Team GB Student Riders – SRNC Romania

Team GB set off for The Transylvanian Horse Show at Cross Country Farm in Prod, Romania on Wednesday 14th June evening for the Student Riders Nation Cup.  After travelling for ages down bumpy tracks we arrived at the remote but beautiful location and were welcomed with a traditional Romanian dinner by Mihnea, the owner and organiser of the event and his team. 

Team GB included Rosie Alcorn, Laura Simpson and India Wishart (myself), with Harriet Deeming riding as an individual for International Team 2. Lotty and Alex from Liverpool were our support team and our Chef D’equipe is Sophie Hall! 

Thursday was a settle in and acclimatise day with the dressage set for Friday. Cross country farm is set in a stunning location with beautiful countryside and hacking routes that go on forever which we were lucky enough to experience in the morning! The advice to watch out for bear paw prints was slightly alarming, deer we were used to but grizzly’s we weren’t!! The afternoon passed sunbathing and napping, getting some sleep in the bank knowing how little we were going to get in the coming days! As the other teams arrived through the evening the first party of the week, slowly assembled! 

Dressage Day 

Despite a few foggy heads, Team GB dominated dressage day! We had a good draw for our first round, however, our horses ranged from 16.2 to 14.2 – not ideal for a group dressage test! Nevertheless, we managed to pull off a stylish and synchronised performance! Team practice in Cheshire a few weeks beforehand definitely paid off as the 5 minutes warm up period is not enough to get the measure of the horse and practice the test movements together! Harriet posted a great test with her International Team, not easy in a team with two riders she had never ridden with before! 

All four of us qualified for the second round, so after a quick bite to eat and cramming another test we all went to watch the horse demonstration. We all had nice horses, Harriet’s was a little tricky, but we all posted smart accurate tests! However, there were some very good riders in the field so it was a tense wait for results for the semi-final. The announcement that ALL four of us had qualified for the third round was met with much cheering and jumping around – four out of the six riders in the semi-final were from GB!!!! This has got to be a record, but it meant that Sophie’s warming up duties were not over yet – she had an incredibly busy day!! 

Unfortunately, we were drawn against each other because there were so many of us in the third round! Harriet and Rosie were drawn against each other so some Liverpool rivalry set against an unsuspecting German student. Laura and I were drawn against a girl from Austria. Both horses were lovely and seemed established with the movements so it was all about riding a stylish, accurate test! Everyone rode very well, and with the results announced later at the gala dinner on the Saturday night there was no option other than finalists and runners to head to the bar in blissful ignorance of the outcome!! 

By now we were shattered, three dressage tests in a day in the boiling Transylvanian heat! We decided to body-swerve the Dracula routine and go for the prison guard and convict theme at the fancy dress party that night. It almost goes without saying after our day of domination that we won the treasure hunt in the local town around Dracula’s house, before heading back to base for the party. 

Show Jumping Day 

The weather had decided that it didn’t want to co-operate by Saturday so we spent most of the morning hiding from the pouring rain in the marquee. A good draw for the jumping offset some trickier horses. Everyone jumped great rounds with Rosie and Laura having an unlucky pole. Harriet ended up tying joint 1st so had to ride again posting a strong clear which meant she was through to the second round. Sadly, Rosie and Laura missed out, incredibly close for Rosie missing by 0.5. I also got through so it was Harriet and I vs the rest of Europe!

By this point we were absolutely soaked and the arena was incredibly slippery! In order to progress to the third round, the second-round jumping is decided on the least amount of faults first and style marks second in the event of a tie. Harriet jumped a lovely clear round, but another rider also jumped a clear so we had to wait until the gala dinner to see if she was through to the semi’s. I was pipped to the post to finish second out of three on my horse by the Spanish boy who had two rails down to my three on a slightly careless horse! 

We then spent the afternoon fence judging for the Pre Novice and Novice classes at the event also run alongside the SRNC. The course was beautifully prepared but we had a lack of waterproofs and umbrellas for a few hours fence judging in the pouring rain! There were some lovely horses and riders but there need seem to be a local need for speed which caused a few hands over eyes moments!!  

It was another quick turnaround to get ready for the gala dinner at an impressive restaurant in the local town. The food was delicious so we took advantage of the all you can eat buffet and free wine! Results time ..!! Harriet had got through to the jumping semi-finals and I had made it through to the dressage final with Maxime from Germany!! It suddenly dawned on me that I had to learn one Prix St George dressage test and one freestyle test by 9am tomorrow morning! 

We headed back to Cross Country Farm for the party and at 5am we decided it was probably time for bed. However, the Germans had other ideas and their sabotage of the British succeeded in ensuring that we didn’t get to bed until 6.30am! 

Finalists Day 

7.30am our alarms went off! I dragged Sophie out of bed to help me learn my tests (sorry!!). Luckily, we were using the same horses from the semi-final. Both tests went well, it was great fun riding a freestyle to an adaptation of Charlotte Dujardin’s music from London 2012 with a great floorplan thanks to Sophie – although it was just a shame that I wasn’t riding Valegro!! Maxime also did two good tests but we had to wait for the results at prize giving! 

Harriet was absolutely on fire in the jumping – an incredibly speedy clear meant she was also through to the jumping final! She rode beautifully, jumping clear on her first horse and had a couple of poles on her second in torrential rain, by now the arena was an absolute mud bog!

Prize giving was as successful as the week had been – we won Team Gold in the dressage, I won individual gold, Rosie bronze, Laura 4th and Harriet 5th!! We finished 6th in the show jumping with Harriet claiming individual silver and I finished 10th. Harriet ended up winning combined gold individually, I won silver, Rosie 10th and Laura 18th.  However, we had no idea where we were going to finish in team standings so we were over the moon when it was announced we had won silver just behind the Germans!! 

A huge thank you has to go to Mihnea and his team alongside all the owners for providing such lovely horses – the event was run incredibly professionally with great facilities and everyone is incredibly keen for it to continue next year!! 

Another massive thank you to Chef, Sophie for organising us before and during the week making sure we were in the right place at the right time as well as giving us all expert advice whilst warming up. Lotty and Alex were amazing, providing a lot of entertainment at the parties and cheering us along during the competition. By the end of the week we had run out of dry clothes and most of us were coming down with AIEC flu so we were keen to get back to our beds and to catch up on Love Island – with no phone signal at all we were very behind!! 

This was both mine and Laura’s first SRNC so we were very lucky to have such a great first experience in Romania with lovely people – we are all looking forward to our next one! 

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