Well our visit to Ede CCI** in Holland was certainly an adventure! We probably bit off a bit more than we could chew, but we enjoyed it all the same. It was only my second time abroad so to be taking the lorry, horse and ourselves to Holland was quite a task. We left Sunday night, stabled with friends in Exeter, then travelled Monday to Dover and across on the ferry to Calais.

I was worried about the ferry because Sarnita isn’t great with loud noises so I bought her a hat and sewed some extra padding in to the ears for her. You can’t stay with them on the ferry but other than removing the hat (which didn’t do much for her image evidently) she appeared to be quite relaxed when we got back, happily eating her hay. Once in France we managed to get lost trying to find the stables where we spent the night. Finally we arrived at the event and parked next to Tamsin Hutchins from Cornwall — we travelled all that way and parked next to one of my closest event riders!

Having only ever done one three-day before at Weston, Ede was a big contrast. It was extremely relaxed, no sign of a vet to check passports or a secretary until the day after we arrived. The first fence was beside the stables and people lunged and rode beside it — I’m fairly sure nobody would have noticed if it was used as a practice fence.

When I rode Sarnie on Wednesday, she was slightly unsound. I immediately panicked imagining damaged tendons or some serious injury. Luckily by this time the Wiegersma’s had arrived and decided that a skin problem in her heel was causing the problem. Some antibiotic cream helped and by trot up on Thursday she was fine. The trot up was very laid back with a lot of the continentals wearing their riding or grooming gear.

We had Friday dressage. She worked in fairly well, then I made one of my first major cock ups of the weekend. I showed the judge my number, the bell went and I started. There were four arenas and guess who promptly did a beautiful centre line in the wrong arena!!! A very red faced rider then re-entered the correct arena for a score of 60, which wasn’t too bad considering the continental dressage is generally very good.

The cross-country course asked a few questions but was not too technical or huge on lovely sandy going. My cross-country time was 6.45pm so I was like a cat on hot bricks all day. Eventually it was our turn. I knew I needed a fast clear and she gave me a super ride. The corner at fence three was causing a few problems, but she locked on and flew it. We had our first slight mistake at the coffin. There were four or five strides between the elements, with part c at 90 degrees to the rest of the fence. She locked on to the three-star final element by mistake and I only just managed to turn in time for her to jump it at an angle.

There were four jumps into water on the course, which worried me as she has always been a bit careful with water. Anyway she did the first two jumps into water well. Back into the woods we met a loose horse ambling along the track — I avoided him and kept a beady eye out for the rider, who I found sitting with the jump judge at the next fence. We approached the next water a bit fast. I sat up, kicked and she jumped the two elements in really boldly, but unfortunately the earlier rain had made the water a bit deep which caused her to flounder. Being so honest she focused on the next fence and kept going, but unfortunately she focused on the three-star fence. I couldn’t get her back on track so managed to pull her up in front of the fence, turned her and jumped the correct option off one stride, then kicked on into the next water by which time I had lost my position and nearly took an early bath! I managed to get my stirrups and reins back then kicked on home.

We completed the course with only 4.4 time penalties, which was one of the fastest times of the day. I appealed the 20 penalties I was given in the last water as I did not present at the two-star option initially or cross my tracks and after much discussion the 20 penalties were removed. This moved us up from 30th to 11th.

The less said the better about show jumping day. The course wasn’t huge and generally jumped well. We had a little bit of a lazy rail at fence two, then at the last fence I asked for a totally impossible stride that was never there and she had no chance. I was so cross with myself and I felt I badly let her down she is a good show jumper and both rails were my fault.

If you told me at the beginning of the week I would finish 16th I would have bitten your hand off, but as my bad riding caused us to drop after the final phase I was a bit disappointed. However we are now half qualified for a three-star and her cross-country was great, so it is a huge step in the right direction.