Dressage riders who have been competing in the Sunshine Tour in Spainarrived home on Sunday night having chartered a plane from Madrid to Luton to fly home 15 horses.

The stringent rules imposed by France due to FMD left the riders heading for home with difficult travelling decisions.

France had declared that horseboxes could only travel through France once they had been sprayed inside and out with caustic soda and provided they carried no feed or bedding.

The horses were not allowed to be unloaded at anytime and had to be driven non-stop from the Spanish border through to Calais – a 20-hour journey.

The riders could have chosen a longer route taking several days from Barcelona through Germany although using shorter daily journeys.

The dressage riders took the decision to charter a plane through travelagents Pedens. The grooms and lorries are currently travelling home by ferry from Santander to Plymouth.

Lizzie Murray was one of the first to leave the showground near Jerez, with five horses including the three Catherston stallions Humbug, Liberator and Decipher, and drove to Madrid where she stabled for several nights while the options were discussed.

She said, “We decided it was not worth the risk totravel the horses through France for so long without feed or bedding and the thought of a breakdown on either routes filled us with dread.

“Pedens were really helpful and Henry Bullen was fantastic he even flew out to make sure we all got on the plane alright. It feels like we have been away for a year and I am very glad to have got the horses home. ”

After a further show jumping competition over the weekend in Jerez, British show jumpers are in the process of returning and currently assessing the travelling options available.