Following the lanes with its creamy Cotswold dry stone walls lined with lush new spring greenery always brings a smile to my face. As I travel towards Badminton on my fourteenth return, you can see horse lorries lined to attention in the distance all ready for the eventing excitement that lies ahead for the next five days.
Thankfully despite the soggy winter, the Badminton Estate has held up to the rain this year as you drive in on the soft ground. Thousands of cars are parked with many 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 come 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 handful of shopping bags. Over fourteen 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 all are keepsakes from these fantastic shopping stalls.
For my love of horses and passion for equestrian sport, then this is the real reason I make this visit every year. I am always in awe of these brave and ambitious riders who pair with their stoic horses which take 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 with the riders showing the highest professionalism making it safely but within time around this famous course.
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, with the welfare of the horse being at the forefront. 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 on 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 and whose name goes in the eventing hall of fame -holding the biggest first rosette any horse rider can win!
With 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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