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Curlies arrive in France!!
June 16th, 2004
Our two Curlies, SS San Antonio Stroll and Sassy were in quarantine for a month, passed all of their vet tests and ready to head to FRANCE!! We also took Christineís thoroughbred, Sheba, to LUX and she went on to England! Here is the story of my trip.
4:00 PMLeave work and head home.
5:00 PMStart loading the horses, put their boots on and load up the hay and water for the trip. Get Nancyís new saddle to give to her in Germany!
6:00Head off to Calgary!
10:00Arrive at Calgary International airport. Check in with Don and get all the paperwork in order and faxed off to LUX.
11:00CFIA veterinarian, Paul, arrives and clears the horses. Start loading!! Drive to the loading area, unload the horses from the trailer and load them into the box stall.
Tony was awesome. What a trusting boy. The ramp is a bit unsteady, but he just follows Sassy right in. The stall is then moved with a forklift out onto the tarmac. It is then slid onto the scissor jack and lifted up to the door of the plane.
It is then slide into the belly of the plane through the side door and a set of rollers electronically position the crate exactly where it should be for the flight.
The attendants then buckle and strap it down securely for the flight. Everyone looks great. And calm. This always surprises me, but Ė We are dealing with Curlies here!!
12:30 AMReady to fly. The horses are all settled in, hay nets all hung, drank their fill of water prior to take off. Immediately after take off and during the flight I go down to check on them. About an hour into the flight I will see if they want some water, check the hay nets and fill them as needed.
Itís a very small opening into the stall, about one meter high by a half meter wide, plus there is only about a half meter of room between the stall and the next crate. Tight fit.
During the flight I walk up to see the pilot, Ron, and look through the front window. This feels strange looking out into nothing from the front of the plane. Quite a different feeling to looking out the side window. The horses travel very, very well. Even Sheba is calm for the flight, the relaxed demeanor of the Curlies letting her know there is nothing to fear. The horses are tied in the stall just in case they decide to turn around.
9 AM(5 PM LUX time) Arrive with the Curly horses and everyone is ecstatic!!
The horses are unloaded from the Boeing 747. I stay with the horses until they are transported to the quarantine barn. All of our Curlies have remained very calm through the whole process, and Tony and Sassy were no exception. Due to their calm demeanor Sheba was also very steady.
Nancy is there to meet us and receive her saddle, but no Sophie!! Linda and Mel are waiting with the van to take Sheba to England.
A fork lift is used to transport the horses in the stall from the plane to the quarantine area.
Here the horses must be unloaded from the crate and then placed into the stalls for the vet to check them. Generally it only takes half an hour for the vet to clear the horses. Lots of activity getting everyone organized.
Finally Sophie, Yann, (her husband) and their two children, Susanne and Ivan, arrive at 10 PM with their CAR and trailer!! Sassy loads exceptionally well into the little two horse trailer. Wasnít sure if she would, as she had never been in such a small trailer before.
3 PM(11 PM LUX time) Head out to France with the horses! Interesting trip, lots and lots of toll booths along the way.
Go around Paris and head south to Cre Sur Loir, which is close to Bordeaux France.
10 PM( 6 AM France time) ARRIVE!! We are here!!
30 hours after we left the stables!! The dogs are running and barking, the ducks are quaking and roosters crowing , the horses are whinnying to each other, the children are sleeping (as I wish I was!) and everyone is bustling around preparing for the horses.
This is a picture of Sophieís other horses checking out the new arrivals.
Not 2 minutes after the horses were turned loose they were running and bucking all over their new found home.
12:48 PM( 8:48 AM France time) We crack a bottle of champagne that Sophie has been saving for this very moment. Everyone is so happy that the horses have arrived.
Visitors are already stopping by to meet the new additions to the family.
The house is 200 years old! Wow, such character in this warm, inviting home.
My room (their room) is so quaint and there are windows everywhere letting in the warm summer sun.
I can see the horses right from the bedroom window!
The ceilings are low and the door is heavy. The house is built from huge square, hand chiseled timbers and the authentic stone fireplace in the living room was used for baking bread. The floor is very old marble and the walls are decorated with historic treasures that Sophie has collected over the years.
There are two Bouveir Bernois dogs, which are a Swiss breed, on the farm. They are wonderful dogs. I would love to bring one home with me to Canada. Very affectionate and yet protective and guardians of the children.
So it was off to bed for all of us at 9 AM and we slept to about 2 PM.
Sophie, her children and I then headed off to tour Le Lude, an ancient castle that is still being used by royalty today!
The children run and play along the river and through the hedge maze. Then we go over to the military riding school, Manage Bouroon, which is were Sophie learnt to ride.
The horse is still there that she learned to ride on!!
32 years old now and still in excellent health. Sophie still visits and gives her old friend a treat. On the way home we stop and look at the pasture that Sophie has rented. She must be careful where she places the horses due to the wild pigs that roam in different areas. They are huge and mean!! Beautiful laneways and many small farms along the way. Arrive back at Sophie's and she prepares supper around 9 PM.
Just after we finish eating she comes running back from the field shouting "Deanna, COME! Sassy has her baby!!" Iím thinking, no way, she is not due yet, but, alas, yes, here are the feet of the new born foal emerging into the world!! At first I thought it was breach, as it appeared to be two hind feet, but once Sassy laid down and I was able to feel up past the joint, I was relieved to find everything was in order Ė we had a nose!!
I worked with her contractions and not 5 minutes later we had a beautiful filly laying by her side. Sophie was very excited to say the least. She was so thankful that I was able to help their new addition arrive.
Suzanne, Sophieís daughter, named her Fraise (Strawberry) and since all horses born in France must have the first letter of that year for their name (Q for 2004), they named her SS Palís Quick Fraise!! And she was quick!! And beautiful!!
Sophie presented me with a flag from French Brittany, her husbands heritage, a vintage bottle of local wine and an antique leather hole punch. Plus some postcards of historical horse riders from France. We will hang the flag with our other flags in the arena.
If I thought June 18th was a full day, I just needed to look ahead to today! Up at 7 AM their time to catch the train that would take me to Paris. Wanted to spend some time with Sophie and Fraise before I left, as she was not sure if Sassy would allow her to come close to her foal. No Problem!! They spent half an hour bonding and then off we went. So, of course, we missed the train. But, No Problem!! The next train was an hour wait and was actually cheaper than the one we had.
While we were waiting Sophie took me to this magnificent cathedral, Saint-Julien Du Mans, built in, ready Ė 1528!!! Canada wasnít even discovered yet, and here is this huge, gorgeous building built before we even knew Canada had Indians!! The stained glass is always my favorite viewing in these masterpieces, so intriguing and so unbelievable that they had such wonders hundreds of years ago.
When we arrive at the train station I try to get some money on my debit card. Well, you know how our phones have the alphabet on the key pads, guess what, not in France. I have my passwords memorized by a name and cannot remember the pattern on the phone keys!! So no money. I try me credit card, wonít work (found out when I got home that the bank had issued new cards that work in Europe to people that requested them!!) Thank goodness Sophie lent me enough to get me through.
I catch the train at 9:20 AM in Le Mans and arrive in Mont Parnasse, Paris. I have my map and general instruction from Sophie, with my, hopefully, good sense of direction. Maneuver my way from the train station to the sub way station, lugging my suitcase every step of the way. Actually get on the right one and get off two blocks from the Eiffel tower.
Tour around the tower, it is a real site to see, much wider than I expected, and tons of people from all around the world. Then walk across the river with the hope of finding the Tour díTriumph. So much to see, so much history, beautiful gardens along the way, people from every corner of this earth.
Spent the morning working with Dagmar and the horses. She had been having some problems with Whitney and we had tried to find some solutions via email prior to my arrival, but this is almost impossible. After spending only a few minutes watching Dagmar work with Whitney I was able to see a number of changes she could make to improve the situation. We changed where she was lunging, her stance, her movements and eliminated the whip. I did a session with Whitney and within 15 minutes Whitney was calm, relaxed and extremely responsive, stopping with just the drop of my shoulder. Bernard was so happy he had tears in his eyes as he hugged me and thanked me for "bringing back Whitney". It was a very, very touching moment for me. Dagmar, Bernard and Anna are such caring, loving people, and it hurt them to think that Whitney was "unmanageable". They were so relieved to learn that all Whitney was doing was what they were, unknowingly, asking her to do. I never stop to think about how I read horses, but I did that day.
Dagmar and Bernard prepared an excellent BBQ lunch and that afternoon we headed out to Bernardís uncleís, Karl, farm to see my curly filly, Windy Sue.
Karl had offered his farm for Sue to stay at when we brought her up from Austria. The grass was hip high for Sue and she was obviously very happy. What hospitality!! They put out a super lunch and cake like I had never had!
When we arrive back at Dagmarís they have prepared an excellent supper with Barbecued melted cheese, steak and salad. The cheese tastes soooo good! Another session with Whitney goes perfectly. Dagmar has her in hand and she is listening 100%.
Up at 8 and work Whitney one last time. She is completely relaxed now. Dagmar wishes to drive her and we notice that her nose is sore from the cavesson she is using, so I take some tea towels and pad the nose area for her. Fixed! Karen Sarul arrived around 11 Am and we had a nice lunch and a super visit!! So nice to have a full interpreter!! Departed around 2 PM and headed off to the US airforce base, where Karen works. Some very unique shops here and pick up some Christmas ornaments, horses of course! Karen presented me with a very special Santa Claus to hang on my tree.
Marian kills me!!! He trusts Prospector 100%, cantering with no reins, go anywhere. Marian did not know how to ride when they purchased Prospector and I knew the moment I saw them together that they would make a great team. But never did I (or Karen, Iím sure) believe that they would bond as strongly as they have. The horses now have their own private stall area, turn out area and they are really treated like family. I teach Marian how to do a side pass on PíMan (Prospectors new nickname) and he is thrilled. Supper is scallops (My Favorite!!!!), Greek fried cheese, pamoutu with pasta, and it is mouth watering!! some wine too, of course!
Itís raining, so we go to the stables, visit, and Karen shows me all her amazing tricks with Austin! What progress she ha made with her clicker training. Austin is the very first horse that I have ever seen fetch a ball!! That evening we go to the stables of the people that transported Sue for me. Have some wine, visit and back to Karen and Marian's and visit until 2 AM!!
Up at 4:30 AM!! Yikes, only 2 Ĺ hours sleep. Leave Karenís at 5, take the train to Koblenz, Trier and to LUX. Arrive at 9:40 and bus it to the airport. National holiday, nothing is open.
The gang is suppose to meet me in Calgary, and two hours later we find each other and head home!! Arrive home 48 hours after I left Karen and Marian's home!! Tired, but have to be alert to head off for the mountain trip!