I arrived in Lexington a day ahead of Ryan so I could begin to find my way around. The first day was spent finding the stable and locating horse feed and water/feed buckets for him. Driving on the other side of the road isn’t a problem for me. I am, however, learning how to deal with the width of the roads and how many lanes of traffic there are.
It took me the best part of five hours to locate three different stores, it took me six attempts to find Walmart. The main issue I currently have is that my navigation system is stuck in Chinese. The buttons to change it are broken, so, for now, I will carry on being shouted at in Chinese when I go wrong!
On Saturday am I woke up to frost on the floor, FROST! The days leading unto my traveling the temperatures were 25-26 degrees Celsius (77-78 degrees Fahrenheit), so you can imagine my surprise to see the floor being white. Ryan arrived at 7:30am, a little unsure about life, and cold, but generally OK. Having settled him in his stable, I went to unload his stuff. No disrespect to the truckers, but when I saw them lifting the bags very easily out of the truck I knew something was wrong. I had packed three bags, all quite full, to the point of me not being able to lift them very easily in Belgium. When only two bags appeared, I knew there was trouble. Very quickly I opened the bags to find that my tack was missing. Cue: panic, phone calls, fear and a few tears. For Saturday the tack was not an issue as I only hand walked Ryan, but come Sunday and moving forward, I would need help. It soon became apparent that I was missing rugs, bandages, boots and various pieces of tack equipment. With temperature dropping to -2 C (28 degrees F) overnight, I became very fearful of being able to keep Ryan happy and warm as he is currently fully clipped in preparations for the former warm weather (where that has gone I don’t know).
I must say that during the next few hours everyone that I have at home as a support team were beyond amazing. Before I knew it there was Plan A, B, C, D and E in place to help me out. Thankfully, I have met some truly amazing, caring and wonderful people who have helped me out by lending me tack. Most notably has to be Cherise Gasper. Cherise is a Grand Prix rider and has trained with the likes of Carl Hester and Robert Dover, along with my former boss and mentor, Monica Theodorescu.
For some unknown reason, I carried a spare bridle on the plane in my hand luggage. Who knew I would actually need it! The agents in the UK have been amazing and working very hard throughout the weekend trying to locate all of the missing items (I cannot thank them enough, and also putting up with my numerous phone calls and texts.
On Sunday morning Cherise took me to Keenland to see the morning trading of the racehorses, which was truly amazing and inspirational to watch. I loved being able to discuss each horse and see the different ways in training and riding, even when on the track. It was a sight to see and I loved every minute. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the horses work and seeing the varying types, stride lengths and abilities. It was also good to be able to compare the U.S. Thoroughbreds to the UK Thoroughbreds and pros and cons to each stamp of horse.
I have also visited the Kentucky Horse Park, where we will move to on Wednesday. IT’S HUGE! Walking around a place dedicated to the Thoroughbred is amazing and I cannot wait to start meeting everyone and for the competition to start.
Ryan has settled well and is eating well. He has worked very well for the past few days. I cannot believe that at 4 years old, he has been traveling for 5 to 6 days, not been out in a field or on a walker and he let me get straight on and he worked impeccably. He has traveled 5,000 miles and still shows maturity beyond his years and is still sweet and wanting fuss and cuddles. It is a true testament to this horse and his up bringing at Bryan Smart Racing that has made him the lovely and willing person that he is.
When I got on the plane in England I made a promise to myself that I would enjoy this experience and try and not come last. After everything that has happened so far, I will be happy if we make it down centerline in one piece! Here is to good hoping!