Finally, no alarm! Gradually we all woke up and enjoyed some nice English bacon for breakfast before continuing with our games of cards. We remembered that we all had bikes in the lorry which we didn’t have space to take to Fontainbleau so we mounted the bikes and went on an adventure around the small village. It is always hard coming back from a championships like that. The friendships and memories made will be cherished forever. It is something we had all dreamt of for years and years. It is something that we had trained hard for every day for the last few months. We had put our everything into getting to that one week of competition. Coming down from a high like that when it has been your focus is always going to be hard, but that morning, being able to spend time with the other girls made it all a bit easier. Finally, the horses arrived back, all feeling very well. After unpacking and checking Smarty was all good, it was time to say goodbyes. Emotional hugs for everyone then began, with myself not being able to thank everyone enough for everything they had done.
Driving home, despite the excitement of what I had just achieved I did have a big sinking feeling in my stomach. That was it, I was out of Juniors. When I had dreamt of trying for Juniors as a 13 year old I had never imagined I would make it. There I was sat in the lorry having returned from my second European Championship and with a medal around my neck. I knew that I was going to miss everyone in Juniors, the memories I had made and the experiences I was fortunate enough to gain. I felt like the luckiest person around to have been able to have the most incredible 2 years. Instead of dwelling on what I would miss, I reminded myself of what was to come. Now I was a Young Rider, more challenges, more new experiences, more new people. Smarty will have a small holiday before going to Pony Club areas for Dressage and SJ and he will be off to Millstreet for the CCI2*, my first event at this level and at a venue where so many memories have already been made at my first Europeans. If my time as a Young Rider is half as amazing as my years as a Junior, I will count myself the luckiest person in the world.
As we drove back home, there was still excitement and pride still buzzing inside me, but now a new feeling of anticipation of what the next chapter of my riding career would be.
For anyone considering trying for Ponies, Juniors, Young Riders, or any other team, I can only recommend that you completely go for it. I never thought I was good enough but still decided to give it my all. It is an experience like no other so all I can advise is that you give it your best shot, pick yourself up when things don’t go to plan, and ride those high moments like they’re the only ones you’ll ever have.