Beautiful Burghley

Last week I went up to Burghley Horse Trials.  I have only been once before but I absolutely loved it and I was so excited to go again.  It just has such a great atmosphere and of course the competition is exciting too.

We made sure to get there in time for the first trot-up on Wednesday and were back bright and early for the dressage next day.  We even had time to stop off at our favourite place for breakfast – the Country Living vintage tea room.  It was just a shame that they have had to stop using teapots as so many of them got stolen.

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The two days of dressage were excellent – it was great to see first timer Eliza Stoddart take the early lead, although all the changes on Friday afternoon made it very exciting.  I loved the cross country course which was a proper five star test and I had a great day walking round the course on Saturday.  We finished at the leaf pit and once the final few riders had been past us we listened with bated breath to the loudspeakers as they made their way round the rest of the course.

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Of course, the Sunday show jumping could not have been closer – at least for the final three riders.  I was actually trembling as I watched Oliver Townend, Piggy French and Pippa Funnell go round.  It did not help me at all that they each had a pole down!  I would have been happy if any of them had won but I was so, so pleased to see Pippa come out on top.  She has long been a hero of mine.

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I am also clearly a lucky charm for British riders.  When I went two years ago there was a British 1-2-3-4 and it was the same again this year.

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Naturally I did a little shopping while I was there too.  Burghley seems to be a place for me to buy slogans – last time I got my ‘Living the dream’ gilet.  This time, I found this excellent polo shirt on the BHS stand.

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I also treated myself to these riding tights.  I have never had any before but I have enjoyed wearing them this week.  Plus, my phone actually fits in the pocket properly!  I also loved looking at all of the horse feed stands.  When I was little I used to wish I had a pony and could get samples to take home for it.  Now I can and it felt so good.

Once again I had the best time at Burghley.  I will definitely be back in the future.

A Horseless Horsey Day

Today has been extremely busy for me.  I went to help my riding club team at the horse trials qualifier and it was a long but very fun day.

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I got to walk the cross country course with the team, then it was all hands on deck to tack up and get the first riders down to the dressage warm up.

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Once the first rider was finished with dressage I helped adjust their tack for jumping, then I became our team’s chief pole putter-upper in the warm up ring.  I spent several hours adjusting poles and getting rather sandy in the process.

I also got drenched – when I left the lorry it was blazing sunshine and I was worried about sunburn but before too long there was an almighty crack of tbunder and the heavens opened.  I was in the middle of the warm up at the time and had no chance to get my coat.

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By the time our last team member was finished show jumping most of the others had finished completely so once I’d helped her get ready for her cross country round it was time to start removing studs and getting the horses booted up and ready for the journey home.

I had a great day helping out and hopefully learned a lot too.  I managed not to fall asleep on the way home but I was definitely not the world’s greatest conversationalist!

Badminton From the Sofa

We used to go to Badminton every year but haven’t managed it for the past few.  However, Badminton weekend is still very special for us and we always make sure to watch as much of it as we can.

I so much appreciate the live stream on the Badminton website – I got to watch the first trot up after work on Wednesday and my breaks on Thursday and Friday were spent cooped up in the staff room with the dressage.  It never gets shown on television so it was wonderful to be able to watch it.  Oliver Townend’s record score made it extra exciting too!

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I rode both my own ponies on Saturday morning (listening to Radio Badminton as I did so!) before making my way inside to settle down for the cross country.  This is obviously the big draw of eventing and is always very exciting but this year I knew it would be even more so – the new dressage scoring meant that the scores were tight and time penalties were going to be very influential.

I thought Eric Winter’s cross country course was brilliant.  There were lots of difficult questions which caused problems for the riders without too many falls.  It was wonderful to watch and the riders seemed to like it as well – they were all commenting on how great the course was and that the going was perfect.  I was particularly taken with the Nyetimber Heights, Shogun Sports Hollow and Outlander PHEV Bank combinations which at first glance looked impossible but mostly rode very well.  It was a fantastic day of sport and I was glued to the television.

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This morning I was up bright and early to see to the ponies before the final trot up.  We always make ourselves the same picnic breakfast we would have had if we were actually at the event and it was a lovely, leisurely way to start our Sunday.  My sister came round to ride and, feeling inspired, we did some jumping of our own.  It wasn’t quite up to Badminton standard but we had fun!

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Today’s show jumping was nail biting, especially when we got to the final few riders.  I couldn’t decide who I wanted to win – I am a huge fan of both Piggy French and Oliver Townend.  I really wanted Piggy to win her first five star but for Oliver to claim the second leg of the Rolex Grand Slam would also be great.  Either way, I was thrilled with Piggy’s clear round – it meant we had a British winner.

Oliver Townend had one fence down but he could afford that as well as a couple of seconds over the time.  Even as he cleared the last fence we thought he had won – I think everyone did – but the clock ticked over just enough to drop him behind Piggy French.  I was so disappointed for him but absolutely delighted for Piggy.  She definitely deserved a win.

It has been a wonderful, if somewhat lazy, weekend.  It’s a shame it has to end!

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Wilton Horse Trials

I am just back from a great weekend at Wilton Horse Trials.

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Wilton ’18 was written incarrots and bananas!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Even the horses were hiding from the rain!

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.

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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.

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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.

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Despite the weather we had a great weekend and I’m already looking forward to the next event.

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Beautiful Bank Holiday

The weather this bank holiday weekend has been glorious.  Blue skies all day with just a bit of mist in the mornings.  We went out for a lovely ride early yesterday morning and then spent most of the rest of the day in front of the television.  It is Badminton weekend after all!

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I always try to keep this weekend free because even if I can’t actually get there I love to watch.  I even watch snatches of dressage in my breaks at work.  On Friday I had an almost perfectly timed break and managed to watch Jonty Evans’ test.

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I was one of the many people who chipped in to pay for a tail hair of Cooley Rorkes Drift last year so I was very pleased with that.

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Badminton.  So far I am a fan of the new scoring system without the dressage coefficient – recently eventing has felt a bit like a dressage competition!

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It has been a great weekend and we are now just out for what will hopefully be another lovely hack – an evening one this time.

Brilliant Burghley

I am just back from Burghley Horse Trials and I had such a wonderful time!  We didn’t book early enough to stay in Stamford itself but the railway makes it easy to get in every day.

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We arrived on Wednesday for the trot up and thanks to a miscommunication with our taxi driver we had all our luggage with us and were very nearly too late.

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I still enjoyed it though and it was good to get our bearings a little bit before the event proper started.  We  found a lovely little gate which saved us a lot of time!

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The two days of dressage were excellent.  I find it very encouraging to see that the professionals don’t always score eights and nines – there were even a few ones!  The leader board was changing right up until the end of Friday which always makes things more interesting!   I was surprised though at the number of people who thought it was okay to move about during the tests.  I have always been taught to stay still and be quiet until the test is over.

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There was also some great lunchtime entertainment.  On Thursday we got to watch a gundog display which taught me that my dog will get madder as she grows up.  Very encouraging.

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Friday had two masterclasses with Chris Bartle and Richard Waygood.  Ros Canter and Alex Postolowsky were the riders and I found it so interesting to watch.  Hopefully I learnt something too.

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Saturday had blazing sunshine all day long but since there were only sixty cross country starters we had to hurry a bit to make sure we got round the course.  It was so hot!  Several times I had to stop from a rest in the shade.

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It was a fantastic course and I had a brilliant day.  I’m sure we could get closer to the fences than at Badminton which was a great treat.

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The only downside was that we could only hear the loudspeakers when we were somewhere near the main arena so we didn’t really have much idea of what was going on.  I only knew something (I didn’t know what) had happened to Michael Jung when I heard that Izzy Taylor had gone into second behind Gemma Tattersall.  I never realised Andrew Nicholson had fallen until I got back to the hotel!

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It was a great day and apart from the jumping I was very pleased to find a vintage tea shop for breakfast!

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Sunday was another good day, with exciting moments right up until the end.  It was fantastic to have a British 1-2-3-4.

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Again,  the lunchtime entertainment was great.  I always enjoy watching the military band but the racehorse to riding horse class was really interesting and I loved all of the donkeys from the Donkey Breed Society.  They were so cute!

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Part of the fun of a big event like Burghley is just wandering around the grounds absorbing the atmosphere and looking at the tradestands.   I was very restrained when it came to shopping but I saw this gilet and given the tag line of this blog I just had to have it!

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I had a wonderful week and I will definitely be going to Burghley again.

Beautiful Badminton

I couldn’t get to Badminton this year but I still had a brilliant weekend. At first I thought there was going to be as little coverage as usual  – the BBC was only showing the cross country and a highlights show on Sunday which usually includes about five show jumping rounds.  It is especially annoying because if I didn’t live in the UK I could get a subscription to FEITV and watch the entire thing.

Right at the last minute though – Wednesday evening – I discovered that Badminton were live streaming everything not being shown on the BBC – amazing news!  I was working on Thursday and Friday but my breaks were basically spent in the staffroom watching the dressage.  I even managed to time one break perfectly to watch Emily King’s test – it was beautiful.

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Saturday afternoon was spent entirely on the sofa watching the cross country. It seemed to be a really good course and was certainly exciting to watch!

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This morning we actually got a livestream of the trot up which is something I love to watch.  We made ourselves the picnic we would usually take to watch it at Badminton and just ate it inside this time.

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I was very pleased to see all of the show jumping – the last five is just not enough.  It was nail biting right to the end.  Literally – I got very worked up!  I am always disappointed when a Brit doesn’t triumph but Michael Jung definitely deserved to win and Gemma Tatteersall had an amazing round to be best of the Brits.

A huge bonus – because I wasn’t expecting it (although I hoped for it) – was being able to watch the prize giving.  We even got to see the parade of hounds.  It has always seemed such a shame that the broadcast cuts off as soon as the jumping stops.  The livestream has been amazing all weekend and I am so glad it was there.