Team Dressage Hafl on the way to Aachen - Part 3: Finally, Aachen - or: Meeting Charlotte Dujardin!

Touching the holy ground!

Sunday was the day!!! Aachen, FEI European Championships Dressage Freestyle Finals - the 15 best riders in the arena!

We had a nice breakfast in Liege and left pretty early. Booking the parking lot in advance only was a great idea - with no time wasted waiting, we parked the car and moved on to the holy grounds of what they call the Soers, the venue. We entered the huge area via the impressive bridge and shortly after that made our first steps on the holy ground.

As we were there pretty early, we could still walk around freely in the main stadium and let the atmosphere sink in. WOW! In only a few hours, hundreds, no, thousands of people would be in here cheering for their favorites.

The shopping area was simply huge but due to the strange rain (it is pretty misty rain - no drops at all?! What is that?!), we were not too happy to walk around too much after we already got wet yesterday in Liege in the pouring rain (real rain by the way). I just tried the probably most expensive top hat on the show ground, for sure the most expensive that I have ever seen (several thousand Euros) and a shadbelly (just to make sure):

At 11, there was an autograph session with the German team. So we waited for what seemed to be an eternity to get the ladies' autographs - I specifically asked for autographs on an FN sticker such that I could later then put it on my tack locker. Taking pictures almost seemed impossible. Almost. Because I did manage to photobomb my own picture with the girls! Isabell Werth, Kristina Bröring-Sprehe and Jessica von Bredlow-Werndl did not know how to react to me running behind them like mad and screaming that Stephan should hurry to take a picture! And here are the photobombs of the day:

Huge wheels!

Team Dressage Hafl meets Team Germany

TOO many people in front of me

Photobomb Part 1
Photobomb Part 2

Having laughed so hard about my attempt to take pictures AND the fact that a toilet break was already more than overdue, let us run through the show grounds to find the restrooms. LUCKILY enough, I ran into CHARLOTTE DUJARDIN!!! Yes, I saw her! MORE THAN THAT! I was quick enough to open my mouth and ask her for a picture!!! OMG what a day! So I got my very own picture with Charlotte - and as she touched me, I am still hoping for some of her stardust falling onto my shoulders...

Somebody on Facebook wrote: it's like you just met GOD!

What followed was a tortilla session such that we did not have to move during the test. Due to (to me back then unknown reasons) only 13 pairs instead of 15 showed up. What happened during the next 2 hours can be read all over the place. I can only add that the emotions were high in the stadium and it must have been a pleasure to ride in such surroundings! As all of the rides are on YouTube already, I may only contribute the award giving ceremony as I saw it.

After that, we still had coffees and crepes and German Bratwurst before we strolled around the shopping area once more - all I got was a pack of Kingsland Show Socks - better than nothing, right?

The same night we drove to Landgraaf, Netherlands where we stayed for the night at a beautiful country hotel.

That day was so special. Seeing all those people in person, touching and talking to some of them was more than I even dreamed of. Unfortunately, I did forget to ask Charlotte whether she still keeps her ribbons - Charlotte, in case you are reading this: whenever you want to give some of them away, I promise the would get a warm and loving home at my place!

Congratulations to ALL who participated! You all were winners to ride in such an environment in first place!

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