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You might know Gemma better as @gemeventing on Instagram, where she keeps us and all her followers updated on her and Con’s (her lovely event horse) adventures. Gem is a brand ambassador of ours and, long before this, was a serious Hiho fan. And she has a bit of a thing for purple too… need we say more? Here’s Gemma’s take on Badminton Horse Trials…
I would say my first ever Badminton experience was when I was six years old, I haven’t been every year since as it has had to be cancelled some years. But nonetheless it is fabulous for all ages who have a common love for horses. This year I am really excited to be camping for the six days arriving Tuesday and going home on Sunday. In that time I have a lot of things I want to watch that I might not have seen before, such as the show jumping.
As well as a lot of walking and watching, a lot of shopping will be packed into those five days for my horse and myself, however we both have a great excuse for a treat as both our birthdays are a couple days before Badminton kicks off.
Let’s talk about Badminton Horse Trials
Badminton is one of the biggest 5* events of the British Eventing calendar. Bringing equestrians from all over the world to Gloucestershire to watch the top-level riders from around the world compete to win the trophy, or maybe even clock up a win towards the Rolex Grand Slam Of Eventing. This is the first thought of people when it comes to Badminton Horse Trials, but actually there is a lot more going on than people think.
For those who don’t know much about Badminton, it is full of exciting things each day consisting of Tuesday and Wednesday being the Grassroots Championships for BE90cm and BE100cm. This gives the chance for the best riders in each region to compete for title of best in the country, and the prize of driving away a brand-new Mitsubishi Shogun for a year, not to mention prize money and trophies. In the last couple of years, I have attended this day to watch and support friends competing at this level.
The five star track is also inspected on the Wednesday ready for competitors to walk it ready for Saturday. Last year I won a course walk with Lucinda Green which was very interesting from a rider’s perspective, and I really learnt a lot about how different fences will be ridden and how she would tackle them herself. I remember her saying that riders will walk the course a handful of times before their rounds on Saturday. Another very important comment, similar to what I would do when walking a xc course, is that they work out their minute markers, making sure they know what jump they need to be at in order to be within the time allowed. This helps them to get close to or on the optimum time preventing any time penalties.
The Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse Class
The Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse Class also runs throughout the Wednesday, where promising up and coming four and five year old event horses compete to qualify for the Burghley Young Event Horse finals that take place at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. The horse and rider will have to deliver a good simple dressage test and show jumping round which is immediately after the dressage. They are then judged on conformation and quality. The top ten scoring horses in each section are then invited into the arena where they will be assessed on potential international quality by judges.
And then there’s the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials Trot Up or First Horse Inspection
After all that excitement, you have the famous Badminton trot up. This is where both horse and rider are judged, horses are judged to see if they are medically sound to compete, the rider on the other hand is judged by us all! It’s a great way to see all the big names with their horses looking dapper and beautiful. I am always interested in what everyone is wearing and if certain riders can outdo their outfits from previous years.
This best dressed at the first horse inspection is sponsored and judged by Hiho Silver. Each year, the best dressed male and female are presented with a prize of their gorgeous jewellery. Last year’s winners were picked by the lovely Alice Fox-Pitt, King of the Road (Andrew Ransford) and Lady Alice Manners. The two fabulously dressed winners were Giovanni Ugolotti and Louise Harwood.
With it being Hiho’s 25th year celebration, I can tell you now there will be some stunning pieces of new jewellery coming out, as well as their official Badminton range as they are the Official Jeweller of the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials. I would keep an eye out on their social media platforms to see if they will give us any hints or sneak peaks of the new jewellery.
Dressage days at Badminton Horse Trials
Thursday and Friday consist of the Dressage in the main arena but its not only the five star competitors you will see strut their stuff down the centre line. There are also dressage displays from the likes of the great Hutton family and Para-rider Suzanna Hext this year, which I am very excited to watch as my dressage is my weakest phase, so any tips and tricks I can pick up I will be very happy with.
Cross country day
Saturday is the most popular day for spectators watching the Cross Country. It is also the Shetland Grand National that is always fun to watch. This is in the morning in the main arena.
The course over the last couple years has been built by the famous course builder Eric Winter. The course is full of question asking fences and combinations to test both rider and horse. Last year the course consisted of 32 fences ranging from the famous lake combination to the L200 jump and the nail-biting KBIS Vicarage V which caused problems if not ridden correctly.
Another thing that Lucinda Green said (when we did the course walk) was that riders will walk two lines if there are alternative fences as problems can happen. The riders will have to think quickly depending on how their horses are running or if they may need change their approach to a certain jump or combination.
The course last year was built to 1.20m high, 1.45m for brush style fences, 2.00m wide at the top of the spread and 3.00m at the bottom and the maximum drop height was 2.00m. Now to me that seems huge, but for these riders and horses, they would have been training for years and months leading up to Badminton Horse Trials making sure that both rider and horse are fit enough to complete the whole course within the time and up to the job of jumping all the technical fences.
The final day – the showjumping, Final Horse Inspection and the prizes
Sunday is the last day, starting with the final inspection of horses to check that they are medically sound to compete the final stage of the event. The showjumping course is built to 1.25m (4’1”) which seems big, but is actually smaller than Hickstead and Olympic size courses.
The winner will win £100,000 in prize money along with the famous Badminton Mitsubishi Motors Trophy. Prizes don’t just go to the winner. The Butler Bowl is awarded to the best British rider, the groom of the winning horse will be presented with The Mark Holliday Memorial Trophy, and also there is a prize for the groom who puts the most effort towards the care of their horse over the week. Last year, this groom was presented with a prize from Treehouse Sporting Colours.
…and then there’s the famous Shopping Village
So all very exciting and full of action packed days! As I mentioned earlier, there is also the shopping village, where you will find all sorts of stands from fashion and clothing, obviously Hiho Silver, to saddlers, horse lorry companies, handmade crafts and equestrian college stands. The list goes on. For all the men attending or having to attend, shall I say there are some lovely food halls and lots of home brews of whatever wets your whistle.