Dressage riders who have been competing on the Spanish Sunshine tour near Jerez, Spain, are facing uncertainty about their return journey home.

Restrictions on animal movements in France are posing a huge problem to riders who are trying to head for home. Most riders are still on the showground where they are allowed to stay indefinitely, although there is the worry for how long they may have to stay and the added concern as to what will happen if there is an outbreak of the disease in Spain.

Lizzie Murray was the first to leave the showground on Wednesday (14 March) and is now in Madrid working out her next move.

She has five horses with her, including the stallions Catherston Humbug, liberator and Decipher. Current rules say that if they leave Madrid, the boxes have to travel non-stop, except for refuelling, to Calais ¨ a 20-hour journey and also dictate that the boxes are not allowed to carry bedding or food.

An alternative route being proposed is to drive to Barcelona, then on into Aachen before driving on to Calais.

Lizzie is believed to also be investigating the possibility of a flight home for the horses, but needs at least a total of 12 to make this viable.

Her mother Jennie Loriston Clarke, who is currently in touch with Lizzie, said: “We are in absolute turmoil not knowing what we’re doing. If we can’t organise the flight, the more sensible option is to drive through Germany, as we are concerned about the horses on the longer journey.

“As they are not allowed off the lorry and there is no bedding, we are worried about them not staling and the possibility of travel-sickness.”

British horse transporters are currently looking into the travel possibilities and say that the situation is changing day by day.

They say that the options include remaining in Spain, a long non-stop drive through France, a 36-hour ferry trip, via the Bay of Biscay or a chartered plane journey.