Caitlin Silliman reports from France:
After 5 days of traveling Remington and I finally arrived at Pau at 4 o'clock on Sunday afternoon! It was quite an adventure from True Prospect to the Pau show grounds for two first-timers traveling abroad. I have never flown with horses before so I was a bit nervous about the trip, as I found out late Tuesday night that it would only be Remington and I traveling to Pau! But I figured you can't get too lost at the airport with a horse in tow...
Remi and I started out at 6:30 on Wednesday morning with a commercial shipper who took us to the vet port at JFK where we would wait to fly out to Amsterdam at 10:30 that night. We arrived at JFK at 11 AM to a friendly voice in the vet port barn: Nat VC was in the stables with Nina Ligon's two horses. They were on their way to the Asian Games but were on my flight to Amsterdam, as they had to lay over in Germany for a week before traveling to China. Nat is a VERY experienced traveler and talked me through every step of the airport process!
We stayed in the vet port for the day until 6 pm when we loaded the three horses on a lorry that would take them to the boxes they would travel in on the plane. After saying good bye to the horses Nat, Scott (a professional flyer to assist us with the horses on the plane in case of emergency), and I went into the airport to check in for our flight like regular passengers. Scott and Nat told me that there are two kinds of flights that the horses can go on. One is a "freighter" which just has cargo and a crew of pilots so it is very casual and you stay with the horses the whole flight. The other kind, (our flight), is a KLM flight which is a huge plane with regular passengers, (most of which don't even know horses are on board), and the horses are behind the passengers at the back of the plane.
Once we checked in Nat and I rushed off to get pedicures at the express spa with our remaining time and then boarded the plane! Nat, Scott and I sat in the last row of seats and went back with the horses for take off, landing, and many times in between to check on them. Remi flew like a pro! Horses seem to ship better on planes than they do in trailers!
7 hours later we landed in Amsterdam at 11:30 AM on Thursday morning. Once we arrived we walked to the vet port to meet the horses who were still in the boxes that they traveled in on the plane. I was able to offer Remi water and give him some grain while I waited for the vets to unload him. Once the vets gave him the OK and all paperwork was done I unloaded Remi, waved goodbye to Nat, and loaded onto a lorry that would take Remi and I to Chantilly. A little French guy drove us to Chantilly and he spoke about 4 words of English! It made for an entertaining drive because for the 7 hours of our trip I taught him English, he taught me French, and we tried to communicate with small, slow sentences and lots of hand gestures!
We arrived in Chantilly late Thursday night and Remi and I were both very pleased to be in a bed for the night! Friday morning I hacked Remi for and hour and then put him out in a paddock for the remainder of the day. Remi recovered very well from traveling the days before. Furson stables, where we were staying, is beautiful! There are two barns on the property, one was full of Grand Prix show jumpers, and the other, (the barn remi and I were in), only had 5 horses that did some low level eventing. I took Remi out for a long walk again on Friday morning and then a French vet came in the afternoon to give him fluids (photo below) so he would be ready for the drive on Sunday.
Sunday morning at 5 AM an older man named Christophe picked us up to take us to the competition grounds in Pau. Christophe had to pick up a horse at the race track in Paris on the way, so Remi and I got a tour of the city, (including the Eiffel Tower), all lit up because it was still dark out! The drive to Pau took 11 hours which flew by because of the beautiful countryside we got to see on the way. Lots of huge farms and vineyards for most of the drive and then 1 hour outside of Pau we drove through the mountains.
Remi and I were the first to arrive at Pau so everyone helped us get settled in.
Remi seems full of energy and ready to compete! The show grounds are beautiful and the weather couldn't be better. Boyd will meet us tomorrow at lunch time!
Wish us luck!!