I’m writing this from Ermelo in the Netherlands, in between cooking sausages on the barbeque, having arrived with the rest of the British team for the young rider European championships.

We all drove over on Friday, hitting hideous afternoon traffic on the M25. Dawn, who is grooming for me, and I had four horses in our lorry and there were another four in Emile Faurie’s, plus a nine seater van went ahead with the other riders. We were planning to get the 8:30pm ferry from Dover but some festival that was on in the Netherlands was causing traffic so we only managed the 9:50pm.

Then it took 6hrs to drive from Calais to Ermelo, stopping a few times to give the horses rest and water along the way. They all travelled really well and have settled in well. There’s indoor stables, automatic drinkers and everything is really close together so it’s easy to get around the site.

On Sunday, we went into Amsterdam and visited the red-light district. That was educational! I’d never realised quite how blatant it is, no watershed or anything, with girls sat in windows all day. And the most prominent smell down the streets is marijuana. I’m not sure Amsterdam’s the prettiest city in the world, but I can see why it’s well known…

Then on Monday we all got to go to Edward Gal’s yard and watched him ride Totilas, which was amazing. He’s so athletic and responsive, submissive but not hot or crazy — really impressive. It was nice to see Edward doesn’t ride him at full power at home, and he doesn’t work him with his head right down — mind you he couldn’t in passage as the horse’s knees would hit his nose!

I’ve been on a couple of runs since I got out here as the days are long and there’s not a huge amount to do in between riding. You may remember me talking about getting healthier, trying to consider myself as an athlete as well as my horse? Well this idea included not drinking, and I announced my new restraint on this blog. However, I actually only managed a week. I was in the bar at Hartpury, and I did start with a diet coke, but when you tell your body it can’t have something (beer) it really craves it. So I have a new plan, drinking less and in moderation. At the moment I seem to be able to stick to that…

Nemo is going really well out here; he’s surprisingly fit and I’m working him for about 50mins a day. He sailed through the trot up this morning — all our team horses are through. There’s a great team spirit here. I’m the third rider in the team to go, so I’ll be on this Thursday. And I’ll let you know how I get on after that.

Charlie