Event riders returning to northern Europe from Portugal’s Barroca d’Alva have been stranded due to snow. One rider resorted to twitter and a French chicken farmer to alleviate her drastic situation.
Dutch rider Merel Blom, who finished second in the CIC*** on the Badminton-bound Rumour Has It, started tweeting last night after she was stuck for 13 hours with four horses on the French autoroute near Compiegne.
“Now out of water for the horses. Trying to melt snow for them. Getting sick and tired of the situation,” she tweeted, followed by: “Pls retweet! If someone has information or can help, we are with 4 horses on the A1 (Estreés Denicourt,exit D1029), for 30 hours now. Help!”
Merel had 30 responses offering help, but due to the horsebox’s location in the middle of the autoroute, “almost no one could do anything”, Merel told H&H.
“But while we were walking the horses this morning — three of us and four horses — in and out of lorries on the icy highway, a group of French people came along to help,” said Merel. “It’s been amazing.”
Merel ran out of water and hay last night, and was shocked that the French authorities offered no help. When her horsebox batteries and fuel also ran out, she drove her moped on an emergency recce.
“I was looking for cows — any type of farm that might have some hay,” said Merel. “Finally I found a chicken farmer who offered me some straw. He and his friend drove his tractor with straw, and even some hay, on to the highway for my horses.”
Finally, 32hr after her first tweet, at lunchtime today (Wednesday) the traffic started to move.
“It’s still terrible weather, but I hope I’ll be home in six hours,” said Merel. “The horses are going straight to the vets to be monitored for 48hr. I need to sleep.”
UK-based Dutch rider Althea Bleekman was also snowbound in France after competing at Barroca, with five horses.
“Looks like we’re staying in France at least until tomorrow morning. Stupid snow,” she tweeted this morning (Wednesday), having settled her horses in “some lovely stables [while we] wait for the snow to clear so we can get a boat home!”