It has been a busy few weeks for Brand Ambassador Mari, lets hear about her very successful recent trip to Belgium

After finding out we had been selected for Waragem CPEDI3*, Belgium…………………

The mammoth packing journey started.

We had two British Equestrian Federation trunks that everything had to fit into, and we needed a list of everything that had been packed, all recorded on a carnet for customs.

Once the trunks were partially packed, I had to pack. The essentials went in, my Soho Dusky Blue breeches, white competition shirts, white competition breeches and my Soho socks.

Thankfully Athene’s food didn’t need to go in the trunk! We managed to fit everything in and now it was just a matter of putting the final pieces in when we got to South Bucks.

 3 days before Athene left, we started taking her temperature in the am and pm and continued to do this for the duration of our trip.

Waregem Adventure

Monday 15th April

We arrived in Kent at about 2pm and were greeted by the GB team. Athene settled into her mansion straight away. The trunks and Athene’s other items were all put aside ready to load onto the transporter when it arrived later that evening. All the 3 horses that were travelling in the transporter arrived. The vet arrived and started to do the paperwork. The horses were all trotted up to make sure that they were good to travel, Athene looked fantastic. Kate the Physio checked them all over before they travelled; she was very happy with Athene.


The transporter arrived and the whole team got together packing the lorry and so the process was very quick. Last to go on was my scooter Quinny. The horses had their dinner and breakfasts were put out for the morning. We set off to go and find our hotel where we were staying for the night. We soon arrived checked in and went for dinner with Rob before going to bed as it was a very early start the next morning.

Tuesday 16th April

We woke up just after 4am and headed to the yard. The horses had already had breakfast and when we got there Ian the Farrier was taping their shoes.

Athene had a bag for travelling which had all her essentials in it. The horses were loaded; Rob was travelling with the horses so he got on board and off they went. We then went back to the hotel to have some breakfast before checking out and making our way to the Eurotunnel.

After doing the checks at Sevington the horses arrived at the Eurotunnel; we were all catching the same train. 

The crossing was very short and before we knew it we were in France. It took us just over an hour to drive to Belgium and we arrived at the show venue. I had previously been here five years ago, and it was amazing to be back. The weather was very wet; so wet that unfortunately most of there temporary stabling had flooded!

The horses had to go to customs in France to check the carnet and then on for vet checks so they were a bit behind us.

They arrived at the venue and came off the lorry to be checked by the show vet, had their temperatures taken and soon settled into their permanent stables. After unpacking the lorry and physio trailer completely; the horses went for a leg stretch Athene took this as her opportunity to have a much-deserved roll in the indoor school, she was no longer black!

She then tucked into her haylage and enjoyed checking out her new surroundings. We arranged arena familiarisation slots for the next day, checked the horses had settled in and then went to find our hotel.

Rob just about fitted into Fergus; it was a tight squeeze. We found the hotel; the hotel parking was a challenge everyday as it was so narrow, and Fergus is so high. The first time we drove in we thought we were going to lose the roof but thanks to Rob’s positivity we made it through in one piece! We checked into our rooms and then headed for dinner as it was getting late.

Rob the vet and Ian the farrier kindly agreed to go and do the late-night check so that we could stay at the hotel in the warm as it was a bit of a drive. It was then bedtime.

Wednesday 17th April

Arena familiarisation; first time in the competition arena. Rob warmed Athene up; she looked good. It was my turn we were all a bit tired so not our best session. But Athene was fantastic, and we got a feel for the field of play. I was wearing my Soho Dusky Blue Breeches.

Thursday 18th April

Arena familiarisation: second time and trot up. Our slot was early in the day, and we had a fantastic session. I was much more awake, and Athene felt super, and we had a chance to run through some test movements.

Next up the trot up Athene looked beautiful thanks to Rob and we were ready to go; she flew through the trot up along with the other GB horses.

Friday 19th April

First day of competition; Grand Prix A.

We weren’t competing until 5pm! We stayed at the hotel and Rob went to the venue. We then went to watch Nicola one of my teammates who did a lovely test in awful weather conditions. I even managed to fit in a gym session before having Physio.

Time flies and Rob was on warming up Athene. It was my turn and she felt awesome. The bell went and we went into our test. We were really pleased with; it could have just had a bit more power in places, but I was accurate, and we nailed nearly all our halts. Our score came up and it was a good one we were in 2nd with a few left to go. We remained in 2nd and three of the judges had me in 1st.


Saturday 20th April

Second day of competition; Grand Prix B

Athene was really forward in the warm up and we carried this through to the test; we perhaps just had a bit too much forwardness! Again, another accurate test and nailed all three halts.

Our score came up and it was another good one and we had gone into 2nd and stayed there. We headed off to lunch; we could walk, well scooter, to the nearest supermarket. We then went back to watch Nicola and the other grade 4 riders, and the sun even came out.

Our class was big but as I had come 2nd I had got through to the music; the top 8 riders go through.

So, it was time for the music sound check and the Nations Cup prize giving.

I was delighted to be on the Nations Cup Team with Nicola and Gabby; we came 3rd, which was great as we were a team of three; so no drop score. We were in the team prize giving and got some lovely prizes.

Unfortunately, the weather decided this was the perfect time to start raining heavily again just as the music sound check started!

Erik, Nina, Rob and my mum Sue with the winner Athene

Sunday 21st April

Last day of competition; Freestyle Test and leaving to travel back to Kent.

I was on the earliest I had been all week, so it was a rushed morning! Rob had gone to the venue already (like he did most days). So, we had breakfast, moved everything out of our rooms into Fergus and then headed to the venue. No human Physio which we had been lucky enough to have on all the other days. It was a massive help and I missed it today.

We were running a bit late; I hate being late! But Rob had started to get Athene ready and she was having her Physio with Kate and doing her activations (which she had everyday). I put on my hat, jacket, stock and boots; I already had on my Soho competition shirt, breeches and socks. Rob went to warm Athene up, she looked amazing. Whilst Rob was warming her up I had my yazoo (gives me energy) and did my warm up (my light activation work), put on my lycra gloves and white gloves. I scootered from the viewing area to the arena to get on; I had my nice heated gillet on keeping me  warm as it was so cold! Rob warmed her up for 15 minutes but has to be off 15 minutes before I am due in the arena, so he walks her around until its time for me to get on. Nina helped with the coaching all week.

It was time for me to get on board, Athene felt brilliant. We did a few shoulder ins as we have them in my music test. I only warm her up for about five minutes as that’s all we need and to preserve my energy for the test.

My dad Nick, my mum Sue, Rob and Erik on the way to the Field of play

We got our 3-minute call, it took 3 minutes to get to the field of play. We arrived and walked around the arena until the judge rang the bell. We were allowed to walk in the field of play with Rob beside us as we couldn’t go around the outside. The bell went and my music started…………………………………

I was really pleased with my test; all my compulsory movements came off. It was super windy, and I must admit I struggled to hear my music and so we finished a bit early. After the test Athene had her tack check before heading back to the stable area. Kate and dad helped me to safely arrive back at my scooter.

Gabby is also a Grade 1 and so I hadn’t managed to see her previous two tests; but managed to zoom over to watch her Freestyle.

The wait for my mark seemed to take ages but when it went up it went to the top of the leaderboard 77.6%. I couldn’t believe it but the winner from the last two days was still to go, we watched her test and then headed off to go and see Athene. The class was finished at this point and there was a break until the next class.

I went to the toilet and when I came back Rob was running over in my direction pointing, it took me a while to realise it meant I had won; lots of cuddles followed!! I had just been greeted by our chef Erik to say well done when I was called for an anti-doping test as I had won it meant that I had been chosen. I had to provide a urine sample and then it was time to get ready for the prize giving, the glamorous side of being an athlete!!

I finally managed to go and tell Athene we had won, Rob was busy getting her ready for the prize giving. Athene walked over early as she needed to go and get her winner’s rug.

Prize giving was done in grade order, so we had a little wait. We were called in and had to wait until all 8 of us were in the arena. We were all in scooters/wheelchairs or sitting on chairs. They then announced us as the winners; Athene was standing behind me and they played the national anthem, a very proud moment and I sang along. We were then presented with the prizes, I got some lovely flowers that are still going strong, a rosette, prize money, carrots, and a gold rosette. I then got given a bag of full of other prizes. Athene came close so we would get some nice photos. Then Athene left and we made our way out of the arena with more music.


 The lorry arrived to take us home; Steve, the amazing transporter got to see our prize giving. Team effort in loading up the lorry and again it was done super-fast. My scooter was loaded so I sat in Fergus, lucky me as yet again it was raining! All the horses loaded up well and were on their way back to Kent. Fergus was very full; I had won a lot of prizes but we all just about fitted in including Rob and made our way to the Euro tunnel.

We arrived back in Kent and Rob went home straight away as he had to get home for his flight the next day. We stayed at the yard and awaited the arrival of the of the horses, they weren’t far behind us.

Once back the horses were settled into their stables. We then had to unpack the horsebox. Me, Mum, Dad, Rob T and Steve got the job done. We emptied the trunks and loaded most of our items into our lorry so we wouldn’t have much to do in the morning. We took the horses for a leg stretch and then gave them their dinner.

Before heading back to the hotel we got a MacDonalds as it was so late and then went to bed.

Monday 22nd April

We woke up, had breakfast and then headed over to collect Athene. Ian was there to wave us off and help us pack the last few bobs into the lorry. We loaded Athene up and me and dad left in the lorry to head back to South Bucks.

Mum stayed behind to muck Athene out so we could get on the road.

The first thing Athene did when she got home was go into the indoor school and have a roll. She then went back out in the field and enjoyed telling all the South Bucks ponies about her adventure.


Great Britain won the Nicest Team Award


May 13, 2024