One of the best 'extra' benefits of equestrian sports is to see so much of the world and to meet people from so many different nations and cultures. We travel to clinics, we travel to competitions, we travel for training. I have lived in 3 of the 4 corners of the USA as part of my training: Seattle, Washington-Carlsbad,California-and Wellington, Florida! For competitions and clinics I have traveled to Germany, Holland, the Netherlands, New Jersey, Kentucky, Oregon, New York, Texas, Oklahoma, and Michigan. The last few months training in Voerde, Germany with Johann Hinnemann has been one of the greatest opportunities to explore the world and myself I could have asked for. Saturday afternoon I ride my bike to the train, lock it up and catch a train anywhere I can travel and return by Sunday night. I have seen the dom in Cologne, the Brandenburg Tor (gate) in Berlin and the Stadtkirche (state church) in Dortmund. I have danced with friends in Dusseldorf and wandered through the gardens of many a city park. I have given an impromptu concert among new friends in Ermelo. The fun thing is you don't have to go far or to grand places like Paris. There is so much world to see and so many horse people around the world. We are all connected with our love of horses. It has been fun to learn about the tradition and culture not only of the people (like the Dutch men being the tallest in the world) or seeing the Bruge Madonna from the movie Minutemen yourself; but also to learn about the embedded culture and traditions of horses within a society. For example, there is a castle in Ingolstadt, Germany that is now a museum where they preserved the indoor jousting area. The entrances to the castle are long slow cobblestone wide paths for the horses. The entire first floor of the castle is entirely to host horses and indoor winter training. The Germanic tribes in 1255 started construction. You can feel the integrated role horses played in their survival and defense. You can see the giant banners of the knights families fluttering from beams in the ceiling. It is very surreal to imagine the connection to every day life horses played. Horses here weren't hobbies or pets. They were integral parts of the family. They were necessary to survive and they were also part of the pride and strength of these people. They gave them power not only to live but to grow and conquer. The way Sjapoer always made me feel strong and free.
I guess the lesson or advice for today is get out, explore and use the opportunities your given not just to become better riders or trainers but better citizens of the world!