The team all met up on the Sunday, the day before we flew, at Sarah MacDonald’s to practice our test. She was kind enough to lend some of her horses and gave us a few pointers. The team was made up of Jess Campbell, whose house we stayed at that night, Beatle Payne and me (Alicia Wilkinson). We were all supplied with a t-shirt, cap and riding jackets from the BEF, which was very exciting and we felt very proud to be wearing this fabulous kit.
At the airport the next morning we met up with Lauren Innes, another member of GB Student Riders
who was coming as our chef d’equipe. The competition venue was a sports hall near Marburg with everyone sleeping in the gym on blow up mattresses. That night we caught up with everyone and had a welcoming party, with the unusual theme of ‘One Sport, One World’ (the governing body’s motto).
In the morning we had the welcoming ceremony followed by the silver league dressage then the gold league (which we were in) dressage and Great Britain was drawn against Spain and Germany! I know… Luckily we were last on the horses and we knew that if we did the test we had practiced then we could be in with a chance. Beatle led, Jess was in the middle and I brought up the rear. We did a great test and were really tight and unified. Over lunch we were told that Beatle and I had got through but sadly Jess just missed out by a fraction. We then did our semi-final tests and we both rode respectable tests. That night we had a pub-crawl which was great fun as we walked all through the quaint village of Marburg, lapping up some culture whilst getting to know the other riders and supporters.
Wednesday, we had our showjumping. Jess and I did fabulous clears and Beatle had two unfortunate poles. Jess sadly missed out on getting through to semi finals by 0.2 style penalties!!! I got through to the semis but sadly had a fence down. The two boys that were against me both went clear and unfortunately that round was judged on faults. That night everyone was pretty exhausted, but apparently sleeping is cheating at the AIEC World Finals! At the party (no theme this time) we were told the results of the semi-finals, which to our great surprise I found myself through to the finals for the dressage!
The Thursday morning we woke up and suddenly realised I had to get learning my freestyle test. When we got to the venue we had to wait an extremely long time as they had the silver and gold jumping final and the silver dressage final before parading the gold dressage horses. These two stunning horses entered and floated across the arena. I wasn’t really concentrating on people talking as I was mesmerised by the way these two horses moved and couldn’t wait to sit on them.
I drew second, so Ian Cassells from Ireland, did his test first followed by my freestyle. When I got on I was shaking like a leaf! I’m not usually affected by nerves and thankfully once I was In the arena I trotted around and felt on top of the world. I started my test and in the first movement I went wrong……Oops! I then had to improvise but managed to catch up with the music and thoroughly enjoyed myself for those few minutes. We then had the ‘kissing ceremony’ where the finalists (girl sits on the boy’s knee) have to take a shot of something potent, kiss, and roll across the arena. It was great fun besides getting covered in sand for the next test!
I was straight on next but this test could be called out, so Jess kindly did the honours. In my counter canter the horse decided to change, I changed him back and so on…. I was surprised the judge didn’t give me extra marks for my two time changes!!!
We had a fantastic closing ceremony that could only have been organised by the Germans – a bit like the
whole event really. The team ended up with bronze medals in the dressage and bronze overall. Beatle was individually 5th in the dressage and I just missed out, taking home silver. However, I was also 5th in showjumping and so my combined score resulted in me becoming overall AIEC World Champion 2015! That night (New Year’s Eve) we had the gala dinner, which is always entertaining with great music and dancing. (Safe to say we had a great night) we had to leave at 7am so we madly decided to do an all nighter and saw in the new year with a bang!!!
Overall, the horses were of very high quality and were fabulous to ride. The venue was perfection with exquisite facilities and it was a pleasure to spend the week there. I had a fantastic few days, meeting great people from all over the world, ending in a brilliant result! I would thoroughly recommend student riding to anyone at university!