See results from the 2009 European Championships in Norway here

August 2009

European Para Dressage Championships, Kristiansand, Norway, 20 -24 Aug 09

Planning started a long way in advance in our house.  Indi had a break after Hartpury and then lived on and off in York until the horses were ready to leave on Saturday 15th August.  Victoria Spalding gave him two physio sessions during this time and Louise Broom helped me with my exercises too.

Sue did a great job with Indi – I had to work hard using the hanging cheek snaffle rather than the double but it all started coming together.

James and Sue set off for the Hull to Rotterdam overnight ferry together with four horses, a huge mass of luggage and all the appropriate paper work.  We were then able to track them through Holland, Germany and Denmark and finally they caught the late night ferry to Kristiansand on Monday night.

Me and Mum flew in on Tuesday and arrived at the Rica hotel by lunchtime – minus our big suitcase.  Clothing was very limited until the case turned up on Wednesday evening.  Missing suitcases seemed to be quite the norm but it was quite worrying at the time.

Sue and James had the stables organised and the horses were content.  Helen and Michael arrived on Tuesday afternoon so everyone began decorating the stable area - we were sandwiched between the French and Germans with the Brits and Portuguese further down – so it all became very colourful. 


The new stable curtains were very much admired by everyone – including Princess Martha of Norway.  Thank you so much to Ginette Brogan of John Whitaker International for donating these to the Irish team.

Sue felt the horses were quite tired on Tuesday so they all had a gentle lunge.  It was Wednesday morning before Helen and I made the most of a riding slot in the competition arena and showed Boris and Indi everything they could – this included the trotting horses and sulkies in the Travpark backing onto the Epona Equestrian Centre.

In the afternoon we took our chance to go by minibus to the retail park – mainly to view as the prices were quite staggering (two small pepsis and one small coffee = £10) Fortunately most of the food was already in with the costs for the competition – breakfasts in the hotel were superb and kept us going for a long time each day.

The rest of the Irish – Ann (chef), Lizzie (groom), Donie (trainer), Eilish and Breda (riders) – arrived at 6.30pm – they wanted to ride.  Mum wished she hadn’t gone to watch as Norwegian mosquitoes were out in force and found her to be very tasty!  During the evening we also watched ‘The History of the Horse’ enacted using singers, dancers and of course horses – it was lovely and much thought had gone into the production.

On Thursday morning I rode early and then it was the trot up – always a worrying time and relief when the vet raises his hand and calls pass.  Three horses failed and did not pass when re-presented how awful to come all that way only to be turned down at the very last minute.

Irish Team

The Opening Ceremony unfortunately was a wash out- not because it was poor but literally due to the thunderstorm and torrential rain!  Princess Martha came round the stables in jeans and trainers (it turns out she was a rider) and then a little later returned all dressed for the opening. The Irish team and Ann were all dressed in their Horse Sport Ireland blazers and pale blue cravats – we looked very smart but had nowhere to march due to the weather! 

The weather throughout our stay was very mixed and so everyone was delighted to receive a dark green gilet with a shamrock emblem – thank you so much to Rockfish Riders – even the fur edged hoods came in useful early in the morning and the evening – many people said how nice they were.

Rockfish Riders

Wearing our Rockfish Riders team gilets

By now we knew I was on early for the Team test and this happened throughout the three days – all my  tests were finished before 8.50am.  This is actually good for me and Indi but it did mean no late nights, vey early mornings (5.45am rise!) and missing the good breakfasts at the weekend.

The competitions brought mixed fortunes for the riders but overall everyone had to be pleased with their performances – the team was 9th out of 17 teams.  I was particularly pleased with hmyeighth place in the Individual Championship test as I was realistically aiming to be in the top ten. 

On Friday night four of us ate in the hotel as a special treat – we had a lovely buffet meal – as much as you could eat –the fish and shellfish were particularly tasty.

Everyone got together at the Travpark for the celebration dinner on Saturday evening – again the food was very nice but it was a bit of a scrum to get to it – just too many people trying to eat at the same time.  From the restaurant there was an amazing view over the trotting arena and on Sunday night we watched the trotters whizzing round the course.

The lorry had to be packed and ready by five pm on Sunday evening – how everything fitted in was a miracle.  James and Sue left in the middle of Sunday night for the long journey home.  Thanks so much for looking after Youri, Tula, Boris and Indi so well – certainly Indi came back fighting fit.

We all parted company on Sunday night and set off in various directions on the Monday.  Everyone learned a lot and we all know that the Irish team still have some way to go to reach the dizzy heights of possible medals, but we were all proud to represent our country.  It was a fantastic experience to be part of such an amazing competition.

Thank you Norway – you did us proud.

Thank you support team – you made it all possible.



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