Defender Blair Castle International Horse Trials 

Thursday 22nd - Sunday 25th August 2024

Blair has plenty more to offer besides the world-class human and equine athletes of the three-day event however. The Huge Shopping Village features more than 200 exhibitors and including a tempting Food Hall and of course a wonderful jewellery store!! For more information or to buy tickets visit:


Blair Castle Horse Trials is a 3-day event, but in traditional English style, is confusingly held over 4 days, not 3. Thursday and Friday are both Dressage days, Saturday is the Cross Country Phase and Sunday finishes with the Show Jumping phase. The scores from each phase are then combined together to give the overall score for the event.

Three-day eventing provides a comprehensive test of all round ability for horse and rider, and tests the partnership between the two. The sport was originally developed as a military event, drawing on the requirements for an Officer’s charger – steadiness on parade, the ability to cross the country at speed in battle and the fitness needed to carry on with duties the following day. Known as Concours Complet International, or CCI, the modern international three-day event is overseen by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

The sport has evolved from the original military requirements to the three modern-day disciplines that we see today –dressage, cross country and show jumping. In order to succeed, riders and their horses must be highly skilled in all three disciplines.Internationally there are four levels of competition, rated by ‘stars’. The first three-day event at Blair was held in 1989, as a national two-star competition, they now also hold a 3 star competition. Dressage, the first phase, is designed to show off the horse’s suppleness, rhythm and, most importantly, obedience and harmony with the rider. It is used to show that a horse that can later go on to complete a long, challenging cross country course, also has the training to be graceful and precise. It is amazing to watch such large animals floating along seemingly with no directions from their rider.

Cross Country, the most popular phase, requires extreme fitness and trust from both rider and horse. The course is built of 40 incredibly solid, natural fences, over around a 6 kilometer course. Fences include ditches, coffins, point fences and of course water complexes.

The Show Jumping Phase is used to test the horse’s fitness and agility. The course is made of around 12 knock down, coloured fences at about 1m25 in height. Riders must jump every fence clear, within the time limit. The course is small compared to most show jumping competitions, but remember, each horse has had to take it’s rider around a 4 mile course the previous day, so to do any of the jumps is an achievement in itself. Competitors jump in reverse order, leading to a tense atmosphere as the leading riders enter the ring to jump. 


Blair Castle is in Scotland so prepare for all eventualities! Lightweight clothes are a must though, whatever the weather. In heat waves, it will stop you from overheating, and if it decides to pour with rain, they can dry easily. There is nothing worse than having to walk a cross country course wearing wet jeans.

Wellies and a coat are also a good idea to have in the back of your car so that if it does decide to pour with rain, you can quickly change; even once it has stopped raining, the grass will be soaked and you may end up with the two-tone trouser effect.  Chuck a sunhat and suncream in the back of the car as well, so if the sun does appear, you can be prepared for it, and avoid looking like a tomato.

Footwear wise, stilettos are really not recommended. Even in incredibly dry weather, your heels will end up disappearing into the ground. Flat, comfortable shoes that are easy to walk in are a good idea for when it is dry. Blisters are your worst enemy, and they tend to prey on anyone who thinks they can “get away with it”.

And last but not least, jewellery. I mean, it is held at a Castle and it wouldn't be the same without some stunning Sterling Silver Jewellery to match your outfit, whatever the weather. We'd recommend our fabulous Equestrian Collection. Dress to suit the surroundings, without worrying about your jewellery tarnishing. So how about putting on your snaffle necklace and earrings, and rocking the Trials in style. If you don't have one, fear not, just pop by our Equestrian Collection and treat yourself.


Other than clothes, in the back of your car, you might want to also have a waterproof backed picnic blanket or even a couple of lightweight canvas chairs if you don’t feel like walking too far, although of course just far enough to come and visit us! Both of these will stop you from needing to sit on the wet grass when your legs give out.

Don’t forget to drink plenty of liquids. It is a long day, and whether it is cold or hot, you will need to stay hydrated to avoid the paramedics having extra work. Unfortunately, alcohol doesn’t count…

Sunday is the best day for shopping. Stall holders don’t really want to take all their stuff back, so you can grab some great bargains.

If you are coming on Saturday, arrive in plenty of time as there can be very long queues, or even better, stay in nearby Hotels or B&Bs on Friday night, avoiding the incredibly early morning.


Blair Castle Horse Trials is held in the centre of Scotland. It is very clearly signposted from the main A9 road. If you wish to use your SatNav, the postcode is PH18 5TH.