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Friday in Abu Dhabi

It doesn't seem possible that we have been here over a week now. We vet-in and organize our crew boxes today - the crews spent yesterday afternoon at the Carrefour buying food and "items" they think we'll need. Grace and Shaika Madeya (that's princess Madeya for those of you unfamiliar with the titles) are supplying us with water tubs, buckets, sponges and Shaika Madeya has graciously offered us the use of her private chalet and her crew box, also - she has only one horse entered in the President's Cup, so she wants us to use anything she might have that we need. Mark Dial will be here again tomorrow morning, and he'll bring the tow ropes (in case vehicles get stuck in the sand dunes) and winches, more phones for the drivers and some lawn chairs.

Becky, Mark and I spent the afternoon with the horses, doing a little massage and stretching exercises on the boys. After that we went up to the venue to check to see if they had assigned our crewing boxes yet, and to let the OC know we were going to be with Madeya. No one was around, but there was some sort of parade of horses going on, so we hung around to see what was up - seems the UAE was putting on their first ever Para-equestrian endurance ride (6 km only) and the riders were being introduced to their horses and selecting who they wanted to ride. There were severly disabled riders along with some moderately disabled, and a total of 20 riders. Each rider had an attendant with them, and two New Zealand riders were their escorts. Steph and John Teeter were there to take photos...it really was exciting to see this happening. We stayed (the French endurance team was also there) until they started, then we headed back to the stables, then back to the hotel. The crews were still out shopping so I took a nap...!

Earlier in the day Steve and I rode for about an hour, practicing the water bottle hand-offs again. Steve says they'll get it by the end of the first loop - At least I can get Theatric within grabbing range now...and the odd thing is that he likes getting up to the women over the men...anyway, that's coming along. Then the crews roared off into the sand dunes to look at the infamous Tora Bora (red trail) - and proceeded to get stuck out there. Tom took some funny pictures of them digging out the front of the Patrol - he said they were mired up to the axels.

Last night the hotel had the whole place lit up in red and hearts for Valentine's Day - long-stemmed red rose to all women, a formal dinner on the patio/poolside - as Becky said, it looked like a really bad wedding. For each "couple" there was a bottle of wine (your choice, red or white) and there was a DJ playing songs that had "love" in them....everything from James Blunt to Elvis Presley to Tony Bennett...what a hoot! Linda and Johnny Crandell joined us for dinner - I bugged out early to go to bed...John left early to get some sleep, too...he spent the day up in Dubai again with his friend Hassan Ben Ali

That's about all for now...we will be so busy today I may not get to you all until much later....I'll let you know about the trot-outs and our crewing area.