On the 29th December the Great Britain Team made up of National Representative Sophie Hall, Chef Lauren Innes, and riders Alicia Wilkinson, Harriet Deeming and Cameron Beer all met up in London and travelled together on the Eurostar. We arrived in Amsterdam a day before the competition to see a few sights. We met up with the Irish squad and walked around the red light district which was unreal – a true once in a lifetime experience which was very eye opening! The following day we went to this amazing museum called “Ripley’s: believe it or not”, we spent hours walking around it, learning all about the marvellous discoveries Mr. Ripley made during his lifetime. From a portrait of Vincent van Gogh made of toast, to the world’s tallest man, there was everything imaginable! We were all so enthralled that we had to rush to get the same train as the Irish but sadly missed it. Nevertheless, we got the next one with the most hilarious ticket inspectors who couldn’t wait to get their Team GB photos with us!! We finally arrived at the Helmond destination station to be collected but ‘where were the Irish’?!? They had got on the wrong train!! Oh dear!
On the 31st December the competition began! Our first draw was against Spain and USA. Whilst the competition was tough, team GB produced a lovely test which meant two of the three riders were through to the second round! Alicia and Cameron both did super tests in the afternoon but unfortunately neither got through to the finals. However, Sophie and Lauren assured us we pulled off a great performance and to enjoy the rest of the evening. That night was the Gala night which was great fun. We were spoilt with a beautiful venue and a delicious three course meal before we had a few fireworks on the the hour of New Year.
The following day we walked the showjumping course. Taking on-board Sophie and Laurens advice we all jumped nice rounds with Harriet going through to the Second Round. Sadly, she drew a very large warmblood and as a smaller rider she was just slightly outsized. Therefore, she didn’t get through to the next round on finals day. That night was the themed evening and this one was “Make Student Riding Great!” so little to say but there were a lot of Trumps!!! All the Brits were Trumps and Ireland were Mexicans with one Trump!!! We had a lot of pictures taken which was hilarious and it was great to see how imaginative the teams were.
Overall the team came away with a fantastic team Silver with individual 4th and joint 5th in the dressage. They also won team 6th showjumping with individual 9th and combined team 4th with individual 8th and 9th. We are really pleased with the result but very excited to see what 2017 will bring with a new training plan and enhanced commitment to improving team performance. We all had an incredible time and have really built some incredible friendships; national and international. Student Riding is a great thing to be part of and I would recommend it to every keen riding student.
A huge thank you to everyone who helped organise the event, provide such lovely horses for us to ride and to our NR for giving us this opportunity. A further thank you also to the British Equestrian Federation and Westgate EFI Gatehouse for providing us with such fantastic kit for the event; your support is invaluable and made our whole experience that much better.