flustered when the grocery store stops carrying my favorite kind of raspberry yogurt because that requires me to step outside of my comfort zone. Oh, and I hate flying in airplanes.
But there’s a little part of me that’s aching for adventure. And as someone who reads and writes about dressage all day, I’ve developed a craving for some time in Germany, the mecca of the dressage world. So I decided that while routine and familiarity are very comfortable and easy, if there’s ever a time to go have an adventure, that time is now. I take very much to heart John Shedd’s words “A ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.”
Hell, I’m 24 years old, I’m not married, I don’t have kids and I have a flexible job with a very cool, understanding boss who will let me work from abroad. I’ve even got a substantial amount of German blood in me and I have some good friends from Germany who are welcoming me with open arms.
So out of my “safe harbor” I go, on a mission to simply learn as much about dressage culture in Germany as I can. I booked a plane ticket that will take me directly to Hamburg and my first stop will be visiting one of DT’s very own writers and bloggers, Annie Morris, who is located just outside of Hamburg at Hof Bornsen, the base of Sven Dapper and Judy Allmeling. From there, I will head south west to the famous Hannoveraner Verband Elite Sport Horse Auctions at Verden, hopefully with a visit to Warendorf somewhere in there as well. I’ll then head further south toward the town of Munster, where I’ll be meeting with some riders and trainers and then heading to meet with some of our friends at Cavallo, Passier, Herm Sprenger and Uvex to learn more about the history of their companies and products. I’m also planning a visit to some friends in Lubeck and trying to leave a little room for spontaneous adventure in between.
Be sure to follow my travels in my blog here, on DT’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/DressageToday/), and on Instagram (@DressageToday).
Bis später! See you later!