It was a long old way to Le Mans. Going on the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to Caen can be quite relaxing, but with the troubles at Calais the ferry was absolutely rammed - so full that the lorry was parked at an angle at the back of the boat and there seemed to be five people booked in my couchette one of whom was a lady who really snored!
Thursday dawned very hot, and by the time I reached the showground at Le Bouleries having been lost for an hour in the tiny weeny lanes it was 37 degrees. Luckily the horses were in permanent stables with a good breeze going past and they settled in very quickly and drank a huge amount of water. They both trotted up and then I took them both for a quiet hack round the huge showground.
I had a good lesson with Shane before I left and both horses jumped well at Keysoe so I was reasonably confident setting off. Luendi jumped really well in the 1.20 on Thursday morning and then we had a long wait for Emma to jump at 7.30. I lunged her during the afternoon, but she was very lit up by the atmosphere in the main ring and was very silly and strong in the 1.30, although she settled and jumped well by the end of the round. Our concentration wasn't helped by the man before us getting eliminated at the water and staying in the ring beating the horse while we jumped. On Friday Luendi was first to go in the 1.25 and jumped another good round although she was a little bit green in some of the tricky dog-leg distances. Emma jumped really well in the 1.35 in spite of the girl before me falling off and the horse galloping round and round the ring until it was caught. Sadly my show jacket was stolen off the fence while I was riding in on Emma which was disappointing and very unusual for a French show.
It absolutely poured with rain on Saturday night and unusually for France there was an all night party in the main building, so by the time Sunday morning dawned I was slightly tired and emotional. Polly, my sister, her boyfriend Vincent and their four children, Eliane, Nina, Leonie and Antonin, came to watch. The moral support was absolutely lovely and not only are the girls really good at holding the horses, but Polly is a dab hand at the practice jump. Luendi jumped really well and then we had a relaxing lunch before the 1.40 Grand Prix. Emma actually jumped a really nice round, but sadly, I think I misjudged the balance between working her and the intense heat and humidity and she had several down which is very unlike her.
I jumped too late on Sunday to catch the overnight ferry, so we left at 2am to catch the 8.30 ferry. I was so glad to have a couchette all to myself, and even more glad when we arrived home safe and sound. The horses seemed to travel well and after a few quiet days feel nice and full of themselves and ready for the Longines Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead this week.
Overseas shows are always an opportunity to make new friends and see old ones. Le Mans was no exception and it was lovely to see Sam Garry and her pupils, Beanie Allison and Izzy Tomkins, who very kindly fed me for two evenings, and to stable next to Jamie Wingrove, Ruth Reay and Jamie's pupils Liv Skinner and Georgia Distefano and their families, and also to catch up with Geoffrey Cabbaut from Belgium who is very good at rescuing me from various pickles I find myself in. On this occasion he managed to magic up a coat for me to wear on Sunday!