So one last post from my trip to Europe!
While in England, we (me, Sarah, my parents) all stayed with Gillian Glennie. She is the most amazing woman that I have met, and left us in stitches on many occasions. Gillian is the mother in law of my dear friend Hallie Glennie — we grew up pony clubbing together in Illinois. When Hallie caught wind that I was planning to compete at Blenheim, she hooked us up with Gillian for the week AND she booked her flights to come out and cheer me on as well. So cool! Hallie sent me with some warnings… the house was over 550 years old, there wasn’t going to be a lot of hot water and there was going to be a lot of black lab hair… EVERYWHERE!!! We actually never had a problem with the hot water, but there was lab hair… EVERYWHERE!!! In our food, in our coffee…. EVERYWHERE!!! It might sound crazy, but this woman was so endearing that it didn’t bother us in the least!!!! If there was a particularly large chunk o’ lab hair on someone’s plate, Gillian would say: “Just give that one to your father! It’s good for him!” We all joked that it was probably the lab hairs that made her so healthy and strong… recipe for a great immune system!
Gillian had four fabulous black labs that she would take to “Shoots”. They were the retrievers at the shoots. Gillian also drove the Blue Cross Horse Ambulance at the events. She was enormously popular amongst all the people we met and everyone seemed to know her!
One funny story… as you know it rained all the time in England. There was one day, I believe it was the Wednesday of Blenheim that we were meant to have a sunny day. The night before she came to me: “Allison, if you and Sarah have any washing that you need done, I must do it tonight so I can hang the clothes out to dry tomorrow as I don’t have a dryer here.” Excellent, I gave her all of our nasty clothes, it was sooooo muddy and wet, we couldn’t even re-wear a pair of jeans, so we were in desperate need of getting our clothes done. I had a laugh with Sarah the next day imagining Gillian hanging all of our underpants on the line out back. Little did I know…. when I got home, Gillian took me into her front room (where the front door is) where all our clothes were perfectly dried, IRONED, and folded! “Now Allison, I’ve just one question for you… What the bloody hell are these? (holding up a pair of striped thongs) They are dreadful to iron!” I almost passed out laughing!
Gillian was on horse ambulance duty on Arthur’s dressage day, so she got to see my warm up and test. She fell in LOVE with him! And really thought she could ride him. Wouldn’t stop talking about him the rest of our time with her and was just crushed when cross country was cancelled. She came to Maizey Manor to watch me ride him one last time and say goodbye to him before I went back to the states (this was when I thought I was going to Germany the following week, not France in two days!). As I led Arthur to the mounting block to get on, Gillian looked at me and said: “I do think I should sit on him.” I explained to her how skittish he is (she already knew) and I didn’t want to get her hurt. Her reply: “I do think I should sit on him.” I knew it would make her year. And I made her promise she wouldn’t try to ride him anywhere, and she promised she truly only wanted to sit on him. So, I let her. It was so cute. Standing on the mounting block she tried to pull him closer and he looked at me like: “I don’t do pony rides! I’m not very good at that sort of thing!” And Gillian spoke to him just like she does to her labs, in that commanding yet incredibly endearing way: “Well, get up here!” And he did. And he stood like a soldier, and she looked amazing! I miss her!