The annual Festival of British Eventing falls the weekend after my birthday in August and as a tradition we’ll have a Mummy-daughter day out. We always have a brilliant time and this year was no exception!
This year, I was lucky to win tickets to attend all three days through Minerva Publications. Unfortunately I was working on Friday, but jumped at the chance to go on both Saturday and Sunday.
It’s classed as a One Day Event – meaning that each horse and rider combination must complete the 3 phases of the event in one day (Dressage, Show Jumping & Cross Country) although, due to the number of competitors at Gatcombe, some competitors will do their dressage one day and the Show Jumping & Cross Country the next.
This years show jumping course was designed by Diane Boddy (former director at The British Show Jumping Association) and the cross country course by Captain Mark Phillips (former Olympic gold-winning horseman and four time champion at the Badminton Horse Trials).
Simon Barnes, chief sportswriter for The Times, describes the event as “a competitive examination of the relationship between horse and rider: of the development of trust and understanding. Trust must be established very deep, so that it can be called on in times of crisis: and a sporting event is designed with most particular care to be a series of crises.
Eventing. It is the finest sport ever devised: the most perfect, the most thrilling, the most noble. I know: I have endeavoured to be perfect, thrilling and noble myself as an eventer: and one out of three isn’t bad.
More than any other sport, [it] breaks down the barrier between one species and another. It measures the co-operation between a human and an alien: two deeply dissimilar bodies and hearts and minds that, for some extraordinary, profound and magnificent reason, are prepared to work together in pursuit of the wild untrammelled joys of victory.” (2004)
It’s not all serious horse-business, other entertainment included: Stars of ‘Game of Thrones’, The Devil’s Horsemen, Shetland Pony grand national, falconry display, scurry driving, dressage to music by Desi Dillingham MBE, The Royal Agricultural College Beagles, The Duke of Beaufort’s hounds, pony club showjumping and a fun dog show.
For full list of results from the weekend, see here.