Following the lanes with its creamy Cotswold dry stone walls lined with lush spring greenery, always brings a smile to my face. As you make your way through the tiny village of Badminton during the first week of May, horse lorries suddenly appear all lined to attention. They are ready for the eventing excitement that lies ahead for the next five days. This week I will travel to Badminton for the fifteenth time with the event celebrating its 70th year.
The grounds of Badminton Estate have faired well over the winter, which is one less stress for the organisers. Thousands of cars will be parked enjoying the late spring weather with picnics and some bubbly from out of the boots of their cars. With an estimated crowd running in tens of thousands expected to arrive through the gates of Badminton on cross country day alone, there is no doubt this event is the gold crown in equestrian sport.
Badminton also showcases country life at its best even if equestrian blood doesn’t run through your veins. The vast shopping village attracts a huge collection of well known brands all celebrating country life from equestrian fashion to horse wear, rural lifestyle fashions, countryside interiors and home wear. There is never a day that I don’t leave Badminton without a shopping bag or three! Over fifteen visits, my wardrobe is packed with jumpers, jackets, and jodhpurs and in every room, there is a picture, ornament or mugs on my dresser which are all keepsakes from these fantastic shopping stalls.
With my love of horses and passion for equestrian sport, this is the reason I make this visit every year. I am always in awe of these brave and ambitious riders who pair with their stoic horses taking on one of the most exhilarating and toughest equestrian competitions. With the two days of dressage, even the most highly trained horses can protest in the corners of the arena making it a challenging test with the world watching. With its international audience, the big crowd pleaser is cross country day. I have walked the course for many years now and it never ceases to amaze me how these horses embrace these enormous and technical fences. The riders always show the highest professionalism to ensure that they make it round safely with the care of their horse foremost.
After the physical demands of the cross country, then the next day shows who has made it through to the showjumping with the trot up in front of Badminton House. The professional vet team watch with a close eye for any horse that may be showing strains from the day before. The welfare of the horse is always paramount. This can reduce the show jumping line up which always brings the exciting action to a close. With a knock of a pole or not making the time can put a rider down in the running, leaving the competition wide open. There is always the biggest cheer and the loudest claps from the audience when the winner of the Badminton Horse Trials is revealed. Their name is then placed in the eventing hall of fame, holding the biggest first rosette any horse rider can win!
With the modern age, Badminton can be viewed not only on television but through live streaming through its website. Social media is always up to speed with the latest results with Tweets, Facebook Lives or Instagram Stories, all showing this super event at its best. However, to take in the atmosphere and celebrate equestrian sport and life in the country, you must visit this fantastic event yourself. I guarantee you, the Badminton bug will then bite!
by Samantha Hobden
Please visit: https://www.badminton-horse.co.uk/
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