< PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED AND THE WINNER HAS BEEN SENT THEIR TICKETS >Badminton Horse Trials
- the pinnacle of the British Eventing calendar, and an iconic stage for the world's top horses and riders to perform at the highest level.
After the disappointment of 2012's event being cancelled, tickets for 2013's event are even more in demand - and you could be there to witness the live action, up close and personal for free! I'm giving away 2 admission tickets, and a car pass
to 1 lucky winner for the cross country day on Sunday 5th May
So how can you be in it to win it? Just follow these simple steps:
- 'Like' the Headstrong Equestrian Facebook Page
- 'Like' the Kilminster's Equestrian and Pet Supplies Page
- Answer this simple question: What is the name of the FMBs Therapy Systems rug I've been using to help Ruby with her rehabilitation? (See my other blogs for the answer!) Send your answer via the 'Contact us' page, along with your name, address and a contact number. Good luck!
Your details will be used to contact you if you have won, and will not be passed on to any 3rd parties. There is no cash alternative, in the event of cancellation an alternative prize will be sourced by Headstrong Equestrian. You are responsible for making your own way to the event. 1 winner will be drawn at random at the official launch event of Kilminster's Equestrian and Pet Supplies
on 27th April, and will be notified immediately afterwards. Tickets will be sent 1st class recorded delivery.
On 22 September, I went to Bricky Horse Trials as ‘an owner,’ to watch my ex racer Monty (King’s Mountain) compete in his first affiliated ODE. Monty has been on full loan to Amber Mael in Wimbourne since about June of this year, and has been training and competing at unaffiliated shows with this as his end goal. Amber is a professional freelance rider and instructor in her own right, and has a preference for Thoroughbreds, so she was the perfect match for Monty.
It was a rather early start for all involved, and pretty chilly too! They were taking part in the BE90 class, and their dressage was due to start just 8.30, so it was nice and quiet for him. Monty is a typical TB and can get quite hot in certain environments, but he looked nice and calm as he warmed up; not sweaty, just focussed and balanced, but he didn’t fancy standing still for too long. They produced what was, to my mind, a pleasing test in which Monty looked as though he was much less tense than he has been in the past – just with the odd wobble when he had a look at some of the white boards as he passed, but Amber quickly corrected him. We were all pleased with the performance.
After an hour or so back at the lorry and a change of tack and clothing, they went to pop a few fences before the SJ. I was struck by how quiet and relaxed the environment was – much more horse friendly than some I’ve been to, and not jam packed full of people and horses which can be really distracting. He warmed up nicely, and other than 1 Monty classic (if in doubt, take one out!) he jumped in a lovely rhythm, and he ended with a large oxer which really allowed him to use his back and make a nice shape. He flew it beautifully so they left it at that, and went through to the arena to start their round. He completed the course with an easy clear, but we were slightly disappointed to hear that his dressage score was 47.5. I think we’d all expected better than that given the performance, but it sounded as though there were quite a few 40+ scores given so not a disaster.
Another change of clothing before the final xc phase. This mostly involved me running round like a headless chicken; Amber’s dad kindly pointed out where I could watch some of the course, but because I’d not walked the course, once that bit was done I trotted off to see if I could find where they would be going next! I managed to see 3 or 4 different sections of the course which was great, and Monty looked controlled and rhythmical throughout. Amber had been playing round with different bitting solutions as Monty has proved pretty keen across country and thankfully the Tom Thumb seemed to do the trick. They finished clear but with a few time penalties to add making it a double clear that would earn them 15th place, and a Foundation Point – a super effort for his BE debut!
I felt really proud of Monty, and pleased too because I’d always felt he would be an amazing eventer – and this was by all accounts a great start. His jumping is so bold and exuberant that he has plenty of scope to move up the levels, and having spent a year on loan with Sharon Kilminster doing pure dressage meant he now had the flatwork in place too. His main issue would be getting him out competing on a regular basis; having not had the transport, he had very limited outings so sometimes he found the competition environment quite exciting! Having had him out most weekends since she had him, Amber had Monty looking like an old pro and it was a delight to see him so relaxed and taking it all in his stride.
Not only that but I could see an improvement in his SJ too – a testament to the work put in at home. I felt like a very proud mum and was also pleased to see that Amber and Monty had formed a really great partnership. It was an interesting experience spectating; when competing myself I usually end up with my stomach in knots from being excited and nervous too, but I felt completely relaxed throughout; perhaps also a reflection of being around people who compete so regularly that it’s all a very well planned affair! Amber also had a very good groom in her Dad, who was on hand to help; glad I’m not the only one with a superstar unpaid groom or 2!
Bricky was a lovely venue, Monty was as gorgeous as ever, and the result was a good one. Having made his debut and performed comfortably, they will now head to Larkhill to do the BE100. The height of the fences shouldn’t be an issue for him, and Amber actually felt the dressage was a bit easy for him, so a step up would require more concentration for hopefully a better dressage.
My first experience as an ‘owner’ was a good one, and I quite enjoyed running round with my camera in my hand without the stress of competing! I can’t wait to watch Amber and Monty at Larkhill which is my local event, and will look forward to their progress over the winter months as they prepare for the 2013 eventing season. Having said that, I’m certainly not ready to remain a spectator completely, and I can’t wait to get my butt in the saddle and out competing myself. Nothing can give you quite the same buzz as doing it yourself after all!
You can also see this post on the Horsemart website, complete with original photographs here.
On 29 July, I was witness to history being made. I was lucky enough to have tickets to see day 2 of the Eventing dressage phase at Greenwich Park, and the day delivered all the excitement and emotion that it promised.
The arena looked immaculate and impressive, with a London Cityscape backdrop that served as a reminder of the work and dedication that went into transforming Greenwich Park into the polished eventing venue that we saw before us.
There was a real buzz in the air, and the atmosphere was electric, almost tangible. When the action got under way, all the spectators did a great job of containing their applause and appreciation until the competitors gave their final salute, and promptly burst into rapturous applause and cheers for the performance they just witnessed. It gave me goosebumps every time!
The home crowd didn’t have to wait long for ‘one of their own’, as Zara Phillips and High Kingdom entered the arena as about the 3rd competitor. You could hear a pin drop as we watched on, and although there was a flying change that didn’t quite go to plan, they produced a solid test to earn a score of 46.1.
I was very much looking forward to seeing the mighty 19 year old Lenamore ridden by Caroline Powell, and he still looked every inch the eventer. The atmosphere may have got to him slightly as his test was not quite what we’ve come to expect from him, but the crowd was appreciative and Lenamore left with an abundance of energy as the applause fired him up.
The next Brit was Tina Cook and Miners Frolic, who had the unfortunate task of riding their test in the middle of a rather large storm! She was not deterred though, and produced a magnificent, polished test to earn them a richly deserved 42. Miners Frolic, or Henry as he is known, was an absolute saint to keep his concentration under such circumstances.
Michael Jung had performed a strong but not mistake free test, but such was the standard of the Ger
man team’s dressage that remarkably his 40.60 would be their discard score! Unsurprisingly, they are top dog in the team standings after the dressage.
The familiar Wiltshire based Aussie representative Lucinda Fredericks was a popular competitor, and her 40.00 did the Aussie medal chances no harm at all. Husband Clayton wasn’t far behind either, as he and Bendigo notched up a further 40.40 to pile the pressure on. The Aussies will go into the cross country phase handily placed in second.
William Fox-Pitt, incidentally the World Number 1, came much later in proceedings, with all hopes resting on him and the aptly named Lionheart to ensure we enter the next phase with half a chance. His tall, lithe figure was instantly recognisable as he entered the arena, and I held my breath as I watched on. It certainly looked a strong effort, and he was rewarded with a PB of 44.10 on a horse who is competing at his first championships. That will do nicely! He ensured that Team GB will enter the second phase in a respectable bronze medal position; although with 2 phases of the three to go we all know that’s liable to change!
The last rider of the day was the evergreen, once retired from international eventing Mark Todd. The Kiwi didn’t disappoint and nursed NZB Campino around in a near faultless test to finish on an impressive 39.10 -something the New Zealanders desperately needed after disappointing results for both Caroline Powell and Andrew Nicholson; the latter of which created a stir when ‘disgusted’ with organisers who held him back due to a sudden downpour and thunderstorm. Many of you will know that at this level, warm-ups are often honed down to the last second, and Nicholson claimed that the delay had caused his mount Nereo to go flat. He may have had a point, and Nereo’s canter work was disappointing, notably when it came to a flying change that could only score 4’s from the judges. As always though, the safety of horse and rider must come first.
A special mention must go to the surprise hero, Yoshiaki Oiwa who ended up topping the tables for Japan. His magnificent performance earned a 38.1 which could not be matched by the top event riders in the world. Yoshi is an experienced rider having competed at many top level competitions, but even he was shocked with just how well his mare Noonday De Conde went on the day, reporting that she always felt relaxed. He was understandably delighted with the result, and the crowd showed him the respect he deserved after such a fault free demonstration of horsemanship.
During the down time I was able to walk the much talked about cross country course, and if my instincts are right this will be far from a dressage competition! Once again the London cityscape was a breathtaking backdrop, and I was shocked at just how undulating the course is. I was out of breath walking it, and I don’t think the images can really prepare you for just how steep some parts are. One thing is for sure, they will need to be well studded up and in complete control if they are to ride the course without mishap. I think there will be lots of drama, and for all those there watching, you are in for a treat!
The whole day was really something to be proud of; even the frequent downpours couldn’t dampen the spirits! Good luck to all competitors today, and an extra special good luck to the Team GB horses and riders. To anyone who is lucky enough to spectate at the equestrian games, or even be a part of it, I hope you feel as privileged as I do to have been there to witness it.
If you're confused by the title of this article, it relates to a completely ignorant and inaccurate report from Bryony Gordon of the Telegraph; her report was very different to mine and you can see what she says here.
Lauren Shannon at Badminton 2011
Lauren Shannon at Badminton 2011
As a regular blogger for Horsemart, they were interested to hear my thoughts on the cancellation of Badminton, and the wider impact of that upon the industry. I did a bit of research and wrote the below.
The full article can be seen by visiting the Horsemart website, and by clicking the link below.: http://www.horsemart.co.uk/news/cancellation_of_badminton_horse_trials_2012_what_are_the_potential_impacts_/3163
Badminton Horse Trials – arguably the pinnacle of the British Eventing calendar, and one of only 6 CCI**** events in the world. For many spectators, it is the highlight of the equestrian year, and draws in crowds of around 200,000.
Preparation begins months and months ahead of time, course building, organising ticket sales, trade stands, publicity, entries etc, and this year no amount of preparation could cope with the wettest ‘drought’ known to man; prolonged torrential rain has led to waterlogging and flooding, and with yet more rain forecast, the organisers had no choice but to cancel the event.
So what does this mean in the wider context? Yesterday, all eyes were on William Fox-Pitt, after he and Parklane Hawk won at Kentucky, making him 2 out of 3 for the Rolex Grand Slam – a win at Badminton would have been game set and match, securing a cool £220k. So what happens now?
Not only that, but this year in particular BHT would have offered the perfect opportunity to help decide the final places for Olympic hopefuls, all keen to get a run at this level. Each rider will no doubt now be reviewing the situation, and looking for alternatives.
The horses and riders spend months preparing for the event, with carefully planned programmes to ensure peak fitness and readiness for the ultimate test that Badminton poses.
Wymeswold event rider Lauren Shannon is no exception. She says; “I am gutted that Badminton has been cancelled, my team, like everyone else's have been preparing for months for our trip there. This of course pales in comparison to the tireless work the organizing and ground teams have done. It is heartbreaking for everyone involved, and while us riders can re-route to other events, the teams at Badminton can only reflect on what could have been. I really feel for them right now.
“My horse will hopefully compete at Badminton next week, and his longer term goals will probably change now, but we will have a think for a day or two before planning too far ahead. Hopefully we wont get any more rain!”
It’s not only the riders affected though; traders come from far and wide to attend the spectacle, benefitting from a massive captive audience. Julia Andrews, spokesperson for Kate Negus Saddlery says; “It is a great shame for all involved. For me as a trader I would expect to take about 20% of my annual turnover in those 5 days. This money is hard to make up with online sales and other venues. The next biggest venue will probably be Burghley but I cannot get into that event. Unfortunately the lack of sales have the obvious knock on effect in the supply change as I will not be putting my usual big order in after Badminton.
“I really feel for all those people at Badminton who have worked so hard getting the event organised. A bit like running a marathon with the finish line in view and then be told that there was no race after all!!”
Likewise, Jo Self, General Manager for Feedmark is facing a similar situation, having been ordering in extra materials, packaging, signage etc to cope with the demand that Badminton throws up. She explains: “Obviously we are extremely disappointed about the cancellation of BHT, Feedmark have been trading at the event for longer than I can remember! However it is very important to remember that the horses welfare is paramount and the organisers have made the right decision in very difficult circumstances.
“To avoid any further disappointment to our customers we have decided to honour our show offer and we will discount supplement orders by 40% along with free UK delivery between Thursday 3rd – Monday 7th May. I feel for those smaller trade stands who have invested heavily and will not be able to recoup their costs. Of course it is also a blow for William Fox-Pitt our sponsored rider who had an amazing win at Kentucky yesterday with Parklane Hawk and was looking forward to the challenge of completing the Rolex Grand Slam this weekend.
“We have to put things in to perspective, people and horses have travelled from all over the world to this prestigious event, this will affect our sales but you have to be prepared for the Great British weather, let’s just hope things improve….. quickly!”
The overall feeling from those involved is one of disappointment, coupled with admiration and compassion for those who have worked so hard to achieve something which is no longer possible. It is with great sadness that Badminton Horse Trials falls foul of the weather, but the one thing beyond all control is mother nature. Nobody, surely, will berate the organisers for taking such a decision, knowing that it has been made with the welfare and safety of competitors at heart.