I am just back from a great weekend at Wilton Horse Trials.
We had a small setback to start with as we were staying in Wilton very near to the main entrance to the house but hadn’t realised that the only way in to the horse trials was two miles away round the other side of the park. We knew that was the main gate but not that it was the only one. It was a shame but we’ll be better prepared another time.
I don’t get to go to many of the smaller events but I do love them – you can be so much closer to the action. I spent Saturday morning basically sat in the warm up area watching the dressage and showjumping. It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many horses.
Once the cross country started we obviously had to walk the course and apart from being a little wary of approaching horses (there are less string fences than at the bigger events so we had to be very aware of where the horses would go) it was fantastic exploring the course and being able to get a good look at the fences.
Saturday morning was novice cross country but I had a look at all the jumps we passed and I was particularly interested in a double on the BE100 course. I could see several different ways to approach it and I was curious to see how it rode.
Once the BE100 class started I went to have a look and the first two riders took one route but both had a run out at the second element. The third rider took a different route and made it look easy so I thought that settled the question.
It’s never as simple as that though – over the two days I saw all possible routes taken and all of them cleanly so my first look must have just been bad timing!
Saturday had been mostly sunny – although very windy – but rain was was forecast for Sunday. We knew that but the long dry spell has made us a bit complacent and although we had brought waterproof jackets we hadn’t really considered how cold we might get and we had actively decided not to take waterproof trousers. It rained all day so we learnt our lesson!
We arrived on Sunday to find that the majority of the trade stands had packed up which was a real shame. We hadn’t had time to look round them the day before and had planned to do so on Sunday morning. The few remaining food stands were doing a roaring trade though!
First up on Sunday were the intermediate classes and it was great to be able to get a good look at the riders warming up. I hope that I managed to learn something.
We didn’t walk the whole of the cross country course this time – partly because we now knew it pretty well and partly because it was pouring with rain and blowing pretty well too. I had dreadful trouble with my hat and ended up looking like Paddington.
The hat will never be the same again.
We picked out a few of our favourite jumps and went to watch those. The furthest field from the main showground had a fantastic group of trees where we could sit in comfort and watch six fences (eight or nine jumping efforts depending on the class).
I really think we had the best seats on the course, although a coffee van would have been nice! We were also sat right by the double I had been interested in the day before so I not only got a good view of it being jumped, I also got to watch many different people walking it and it was fascinating to see all the different approaches.
Despite the weather we had a great weekend and I’m already looking forward to the next event.