Will's Blog: The logistics of a Championship

21st Aug 2014

Today (Thursday) has been a busy day.  Also, a day for reviewing and revising travel plans as our planned departure times (from GBR) and arrival times on Caen have “not survived first contact with the enemy”.  On this occasion the “enemy” has been;

• 1 x sick horsebox
• 1 x unclear understanding of Eurostar timings resulting in a 12 hour wait for a train
• 1 x flash strike in Calais (well, what would France be without flash strikes)
• 1 x sick horse (NOT a Team horse)
• 1 x sick tooth
• 1 x deceased mobile phone….well, to be more accurate a deserted mobile phone occasioning a U turn and retracing of motorway miles already covered.

However, we have adapted and overcome and the flow of arrivals continues unabated.  We even have our first horse; Half Moon Delphi.  WEG has now started in earnest.

We also collected two 9 seater minibuses yesterday which will form part of the GBR transport system and will be driven by four kind volunteers who also arrived yesterday.  Sarah’s minibus already had two Parking Tickets which were promptly returned to the Car Hire company.  Clearly this is an unloved minibus as it also has scratches and dents down both sides…and yes, that was BEFORE we took it over.

The Para-Equestrian Dressage horses arrived in Deauville (about 45 minutes from Caen by car) where they will stay tonight in order to allow them to get in to the stables at Caen early on Friday.  Now, pay close attention to The Plan that was (almost) flawlessly executed:  Armstrong / Connell / Lee arrive at the Para venue, unload rubber stable mats, put dust on stable floors to absorb moisture (they were flooded earlier in the week) – return to hotel – drop off one vehicle – load in to one vehicle – drive to Car Hire company – return to Hotel – drop off minibuses – return to Para Venue.  MEANWHILE (in another part of town); Thomas drives to Deauville, meets Para-Equestrian horses / grooms / staff – collects trailer from back of Perry’s lorry – drives to Para Venue followed by Fisher (Vet not Saddler) and Hughes with open topped trailer.  Set up stables, unload trailers – return to hotel (certain person got a little lost; but that is what happens when you are a cat person and not a dog person) – drop off riders’ luggage – Hughes & Fisher return to Deauville.  Oh I love logistics!!

We also started to set up the Reining Stables but their kit was delayed by the aforementioned flash strike in Calais.  I took an opportunity to wander around the Games Village which is taking shape.  The FEI have a very spiffing and smart pavilion that has been built by the ever dependable Henson Franklyn team….more familiar faces that I see so often on the equestrian “circuit”.  I am sure the FEI Pavilion will become a popular gathering place for the FEI “Family”; maybe small gatherings of Secretary Generals and President will come together to discuss and plot the Presidential election that will take place in November…..politics and intrigue?

So, three sets of stables set up; three to go.  The Dressage stables are the same as London 2012 and we could not have asked for better.  Some of the other stables have the plastic (very strong) flexible material walls; I am not a fan of these although they are often used and seem to work. My personal preference is for each stable to have its own integrity so if a horse kicks a stable wall the wall should not move:  I would not like to be the other side of the material walls if a horse was kicking badly.

The day concluded with the arrival of Andy Fingers Thomas and Doc Sally and then once the trumpets had been sounded to announce their arrival, dinner was taken with the staff (Central / Dressage / Para-Equestrian / Reining) and Team GBR drivers….there was one “failure to show” and it was not the farrier that had been traveling over night the previous night….but then I guess he did not have to listen to more stories of a certain physio’s time at Barnsley Soccer Club….

I am off to visit the Eventing Hotel tomorrow…. So I can look forward to a 2 ½ - 3 hour round trip of driving!