Days 3 & 4:
It snowed (and snowed!) Friday night and walking to the barn from the hotel in the morning was such a serene sight. The entire complex is massive with magnificent brick buildings. On Saturday morning all the students rode together in the large indoor. First, they rode their dressage horses and then tacked up and rode their jumping horses on the flat. Annie’s two horses are Rubens and Passepartout. The good news is no-one fell off! (However, Annie somehow managed to accidentally bump the already irritated instructor on the head with her whip!)
The students finished all of their work just before lunch and had part of the afternoon free. Annie and I walked to the local tack shop. It’s a very good thing that our luggage was already quite full, because it was the most charming little shop filled with all things beautiful and the staff there was so pleasant and helpful.
After evening barn duties…Annie and I attended Mass at St. Laurentius, a beautiful gothic church in the town center. (You can see part of the tower of the church behind us in one of the photos). It can sometimes be a challenge to go to church when you are in the equestrian world, as shows, clinics, etc. are always held on Sundays, but being Catholic makes it somewhat easier in that we can usually find a Saturday evening service. Even though we couldn’t understand all of the German homily, the Mass was in candlelight and was accompanied by a very talented choir. Interestingly, the final song was sung in English.
Sunday was a free day after the barn duties in the morning. It is unseasonably cold here with a lot of heavy, wet snow. The group took a train to Munster for the day. They visited the Westphalian Horse Museum which is located in the center of the zoological garden. The museum featured numerous interactive exhibits and various original objects. The impressive “Polydor”, one of the most successful German breeding stallions of all times, was stuffed/preserved and on display. We also learned fascinating details about the life of pit ponies (sad but certainly interesting).
Afterwards a few of us hopped on a bus to the city center and explored the beautiful and vast Christmas markets of Munster. It was picture-perfect with the snow falling and all of the people strolling through the various charming kiosks. Unfortunately it was so wet and cold that my phone died and I didn’t get as many photos as I would’ve liked. Had the weather been more cooperative, we could’ve stayed there for hours exploring. Munster is now most definitely a new addition to my list of favorite European cities. Catching a train back to Warendorf wasn’t difficult, but the massive amount of snow resulted in some rail delays. We arrived at a Warendorf stop and we exited the train, but we should’ve stayed on for one more station. We were left once again very cold and wet waiting outside at a rural stop with the next train arriving not for another hour! I spoke to young woman waiting at the same stop and asked her if she could please call a taxi for us. It took approximately another 30 minutes or so (felt like longer), but we were VERY happy once our taxi arrived! It was nice seeing the town from the warmth of a car and it gave me a chance to practice my very rusty German. I couldn’t come up with the word for snow…so I kept referring to it as “cold, white water”. I’ll definitely remember my dictionary next time!