Mexico: Where the Wheels Kept Falling Off
The trip to the Nations Cup of Mexico, in beautiful San Miguel de Allende, is an adventure I will remember for a long time.
After quite a few tries to fly into Mexico City, there were wind, fuel, air pressure, and radar problems before we even took off from Miami. We finally managed to arrive safely on both horse flights and passenger flights. We had one of the grooms from the team fly with the horses, and I was meant to meet the horses at the airport in Mexico City to travel with them by truck and trailer to San Miguel.
The customs part of flying into Mexico can be quite complicated and took longer than expected.
There we had the first wheels come off.
One of the team member’s show trunks somehow had two small tires dislodged.
We are not sure how it happened, but luckily the wheels were kept and attached to the side of the trunk. Obviously, it wasn’t possible to roll anymore, and we needed four people to get it moved, but we weren't stressing too much about it.
Next, the horses were released out of customs and began the journey to San Miguel, there was just one small problem.
They forgot ME.
After some logistic rearrangement, the team veterinarian and I managed to catch up with the truck and trailer so we could join the horses and the flying groom.
Another 30 min passed and there was the second wheel of the day (technically third, I guess) to come off.
One of the tires of the truck driving the horses exploded on the road! The driver deserves a medal after keeping calm once the truck started to swirl across the lanes. He managed to pull over safely by the side of the road and we all got out to see the damage. The wheel was completely torn to pieces. After being in Mexico, I learned that the Mexicans don’t really get too stressed out about things, so the driver just told us to get back in the truck and we started driving again. The other groom and I weren’t really sure how we were going to do this. At the speed we were going, we would not even make it to San Miguel before the Nations Cup.
But the driver had a plan, another kilometer down the road was a mechanic. 30 min later, and we were back on the road again with a new tire!
The rest of the trip was less eventful, and after a stop for a sit-down lunch that made what should have been a 4-hour drive extended to a 6-hour drive, we finally made it.
We were in beautiful San Miguel de Allende. The town was located on the top of a hill with the most adorable and colorful streets. Cute restaurants and a stunning cathedral.
We got the horses settled in and we got the equipment delivered. Luckily we were a lot of people to help take the trunks of the truck, with or without wheels.
Bricks work excellent as a support for your trunk when you lose two wheels, I learned that in Mexico…
So the USA stable was set up and we were ready for the riders to arrive and the show to begin.
And we had a great show, no more wheels coming off (except my trolley carrying grain but that happens even when I am not in Mexico).
Team USA won all the bigger classes, including the big goal of the week, the Nations Cup. This was our first part of the goal to qualify for the Nations Cup final in Barcelona.
That win we celebrated with a very early morning hot air balloon ride over the town of San Miguel the next day. Making the team management and the security a little bit worried for our safety, but we had complete faith in the balloon sitting on the trailer dragged by the pickup car with the plates in the backseat. It was an incredible experience and I would do it again.
To top everything off, Kent Farrington also won the Grand Prix!
It was a Team USA weekend, to say the least, and we were ready to head over to Europe.
After the drive we had to the horse show, we thought we'd had all the excitement we were going to have already.
We were wrong!!
Filling up gas at a petrol station got quite dramatic when we witnessed a shoplifting gang steal some beers, get caught and chased down by some employees and then proceed to assault the staff in the parking lot, before fleeing the scene in their car. It all happened very fast but everyone seemed ok and the police were just around the corner to assist.
It was like something out of a movie and we were very thankful that everyone was okay.
Another sit-down lunch and a few hours later, we arrived at the airport and the long wait began. When you are flying with horses it is a lot of waiting involved that you have zero control over. A lot of paperwork to be dealt with but finally the horses were loaded and happily eating hay and drinking water in their containers.
The flight to Paris was smooth and we could put the horses in stalls at the airport 10 hours later.
There started another period of waiting, more paperwork to be done for both horses and equipment. We got the chance to walk 10 very fresh and eager horses outside the stabling at the airport. But fresh and eager horses usually mean they are healthy and feeling good so we much preferred that.
About 48 hours after we left the stables at the show in San Miguel, the horses finally arrived at their home stables for the summer in Belgium.
We lost some wheels along the way, but all the important ones stayed on. Even though it indeed was an adventure going to a show in Mexico, I would gladly do it again. The food was excellent even if I wasn’t allowed to eat salad (and for those who know me, that is a big challenge for me), the locals were so friendly and welcoming and the facility was top class.
San Miguel de Allende gets four out of five wheels (one is still by the side of the highway somewhere in Mexico)!
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