Last Saturday we started really early to get the horses–Sansiko and Romario–ready to go to the Fehmarn Pferd Festival horse show. They left at 6am, then we longed everyone so that we could follow them to the show on the Island of Fehmarn 2 hours from Börnsen in the Baltic sea. The view of the sea was incredible as we drove in. The sun was glimmering on water dotted with sail boats and kite surfers. Pastures and farmland covered most of the area up to the thin, sandy beach except a few moderate-sized hotel towers and a fleet of wicker cabanas at the resort where we paused to dip our toes in the surprisingly warm water.
We got to the show in time to watch both of Sven Dapper’s tests. This show only has one dressage division over the weekend: the PSG and a I1 Freestyle for those who qualify. Romario was awesome, and he and Sven pulled a “hat-trick,” winning the class for the third time in as many years, this time with over a 70 percent. They did awards in the indoor dressage ring, which they then set up for the Puissance competition.
Puissance is the jumping competition where they build a wall of light, wooden blocks and riders compete to see which horse can jump the highest. The horses and riders were crazy, but it was super fun to watch. The audience was packed. If a horse knocked or brushed the wall he was eliminated until we got to the last combination, jumping over 6’. After the awards gallop, we all cleared out and re-entered from the other end of the ring for the disco party. Yes, they had built a dark curtain and closed off the C end of the indoor ring where they had set up a bar, a dance floor and a stage. All the participants of the show began to arrive, with their friends and family as well as locals and visitors. The women were dressed up and the men wore cologne. A local band played some German rock music as guests trickled in around 10:00. By midnight, the DJ was playing booming techno music with the strobe lights going off and the dance floor packed and spilling out into the rest of the arena. We left before it got too out of control, but the party is known to last far into the morning. That was one of the more unique social experiences I have had at a horse show, but it demonstrates the attitude of equestrian as popular and fun sports to be enjoyed here in Germany.
Sunday we were treated to the continental breakfast at the hotel, which would put any American hotel to shame. There was a variety of muesli and granolas, fresh milk and yogurt, many fruits including local strawberries, lox, meats, fancy cheeses, fresh mango and orange juice, fresh baked European rolls and more. We made our way back to the show in time to watch some jumping and peruse the vendors. Once again, there was a huge selection of tack and other sponsors. There was a semi-permanent tent housing a full restaurant and bar (as well as a TV playing European Championship soccer games, surrounded by men), some freestanding bars, a booth selling local strawberries and ice cream, and a little tent for kids holding arts and crafts events and selling toys and gummy candies.
The freestyle was in the afternoon, and again the stands were packed. Sven and Romario nailed their freestyle and won with over a 75 percent. That made it a double-hat-trick! There was an awards presentation for dressage in the jumping arena right before the highest jumping competition of the weekend, (S***) and there was even a live band playing as awards were accepted. We stayed for a drink and to watch the jumping. As everyone began to slowly gather their things and head out after the jumping awards, there was a “greyhound” race, where people could enter their small dogs to race through a simple lane, usually with the owner calling him from the other end. It worked for the first heat, but I am sure you can imagine the possibilities of loose Jack Russell’s in the jumping field. For the second heat the dogs simply scattered at the start and the handlers spent the rest of the time rounding them up.
We left and were able to get the horses unloaded and everything unpacked before dark (it gets dark at this latitude around 10:30-11:00pm), and were ready to start the day on Monday. Then it was back to work!