TEAM GB STUDENT RIDERS

With university over for Katy Cooper and myself (Amy Wadmore), as newbies to GB student riders and the world of SRNCs, it was a great way to end our time at university by having the opportunity to compete for Team GB in Lund, Sweden. We were joined by Jess Campbell acting as Chef D’equipe for Team GB who had previously competed at student rider competitions, including Germany and the world finals held in Florida last year. Jess somehow manages to juggle a hectic life as a final year veterinary student at the RVC alongside having her own horses at home, so we were fortunate she was allowed the time off to compete with us. With no supporters joining us at this years competition (boo!) we made sure we got involved with the other teams and ended up having a great relationship with our fellow Dutch team (compromising of Yoss, Daphne, Marlieze, Marije and Mark).

 

Our SRNC journey began on the Wednesday evening where Jess kindly invited both myself and Katy to the yard she works and keeps her horses at to practice riding through the team test ready for the Friday morning.

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Luckily Katy and myself had been fortunate enough to ride a team test together before, as we had competed as individuals at BUCS Nationals and knew each other well from being in the same region for our BUCS competitions representing our universities (UWE and RAU).

3The training session to run through the team test proved to be much needed as we repeated the movements many times until we were satisfied with our timings and distances. By the end we were quite impressed with our mock performance and felt confident for the competition ahead.

By late Wednesday evening we were packed and set for our early flight to Copenhagen the following morning (a 5:15am start is far too early for any person to function properly in my opinion!) The plan was to fly to Copenhagen and spend the day being tourists until we could get a train over to Lund at 6pm when the teams were starting to arrive. This provided us a great opportunity to get to know each other properly as none of us really knew each other prior to the day before.

In the evening the Swedish OC kindly picked us up from Lund train station and took us back to the accommodation where many teams had already started to set up base. We were all based in a large dojo (Martial arts building) minutes away from riding centre and in traditional SRNC style were all given blow up mattresses to sleep on during our stay. Unfortunately for me, I seemed to have pulled a short straw and my bed had a slow puncture, so I ended up spending two of the nights in my sleeping bag on the floor!

As Jess only knew a few familiar faces, we all spent our first night getting to know all of the other riders and their supporters from the 11 other countries that were attending, putting us on good ground ready for the 1st day of competition.

Friday morning came round far too quickly after a late night of socializing, and game faces were on by all 17ready for the draw of the first round of the dressage. We were drawn last to go on our horses which could either work out in our favour by allowing us to watch the horses in two other tests, or against us as the horses would be tired. Unfortunately for us it was the later and I drew a 24 year old horse who had a naturally high head carriage and was completely dead to the leg (and whip) by the time I got on… As for the others Jess rode a sweet grey horse in the directing position (middle) and Katy rode a challenging and sensitive horse at the back.

Our team test went fairly well considering I could barely get my horse to go forward and some nice moments were noted by us all, however Jess was the only rider to make it through to the 2nd round of the dressage.

For the second round Jess was drawn on a gorgeous black dressage horse which turned many heads! Its gorgeous floaty movements definitely made it Jess’ most enjoyable ride! As a result Jess made it through to the semi final to be held on the Sunday.

Entertainment for the evening was a ‘freshers style’ cultural activity known by the Swedish as ‘nolling’. 14All the teams were put into larger mixed groups and were given a theme to dress up as. We were designated as ‘cowboys’, which luckily didn’t involve much effort compared to some of the others. The activity involved walking around Lund and completing many of the set tasks as a group, to win as many points as possible. Some of the tasks were crazy and we had to take many weird and wonderful photos/videos as evidence. Including, doing a crab walk across a zebra crossing and even swimming in the local fountain!

It was so much fun and was definitely the most enjoyable evening during the trip, the Swedish OC did an amazing job in their organization and creativity and everyone seemed to love it.

Showjumping day wasn’t too successful for any of us. We drew a nice selection of horses (2 of which hadn’t actually been broken for very long but were great jumpers) and I was on a large chunky chestnut that normally competes at 1.30m level. I unfortunately had 1 pole down, and Jess had an unlucky refusal. Katy however, had a very stylish round on a lovely mare that she suited and we were shocked she didn’t manage to get through to the next round, she narrowly missed out by less than 1 mark.

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Friday evening was gala night and we had a very tasty 3 course meal at a local 4* hotel followed by a live band. After dinner, riders through to the semi final of the dressage and showjumping were announced and excitingly Jess was through to the 3rd round dressage.

Sunday arrived and Jess was ready for the 3rd round of dressage. She had drawn a large mare that normally competes at 2* level eventing with a former student rider and was used in the previous days 2nd round showjumping. Jess round a nice test but the other riders also rode well and we were unsure of how the results would stand.

Amazingly Jess was through to the final and everything turned a bit manic! Due to none of us expecting to get so far in the competition we didn’t have a floor plan for the freestyle test and Jess and other fellow riders from other countries helped to create a test in the space of around 20 minutes! We also had no music but fortunately I had done some preparation prior to the competition and found a selection of music that suited each of the three paces.

The horses for the final were suitable for the level asked although looked quite challenging. Jess rode two accurate and flowing tests and we believed looked hopeful to win the dressage individually.

Prize-giving came round quickly and we looked very smart in our new matching Gatehouse hats provided by Westgate EFI.

We were nicely surprised to come 3rd in the dressage as a team and Jess did incredibly well to come 1st individually in the dressage and overall 9th combined!

We were also pleased to win the cultural activity with the other ‘cowboys’ of the group and won some funky green bunny ears.

Overall, the event was impeccably organized and the Swedish OC did so well to run such a great SRNC enjoyed by all. It was an amazing experience to have at my first SRNC and we all left with a new bunch of international friends! I would highly recommend going to any SRNC even as a supporter as you’re guaranteed to leave having had a great time.

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