"Germany is famous for its horses," I told Carol. "I really want to ride while I'm there."
She agreed this was a good idea, so we started looking for a stable.
I thought it would be easy, but it turns out that the horse on Stuttgart's coat of arms is a lie. This big manufacturing city is decidedly unhorsey. I started looking further afield, but I was handicapped by my lack of German language skills. I was beginning to worry this wouldn't happen when fate intervened in the form of Kim Brandner.
Kim read the blog post I wrote about my upcoming trip to Europe. In it, I discussed my dreams of "taking dressage lessons in Germany" thought, "I can make that happen."
Carol and I drove to Kim's house on my first Saturday in Europe. We spent the morning in Ulm.
Then we raced down some country roads to an indoor riding ring.
A few minutes later, a horse trailer pulled up, and I met my first European horse, Tornado. Pronounced Tor-Nah-Do rather than Tor-nay-do, this big boy is a Polish Warmblood gelding belonging to one of Kim's friends.We tacked him up and led him into the ring. I canned the area looking for a mounting block. I didn't see one and wondered how I was going to get myself up onto this giant mountain of a horse.
Fortunately, a solution presented itself.
I gathered up the reins and asked Tornado to walk on. We warmed up a little bit on our own.
Then Kim stepped into the ring and my lesson began.
I didn't know what to expect, but what I got was a basic, but challenging, lower level dressage lesson.
Kim is a good teacher, and Tornado was steady and well behaved.
Despite that, I struggled. I've spent the last five years taking small, hot horses down the trail, and apparently, I have forgotten how to ride a big, quiet horse in the ring.The canter was especially humbling. I really need to get back into some kind of lesson program.
We finished the lesson with a couple
"Good boy, Tornado."
Although I wish I could have ridden, I am still so happy I got to check the German dressage lesson off my equestrian bucket list. Thank you so much, Kim, for making it happen, and thanks also to Carol for taking all the pictures!