Hello from Boekelo! The festivities have officially kicked off here in Enschede, the Netherlands, as we saw more than 100 horses trot up this afternoon for the first horse inspection. I’ve always heard wonderful things about Boekelo, and the venue definitely doesn’t disappoint. Set in the picturesque little town of Enschede, which is right next to Boekelo, the cross-country course runs through cornfields and right past the factory that produces Grolsch, one of the leading beers here in the Netherlands. Now in its 32nd year of running, Boekelo has become a premier event on the fall calendar and holds the honors as the only CCI competition in the Nations Cup lineup.
With 21 nations competing this weekend, this is truly an international event. From Japan to Brazil and Russia to Hungary, riders from all over the globe have traveled to Boekelo to contest this event, and I’m proud that Team USA has thrown its hat into the ring this weekend. Despite seeing multiple last-minute scratches, we’ve put together a competitive team that can hold its own against the stiff competition. Team USA is Boyd Martin and Trading Aces, Lauren Kieffer and Veronica, and Elizabeth Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night, and I’m pleased to report that all horses passed the jog. All our horses and riders looked fantastic in the jog, with the horses all wearing matching Team USA coolers and the riders wearing patriotic colors.
I have to give a big shoutout to the grooms for turning out the horses so nicely. The women behind the horses this weekend are Lindsey Taylor for Trading Aces, Katie O’Neil for Veronica, and Gemma Jalinska for Fernhill By Night. I’ve never seen Fernhill By Night in person, and this Irish Sport Horse gelding is seriously to die for. Since Liz is based in the UK, we haven’t covered her much here on EN, and I’m excited to meet her, Gemma and Fernhill By Night this weekend and help you all to get to know her better. As is always my goal with major European competitions, I’ll be shadowing all of our Team USA riders and their grooms to bring you all the behind-the-scenes action.
And speaking of behind the scenes, I’m very excited to introduce Katie Walker as our official guest blogger for Boekelo. Katie is a member of the Trading Aces Syndicate, and she’ll be blogging about the experience of attending a major international event as an owner. I’ll also be bringing you much more from Team USA, who all went straight into a meeting with Coach David O’Connor following the first horse inspection. I’m hoping to catch up with our riders later this afternoon. As is EN tradition, the weather is gloomy here in the Netherlands, with temperatures in the 50s and clouds rolling in. The forecast isn’t looking promising for the rest of the event, but maybe EN karma will smile on us. Go Boekelo!