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    [RC] My Official WEG Story - A Groom's Tale - Laura Hayes

        The story starts with an offhand comment something akin to "I'll crew
    for you" and ended with my flying home after ten days in Spain, exhausted,
    enlightened and really tan.
        I was too busy trying to get away from home to be excited about going to
    Spain.  Three business to arrange for, and so many animals you can't count -
    good thing my husband Mark was staying home, and my son had recently gone to
    college, or I could not have gotten away.
        The plane landed in Madrid from Newark with no hitches.  I am obviously
    not suspect looking, and was waved through security and immigration.  Lori
    Shifflet, Jennifer Sapira and Barbara Horstmeier and myself were to meet at
    the Madrid airport, which proved to be easier than I had thought, even
    though we all barely knew each other.  We also saw Betty and Steve Baker who
    were in Spain to crew for the US also.  The four of us women caught a taxi
    to the train station and to meet Pam Koch, Cia's neighbor from PA, and then
    on the train to Sevilla.
        The Spanish countryside from Madrid to Sevilla was interesting - very
    little color, quite dry, and rows of olive trees everywhere.  We
    occasionally saw horses, but it was not clear what they were eating.  The
    landscape was stark to say the least, and then once in awhile you would see
    a huge beautiful Hacienda behind rock walls overflowing with beautiful
    fucsia colored bouganvilla.  I ordered my first Cafe con leche at the bar on
    the train - mmmm, a good way to get one's daily need for caffeine.
        Our sleeping arrangements were nice- a small two bedroom apartment each
    room with two beds, a sleeper sofa in the sitting room and a small equipped
    kitchen with a clothes washer.  We were on the top floor of a five story
    building, and our balcony overlooked the village square.  All of the riders
    and crew were in this hotel ( am guessing at about 35), while volunteers for
    the road crews (another 20?) were about 10 minutes away.  We were about 40
    minutes from the private stable the horses were in, which was very near the
    ride site of Garapillos.  The main venue with the stadiums and stabling for
    all the other sports, was in the city of Jerez de la Frontera (pronounced
    Her-eth) and was called Chapin - though I was never clear about why.
        The six American horses, Wave, Ali, Shahdon, Finally,Red and Pal, were
    staying at a private farm with nice indoor stalls, outdoor paddocks, and an
    area under cover to keep hay, feed and equipment.  We were the only
    international horses at that farm.  We assembled there every morning for a
    meeting, riding, lunch, massages and stretching for the riders and horses,
    and otherwise caring for the horses.  The vets watched each horse trot and
    the farrier reshod several.  Most of the riders were fine tuning equipment
    and getting a feel for the countryside - riding the loops in pairs.  One day
    we body clipped and I ended up doing much of Wave and Pal - funny since my
    own horse looked like I chewed his hair off last spring!
        The days went fast, and we found very little time for sightseeing. Some
    afternoons were free and I went to Cadiz one day (where Columbus sailed
    from) with Jeannie Waldron, Twyla (Val's groom), Dr. Beecher, and his son,
    Russ. One afternoon was spent at Chapin were I did some shopping in the
    vendor area (saw Teddy from Running Bear Farm) and watched the Dressage
    finals with other endurance folks. After the ride I was able to go into
    Jerez and see the training session for the Riding School there.  The Spanish
    bred Andalusians where beautiful, and the history of the school was amazing.
        Most evenings before the ride were spent in the hotel's restaurant and
    later at night in the open air Mexican restaurant nearby.  Margaritas flowed
    freely and we laughed until we had belly aches (colic?). The locals out did
    us though, and were frequently just leaving the bars as we were heading out
    in the morning.  Skip Lightfoot did expose his backside - so don't let him
    tell you he didn't, and I am fairly certain Julie Bullock had alot to do
    with that.  She later walked in the freshly mopped restroom and landed on
    her back - she was unhurt, but smelled of cleaner of some sort.
        Art Prieze was big on meetings, and rightly so, as I think this group
    was really a team, and it was due in big part to Art's leadership.  Most
    meetings were confidence building exercises or lectures, combined with some
    silly entertainment such as poems or songs by riders and their crews.  I
    think the best was Steve Rojek's "The Twelve Days Of The World Games" it
    referred to Twyla not having her correct passport, Dr. Beecher having been
    'relieved' of his money, Ali not wanting to go up the ramp into the truck,
    Jeannie drawing tubes and tubes of blood, not having any hay, and just
    wanting to sleep, among many other memorable instances. It was performed
    twice and gained personality as it went along. The Australian bunch were in
    our hotel also and took and gave much good spirited ribbing.
        A day before vet in, we moved the horses to the event stabling - the
    riders riding over and the crews lugging their stuff in cars.  The stables
    were tidy and clean - rows of portable stalls with tent roofs and nice
    gravel wash racks all encased by a tall fence and guarded by security.  Many
    of us had been issued picture credentials and had to wear them to get in.  I
    volunteered to sleep at the groom's quarters at the stable which were
    portable boxes with electric, air and decent bunks with clean sheets and
    towels.  The groom's quarters bathrooms and showers were the nicest
    facilities I had seen in Spain. There were no phones there, though and I
    didn't even contact my husband until about day seven - good thing he is not
    a worrier!
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