Musings from Aachen CHIO 2013, Part One

6 years ago ilse Comments Off on Musings from Aachen CHIO 2013, Part One
Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill enjoy their first win of the show in the CDIO Grand Prix. Even the sunshine made a brief appearance © 2013 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Helen Langehanenberg and Damon Hill NRW enjoy their first win of the show in the CDIO5* Grand Prix. Even the sunshine made a brief appearance © 2013 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

By ILSE SCHWARZ

AACHEN, Germany, June 29–I arrived in Aachen,  at 6.30pm ready to jump right to work and a thought crossed my mind, “Three continents in as many weeks, can my body rise to the challenge?” To be honest, it has been a bit rough, but this is Aachen… one must rise to the occasion! I haven’t been to Aachen CHIO for a few years so it gives me the chance to try to view the show with something of a fresh eye. It is with this attitude that I write this story.

One of the big draws for me  was the chance to see Damon Hill and Helen Langehanenberg compete. I have admired this combination on video, but we all know it is not the same as the real thing. The last time I saw Helen ride was at Verden, on the barely controlled mare Schickeria (Westf, Sir Donnerhall I x Weltmeyer) at the Young Horse World Championships… a far cry from what I expect to see with her Olympic partner.

It turns out that the weather has also become a fairly significant  story in Aachen this year. The Europeans are still anxiously awaiting the arrival of summer. I almost didn’t pack my full length down jacket, I mean it is the end of June. Let me simply say that I have worn it for most of the day, every day. My waterproof jacket is also working overtime.

Umbrellas and rain jackets are essential wardrobe items this year. Steffen and Shannon Peters were well equipped whilst watching Shelly Francis© 2013 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Umbrellas and rain jackets are essential wardrobe items this year. Steffen and Shannon Peters were well equipped while watching Shelly Francis. © 2013 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

Unlike most shows that I am familiar with, the state of the weather has very little to do with attendance. 49 000 spectators on a very dreary Thursday and sold out stands for dressage and showjumping. This brings me to one of many “only in Aachen” events. Each morning as we get off the shuttle and walk into the grounds we are greeted by ticket scalpers, at least the German version of them. They are selling tickets for Sunday, yes, even for the dressage which has been sold out since right after the show in 2012.

Typical crowds amidst the trade show. I have to walk through them every time I make my way from the dressage stadium to the press center This photo could have been taken at any time of day, on any given day of the show regardless of the weather © 2013 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com
Typical crowds amidst the trade show. I have to walk through them every time I make my way from the dressage stadium to the press center. This photo could have been taken at any time, on any given day  regardless of the weather. © 2013 Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com

On a final “atmospheric” note, before moving on to give some insights into horses and riders that delighted and surprised me, I think I have reached my daily (make that yearly) Bratwurst quota already. Although the food here is quite varied, there are a wealth of bratwurst stands…so the lines (queues) are a lot shorter! I should say that, as media, we are able to eat wonderful lunches. But dinner is a bit sketchy and we have to be self sufficient.

Dinner CHIO style, and of course it was washed down with a German beer © 2013
Dinner CHIO style, and of course it was washed down with a German beer © 2013 Ilse Schwarz dressage-news.com