Musings from Aachen CHIO 2013, Part One
6 years ago ilse Comments Off on Musings from Aachen CHIO 2013, Part One
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.
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.
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.