On Sunday morning we finished polishing everything and packing it all in our lorry. After Smarty had spent a few hours in the field we booted him up, put him in the lorry, and headed down to Canterbury, where Parkers, the horse transport company, was based. Parkers would then take all the horses and all our kit in one lorry together to the championships.
Once the long and hot process of packing the transport lorry was over, we had a chance to meet our groom for the week. There is one groom per two riders and I had the same groom as I had last year, Shelly Gilbert. Having a groom is an incredible experience and very unusual for someone who normally does everything, I knew Smarty would be in good hands and luckily Shelly knew about his addiction to ginger biscuits!
We received all our lovely kit from Musto and Racesafe, who so brilliantly sponsor the Junior program and the BEF. Then we took all the horses for a quick trot up with the team physio and vet so that they could have a last minute check for any potential areas of weakness and assess if there was anything else they could be doing that might enhance performance. Despite having a very sound horse, I always find trot-ups very nerve-wracking so I was happy to have got that done and out of the way.
After a long day we were all ready for some dinner which was a lovely BBQ cooked by the parents. This allowed us to sit down alongside the Young Rider team and start to get to know each other which was really nice and a good opportunity for some team bonding.
We did night checks on our horses and at the same time the team physio gave all the horses a pre-travel therapy session so that they were not standing on the horse box for hours with anything at all sore. One of the best things about competing at a championships has to be the incredible care that each horse receives, whatever they need to help them be more comfortable and compete at their best they get, it is truly amazing.
With all the horses settled in the stables for the night, we all rushed off to try and find lorries which had satellite signal so we could watch Love Island (!!!), unfortunately only one of the lorries had strong enough signal in, so the 5 Juniors climbed into this lorry with the 6 Young Riders along with various family members. With 14 people crammed into a lorry it was not the most relaxing viewing of a TV show but it was great to get to know each other even more and to really get the conversations flowing. As soon as Love Island was over we all headed to our own lorries to get an early night before a very early alarm.