Showjumper Yazmin Pinchen fits in some sightseeing in between showjumping classes in Vienna, and questions whether horses would jump if they didn't love it...
I'm writing this blog on a plane, on the way home from the most incredible week spent in Vienna at the Longines Global Champions Tour. As usual, it was a lovely show, great atmosphere and I learnt a lot. It is always an incredible experience getting to ride at shows like these.
The first day I came fifth in the 1.45m class with Ashkari, then Van de Vivaldi jumped the big class that evening. We tried him in a new bit, which he had been going well in at home, but I guess the atmosphere, the floodlights and all the excitement got too much for him and he took off. It was a bit of a battle all the way round and it did not go to plan at all!
The next day was the Grand Prix, the big 1.60m class that everyone wants to win. My mare Ashkari - known at home as India - warmed up extremely well and I had a good feeling with her. But I rode into the arena feeling so nervous, and proceeded to do the most crazy, stupid thing ever. I took way too many pulls down a line to a wall, and unsurprisingly India came to an abrupt halt four strides away from the fence. I don’t blame her! I had to turn a circle and come back round, I was determined to now jump clear and prove that we were capable and that was just a stupid mistake. And that we did, she jumped amazingly. Never touched a fence, of course I was gutted, but mistakes happen and I will definitely not do that again in a hurry!
On the final day I jumped India in the Vienna Masters which was 1.55m - 1.60m. As she only jumped one round the day before, I felt she could easily jump another class. She jumped her heart out and produced a clear round, so we went into an extremely tough jump-off with all the top riders. I knew I wouldn’t be as quick as them so I made a plan to have a clear and keep it tight. Of course, adrenalin took over and something came over me and we started going faster… It was all too much to and I got way too close to the third fence, an oxer. Bless India, she jumped it, however we didn't clear it. It was totally my fault but we finished nicely, ending in 11th place overall.
In my spare time myself, my family and boyfriend went into the town of Vienna to explore. We even took a horse and carriage ride to see all the sights. We were recommended to go the Spanish Riding School so we ventured there and it was a beautiful building, ancient but elegant. I would love stables like that!
Watching the horses did get me thinking though. It takes years of training to get horses to perform as they do, and this applies to any equestrian sport. Sometimes I get the odd bit of feedback from people who think showjumping is cruel. But I know that horses enjoy jumping, at whatever level, or they would not do it. My horses have their ears pricked forward when they're jumping, and I'd never overjump them, or press them to do something they are not enjoying, because you can tell how a horse is feeling, and sense if they're nervous or tired. I know my horses love jumping, and that is why we get the results we get.
In other exciting news, my new website launched this week. I have a new logo, a new layout and a newsletter that everyone can sign up to. Please have a look and sign up to the newsletter to keep up to date with all my results, travels and news.
I am off to Arena UK tomorrow with six horses, I can't wait to get back to an English show and see old friends - and I'm excited to hear that the Grand Prix will be shown live on Horse & Country! I am aiming to try to qualify for the Horse of the Year Show on a wildcard, so I can jump the international classes at HOYS with Ashkari and Van de Vivaldi. Fingers crossed!
Alice has some fantastic results at the LeMieux National Dressage Championships...
"Our final prep run before the Nationals was the last ever Advanced Medium Freestyle to Music Final at Wellington. We weren't competing until 8.30 pm so it was late and dark, which can unsettle a nervous horse, but fortunately Socs was amazing. He scored over 76% to take the title, and since it was the last time it was going to be run, we get to keep the enormous trophy. It has some amazing names from the world of dressage, going back 30 years.
We headed to the Nationals feeling pretty confident. Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) was the first to compete. She was quite hot and excited to be out at a party, but thankfully my trainer Erik was there to help me warm up so we managed a reasonably calm test in the Prix St Georges. There were a couple of little mistakes but we still scored 68.9% to finish just out of the placings, but I was thrilled as it was a very strong class.
The following day was the Intermediate I. Bracks felt more settled in the warm-up but was still quite hot in the arena so we had a few annoying mistakes, which meant we missed out on qualifying for the Freestyle. I think she is bored of Small Tour now and wants to move up to Grand Prix! I had some lovely comments from other riders after I had played with the piaffe and passage when I rode her, so I'm very excited about next year with her.
Saturday morning brought a very early start as Socs was first to go in the Medium at 8am. He was a bit nervous so had some uncharacteristic errors, but still managed to finish fifth with nearly 70%. It was then time for the big one, Del's (Headmore Delegate) Grand Prix. Charlotte Dujardin was on hand to help me warm up which was amazing and Del was fab! He gave me an amazing ride and produced the best Grand Prix test he had ever done to score 68.34% and finish fifth, which was incredible. We got loads of lovely comments from people who had seen the test as well which is always lovely, including a few people saying I should have been placed higher!
We had a lovely meal that evening with Socs' and Wilbur's (Headmore Wrubinstar) owners as well as friends of ours who had come up for the weekend to support, although I was exhausted by about 9pm due to the early start, but it was good food and a good night.
The final day started off with Socs' Advanced Medium. This was a really strong class and he gave me absolutely everything, even with all of the applause that was going on around him, to finish an amazing fourth, beating some successful horses. He has come so far in such a short space of time, and all the hard work we have put in to help him with his fear of clapping has paid off, hopefully he will keep growing in confidence and climbing up the placings at Championships.
We finished with Del's Grand Prix Freestyle. I was thrilled to be competing in it, since only the top 10 from the Grand Prix qualify. We hadn't practiced either as we were concentrating so hard on the Grand Prix! He felt amazing in the warm up but got very lit up when the music started, so most of my trot work was completed in canter!
Overall it was a very good week and end to the season. Roll on next year's Championships!"
Our blogger Sarina has had a fun season, mixed with some frustrations
Our blogger Sarina Stokes won H&C's competition to write a guest blog for a year. Read her latest update to find out why she went swimming during a cross-country session, and why she keeps having mental blanks in the showjumping...
"Following my Badminton error, when I took the wrong showjumping course, I have been determined to ride as well as I can and not let my mare down. So we have been doing lots of training, with the aim of doing a BE100 Plus.
To get started with this new training drive, we went to Boomerang Farm cross-country schooling. It was a stunning day and we started off well, with Cheeky practically pulling me over the logs into the water. I was feeling confident, and that is where I should have taken a moment to stop and think. Jonathan (my boyfriend) suggested I jump over the scariest fence - a white log with a plastic loop over the top with rattling sticks attached to it. I pointed out that it was a little too much at that stage of the training session and I was fairly sure it was not a good idea. However, after a brilliant leap into the water, I decided to give the scary rattling jump a try.
Just at the moment we approached, the wind caught the plastic sticks and the jump made quite a weird sound, not unlike a rattlesnake - at least according to Cheeky. She spun once, and I thought, okay, I can save this. Then she spun again, and I realised, no, I can't.
All last season I was wondering if my air jacket worked properly, as I had dismounted a few times without unattaching the cord and it hadn't inflated. Well, in the water at Boomerang, it went off with a pop. One very soggy Sarina and a slightly surprised Cheeky as she watched mummy fly off with a bang and make a scary splashing sound in the water.
A few lessons to learn there. Lesson one, always show your horse a jump first if you think it might cause problems. Lesson two, take a change in clothing or you might have a very soggy journey home. Lesson three, don't let your boyfriend put your muddy air jacket in the washing machine!
So for our first competition after Badminton I chose Farley Hall, since its fairly local. I'd been looking at the fences online and was hoping to avoid a certain picture frame fence that I'd spotted. Sure enough, when I walked the course, there was the picture frame - but as it was the last jump on the course and the rest of fences looked fairly large, I decided the likelihood of getting that far was slim anyway!
I am in awe as always of the way horses sometime surprise us and relish a challenge as much as we do. Cheeky flew round the cross-country, picture frame and all, and with a decent dressage score as usual we got close to the top 10, so I was very pleased.
But with Farley Hall and then Berkshire College behind us (where we scored a 23 dressage), there was still no top 10 rosette. I just need to sort my showjumping, as I seem to have a total blank when I go in the ring. I could be in a meditative trance every time, as when I come out of the ring I can only recall small glimpses of the previous three minutes!
Also, I am not sure if horses and humans contract each others colds, but whenever I have a cold, I'm sure Cheeky becomes off colour too. The point I'm trying to make is that sometimes it's best not to compete at all if you feel unwell. At Carlton, all the wheels fell off our wagon (so to speak). Walking off the cross-country course is neber a great feeling, but it's better to pull up than have a serious fall. The end of the season is now approaching, and I would dearly like to utter the words double clear!"
International event rider Sharon Hunt tells us about the horse she believes will take her back to the top…
"The last six weeks have just been the best. We have had incredible weather, with well-timed thunderstorms or showers to help soften the ground. We have travelled hunreds of miles, from Scotland to Sussex, and we have just come back from a brilliant week jumping in Milllstreet, Ireland.
All the horses are going superbly - they just get better and better. There is no doubt in my mind that my new yard and amazing facilities are responsible for this. They are happier as they have a much more varied routine, gallop work, field schooling and jumping, and also they live out - so they are far more relaxed. I too have a different mindset, as there isn't any monotony having so many different places to ride. I am also able to train others more as I have so much more available time, since we are not off to the gallops every five minutes.
The Hickstead Derby meeting was great fun as always, my horses always jump well there and after a week long intensive jumping session, I really improved. I am lucky enough to have help from Loughnatousa Stud owner Tim Beecher now, his help (and horsepower) has been invaluable to me and everything is going from strength to strength.
I qualified with Superman (Loughnatousa Fabio) for the main ring for the Foxhunter. Just to jump in it is great experience for him, he went very well all week. Harriet was the shining star - she won the 1.15m Derby, out of 120 entries. It was pouring with rain and you did need an event horse really, she is proving to be very competitive at both disciplines. Several very classy wins in Millstreet has left me scratching my head as to which is her best route for the future.
Superman is the horse of the summer for me though, he has been incredible. We started with some good Intermediate runs, then a very successful Hickstead, then we went to Barbury for the CIC2*. He was lacking mileage for this event, as it's a fairly strong two-star, but he went superbly, except for me relaxing at the end resulting in an annoying run-out at a corner. I needed to sharpen up!
We then went up to Burgham CIC2*, an event I thoroughly recommend. It was a great location, albeit a long way up north. They really made the best of it and the cross-country course was testing enough and educational. Superman scored a 40 in the dressage to lead it, then double clear with a few time faults, aware of my needing a good clear for our qualification, we finished eighth, so job done really.
We then went to Gatcombe for the Novice Championships. We had the worst of the weather for his dressage test, which was disappointing as I felt he performed a near perfect test. One judge had us 26 marks below the other, a massive discrepancy which really affected the mark, and he scored a 29, which was very disappointing. However he jumped a beautiful double clear and finished third. He was so impressive in the warm-up for the show jumping that several people simply stopped what they were doing and watched. This horse is one for the future and will bring me back to the big time. I have no doubts about that whatsoever. He is pure pleasure to ride and own, and I do know and appreciate how lucky I am."
Alice has had a mixed month of weather and results, but it culminates in a fantastic result in the Young Horse Finals...
"We've had a fairly manic few weeks recently as we are definitely starting to near the business end of the season. It began with Socs' (Tantoni Sir Soccrates) in the Regionals at Sparsholt in the immense heatwave that was our summer. In the medium on the first day he was quite nervous but still managed a mistake free test to score 73% to win, even though I hadn't been able to ride on full power. The following day for the Advanced Medium he was much more settled and was simply incredible, scoring nearly 75% to win again and complete his qualification for the Nationals at both levels.
We also went to Addington for the Regionals with Wilbur (Headmore Wrubinstar) and Tank (Headmore Wimoweh), where the weather couldn't have been more different with hailstones and gale force wind. Thankfully the storm had passed through by the time I had to ride so I stayed dry. Wilbur was first to go and I was thrilled with his way of going and rideability in the test. There were just a few green mistakes but I thought the test deserved about 69%. Two judges awarded that but unfortunately the other judge only awarded him 63%, but that's dressage! I was also pleased with Tank, although there were also a few green mistakes, but he still finished eighth in a strong class with 68%. It's a shame that I'm not allowed to ride below Medium level because Tank and Wilbur would have been better doing Elementary this season, but hopefully that rule will be changed soon.
Sandwiched in the middle of the Regionals we also had Hickstead CDI. Both Del (Headmore Delegate) and Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) sailed through the trot-up. Bracks competed in the Prix St Georges first, where she was in a bit of a weird mood. She felt like she was bored of the test and wanted to step up to big tour so it wasn't our best but we still got through to the Inter I freestyle. She was awesome in the Freestyle and we both really enjoyed it.
I also had Tank at Hickstead in the Young Horse finals. In the National class, we had to do our test while there were prizegivings going on in the other arena, but Tank was amazing and really trusted me even though he was a bit unsure. We were rewarded with the highest mark of the show, 86.2%, to win the final, which was awesome. We also contested the international final the following day and I was pleased with him as the test was very difficult, but he was tired from the effort he had put in the previous day. He still finished fourth, so overall it was a very good week's work.
Del has also been awarded a wildcard for the Nationals at Grand Prix, so he will be joining Socs and Bracks at Stoneleigh – so look out for us there.
Finally, I would like to mention what a fab result for the British team at the World Equestrian Games, and particularly my friend Charlotte Dujardin who has now won everything there is to win in the sport of dressage! I've told her now she just has to teach me how to do it!"
H&C's web editor Victoria is in Normandy for the World Equestrian Games - read her blog from a soggy Caen...
"A few days before I left for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, I went back to Scotland - my homeland - for a few days. It rained. It often does in Scotland, so I wasn't surprised. It wouldn't be summer in Scotland without a steady downpour - it would alarm the locals.
And I had two weeks in Normandy, France to look forward to, when I could bask in glorious sunshine. I came home from Scotland, unpacked my coats and warm winter layers, and repacked for France. Into my suitcase went my sundress and my sunglasses, while I deliberated between factor 8 and factor 15.
Well, that was a mistake.
It rained heavily all day yesterday. While the H&C TV team got to grips with complex accreditation systems and multiple venues that stretch the length and breadth of Caen, it poured incessantly. Bewildered tourists pulled on plastic ponchos and umbrellas popped up all around the stands, while I thanked my lucky stars I don't have to be on camera as my hair quickly started to resemble that infamous non-swimming rodent.
Even my minibreak in Scotland was starting to look like a week in a tropical paradise compared to this.
As the Grand Prix competition got underway, it got steadily wetter. The arena started to glisten like a lake and I wondered which would be the first horse to start doing front crawl down the centre line. It's rare that you can judge the tempo, impulsion and rhythm of an extended canter purely by listening to the splashing noises made by the horses' feet.
The forecast for this week remained as gloomy and doom-laden as your average tabloid newspaper, and I cursed my stupidity in bringing a sundress when what I actually needed was a full-length waterproof coat topped with a sou'wester, and enough warm layers to restock your average tack shop.
So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I opened my curtains this morning to see - shock horror - a beautiful blue sky and sunshine. Off we set towards the Stadium D'Ornano, umbrella-free and full of spring.
It rained again about two hours later.
In a way, it felt kind of apt - after our brief golden run of being the leading dressage nation, Germany have raised their A game. Even without star horse Totilas, they have produced an extraordinary lead here at WEG, with three riders in the top four so far. No one else has come close. They are ridiculously good.
In just under an hour from now, our shining ray of hope Charlotte Dujardin will ride into the arena on Valegro. They've consistently beaten all these horses and riders over and over again, so hopefully they'll produce the goods again this afternoon and score more than 82% to take the lead and boost British chances of winning a team medal too.
But a surprise result in Aachen, when Valegro scored 76.9% to finish sixth, reminded us that horses - a bit like the weather - don't always do what you expect them to. Hey, sometimes you get boiling hot days in Scotland too.
And Aachen was then, this is now. The sun is back out, and our hopes are high. Charlotte and Valegro, you can do this. We have every belief.
Alice has had mixed marks at the Festival of Dressage which leaves here wondering -is there room to debate dressage judging more...
"So I have had an exciting few weeks that started off as we headed to Hartpury for their Festival of Dressage, which incorporates the young dressage horse championships as well as the Hartpury CDI, as Bracks (Headmore Boadicia) was competing in her first International.
After we had settled the horses into their stables we got Bracks ready for her trot up, which she sailed through, before I got a chance to ride her in the competition arena. She was very keen and quite excited to be at a party, but at least she was enjoying herself.
At the draw in the evening I was early on, which is standard for me, so we had a reasonably early start. Bracks felt a bit tense and had a couple of small mistakes but overall I was pleased with how it went. Unfortunatly we had some massive discrepancies in the marks, one judge awarded us 69% for sixth, while another gave us 61% which had us in last place! This meant that we finished somewhere around the middle and once again reignited the debate about dressage judging, however as yet no answers have been found.
In the afternoon I rode the young horses Tank (Headmore Wimoweh) and Billy (Tantoni Sibellius) before having a lesson on Del (Headmore Delegate) with Charlotte. We had decided we would be better not to compete him at Hartpury to give us a bit more time to consolidate everything after our dodgy ride at Hickstead! We were treated to a lovely meal in the evening by Tank's owner, Joanne Graham, who had made the trip down from Northumberland to watch him.
Saturday held a very early start as Billy had been drawn early in the four-year-old championship. He was a star, finishing sixth despite his early draw. Tank was quite nervous in his test as it was held in the Hartpury indoor arena so unfortunately didn't show himself off to his best so finished just outside the placings. We hadn't finished yet however as Bracks still had her Inter I to do in the afternoon. She felt more settled than in the PSG, just had an unfortunate mistake in the first set of changes which worried her for a couple of movements, but overall I thought the test was better than the PSG. Once again we had some bizarre judging as the judge that had really liked her on the first day marked her lower, but the judge that had her last gave her a better mark in the Inter I, that's why we love dressage! We did make it into the freestyle however, so I was pleased we would get to do that.
Sunday held another fairly busy day which threatened to be rather stressful as I was drawn first in the music (standard) as it clashed with Billy's time, but thankfully the other competitors were very understanding so we could move my time. So we finished off the week with Bracks in the Inter I freestyle. She was fab, we just had a mistake in the three's, but they are on a circle so it's quite difficult. We finished ninth which was her first international rosette, so a good end to the week!
I then had a change the day after we got home as my sister, some of her vet friends and myself went to Thorpe Park for the day. We had a wonderful time and went on all of the big rides as well as the old favourites. There were some funny comments from Kate's friend Alicia at times as she had never been to a theme park before, but I think she enjoyed herself! It was also a nice break after our busy time at Hartpury."
Hickstead Director Daisy Bunn is left in awe of the first lady winner of the Longines King George V Gold Cup at Hickstead...
"What an end to a fabulous show. I’m sure I always say that, but today you couldn’t have scripted it better. A big jump-off with the best in the world, and the last in the ring winning it. As the power woman I am (or at least pretend to be), I was delighted to have our first lady winner in the history of the class. We opened the Queen’s and King’s Cup, ladies’ and gents’ classes for more than 100 years, to both sexes about five years ago. The fact that our sport is one of very few in the world where men and women compete on an even playing field is one of the best things about it and something that should be shouted from the rooftops. Although we've seen several male winners of the Queen’s Cup (including two Queen Breens, as of yesterday), history was made today by our King's Cup lady winner - bravo Beezie, arise King Madden!
We've had another glorious day here weather-wise and I now have some humble-pie emails to write, having chastised both Simon Brooks-Ward and Nina Barbour for stealing all the good weather at their Windsor and Bolesworth shows. With the torrential flooding and Armaggedon-style hail storms we enjoyed on Monday morning, I can’t quite believe our luck.
Hickstead favourite Martin Clunes was back with us in his role as President of the British Horse Society and he’s decided his new raison d’etre is to get Clydesdales on the showing schedule for next year. He would certainly be showing his pair, he said, particularly as they're fresh from triumph at his village show – with first and second places no less. Once he'd been plied with Pimm's, he did admit that there may have been only two in it, but we agreed that that was semantics. He was also most cheered to hear that I have finally seen Doc Martin (terrible, I know, but I’m not a huge TV watcher).
Despite Trevor's win in yesterday’s Templant Events Queen’ Elizabeth II Cup, we didn’t even make it out to celebrate last night – we've become so middle aged! During a quiet supper at home (a rarity during the shows, but this year we have baby Wolfe to keep quiet for), I felt very spoilt sitting and soaking up some of the best views on the breeding side of the sport, something I am particularly interested in. The Brothers Breen, Marcus (Ehning), Stevie (Macken), Chloe and I chewed the cud and it was fascinating to hear their takes on their respective breeding programmes and the business in general. We discussed cloning at length and all the boys said it didn’t sit well with them for a host of reasons - despite being fiercely competitive world-beaters, they're just like the rest of us at the end of the day and simply love their horses. It will be interesting to have the same conversation with them in 10 years’ time and see if their opinions have changed.
Marcus and Shane eventually excused themselves to bed (they had a big day ahead, finishing third and fifth in the King’s respectively) and Stevie and I said we’d take Trev to the pub to celebrate. However, we knew how disgustingly busy it would be and that we’d just end up hiding in the garden, with Trev pointing out that our garden is considerably nicer than theirs. As soon as we’d made the decision not to go out, we got stuck in at home and ended up going to bed way later than had we gone out... When. Will. We. Learn?
On that note, I must sign off for now - thank you all for reading over the season. It's been a wonderful year and thanks must go to our invaluable team of staff, officials and volunteers, the riders, owners, grooms and, of course, the great British public, without whom none of this would be possible. So thank you, toodle-loo and adieu… until next time!"
Hickstead Director Daisy Bunn gets into the spirit of ladies' day at the Longines Royal International Horse Show...
"Today was Ladies’ Day at Hickstead, one of my favourite days of the year. Forget about the horses, we had some very fine fillies here of an entirely different type. Thank you ladies for trussing up in your wonderful finery and hitting the showground in style. Walking through the main ring with the finalists in (quite wobbly high heeled) step behind me, I felt like I was leading a flock of exotic (rather loud) birds of paradise. There were sequins and feathers and sparkles galore, and they did us proud.
I joined celebrity judge Charlie Dimmock - of gardening and braless fame - and Pat Pearce, the founder of Hickstead Ladies’ Day Official Charity 2014, Dreamflight, for the judging and it really was a tough job. I’m beginning to understand how those poor judges feel tomorrow during the Supreme Ridden Championships. Dreamflight is a wonderful charity that organises holidays of a lifetime for children with serious illness and disabilities, so please do have a look at the amazing work they do.
I am rewarding myself with a large glass of wine (and maybe also a tiny weenie bit of chocolate) because I have actually walked about 86 miles today, in massive heels. When awarding the prizes to my scurry friends today more than one of them remarked that I should be the one getting a rosette for Multi Tasking Skill - walking in my heels on grass while pinning not one but two rosettes on each pair, and furiously wrestling with my completely out of control skirt that was insistent it was going to create its very own Marilyn moment. One learns that one simply does not have enough hands to pin rosettes on, hold trophies, shake hands with winners, and hold down their skirt! Something had to give and yes, as you can see, Hickstead photographer Julian Portch was on hand to capture every embarrassing moment on his camera!
Ladies decorated and scurry pairs congratulated, I retreated for a wonderful afternoon on the balcony watching the Templant Events Queen Elizabeth II Cup, followed by the British Speed Classic. Regular readers amongst you will know that I’m rather fond of a home win, so we were of course ecstatic when the now world famous Trevor Breen and Addy, the One Eyed Wonder Horse won the former (this year’s Equestrian.com Derby winners of course). Guest Alastair Stewart, ITV stalwart, kept us all entertained, with much chuckling (my favourite way to spend an afternoon), and we couldn’t have been more delighted when William Whitaker clinched the British Speed Classic. George Whitaker (Will’s younger brother) is currently training Alastair’s son, budding jumping talent Oscar – keeping it in the family!
Our BBQ last night was a fabulous affair – as of course it would be if you had half of the world's top showjumping elite chillin’ in your back garden. Tonight’s excuse for signing off in a rush is in fact due to the weariness I feel after actually rather a late night... Another massive thank you as always to our team who really do somehow always seem to rise above and beyond the call of duty – with special mention going to Simon who I found buried under a pile of soap suds in our kitchen when we had an emergency cutlery shortage. Sponsorship Manager Simon's motto is, if you’ve got a problem, solve it! A few Pimms down, I immediately insisted I’d help, and after a slightly false start of insisting I could carry 11 plates and nearly emptying them all over the German national team, we’d a very impressive washing up line in place with several Hickstead directors, even more Whitakers, Marcus Ehning, and a bevy of international showjumpers. Love it. Until tomorrow…. X
Ps – I am also signing off so I can rush home with the enormous bag of clothes I have from Lou and Joanne Whitaker’s clothing store We Love Pixie – perk of being best mates with the owners is that they’ve let me take them to try on at home before buying! Like free shopping (we know where you live, they said…)"
Hickstead Director Daisy Bunn is blogging from behind the scenes at the Longines Royal International Horse Show... In a cupboard!
"I can hardly believe it’s Friday night already – we spend a whole year desperately excited for the show to come, and then when it does it always seems to zoom by. Another fabulous day here, and despite forecasts - why do we actually ever believe them - we enjoyed a glorious sunny day, with just enough of a breeze to keep the horses cool and calm.
Despite the format of the sport having changed so much over the years, becoming increasingly global, the Furusiyya FEI Nations' Cup still seems to have that slightly magical draw of tradition. Just talking to the triumphant USA team, with a bevy of veteran Olympians among them, they said there’s just nothing quite like the feeling you get when standing with your team mates on the podium, hand on heart, listening to your national anthem. A disappointing day for the Brits - you win some, you lose some - but the sport was terrific.
I was also spoiled by my choice of viewing companions, as one of my best friends Matthew Broome (David Broome’s son) managed to escape running their own busy showground in Wales for the day, and some excellent gossiping was done. We were also lucky enough to be joined by former showjumper Anne Newbury and her sister Mandy Coleman, two daughters of my godfather David (the legendary commentator and Director of Hickstead). We had a lovely afternoon reminiscing about our respective fathers, and made sure to raise a glass or two in their honour. Sadly none of the hilarious stories of Dad and David are fit to reprint!
We’ve had new electric security gates put in recently, and it’s been totally hilarious busting people who clearly have sneakily been using that entrance for years (which I know from the number of little phone calls I’ve had saying “Daise….. you wouldn’t just tell us what the code for the gate is!”) Anyway, David Broome arrived and realised he was locked out. But we were of course happy to let him have the code, and never let it be said that we don’t have the most elite security in the world, as when an eagle-eyed member of the public snuck in behind them David got out of the car, and shooed them off back to the main entrance! I love it, we have the most famous bouncer in the world.
I’ve also had quite a hilarious day of being a general poser, as I had a photocall with Skelly for our wonderful sponsors Charles Owen Helmets. Then I had an even funnier one for Point Two Air Jackets, where I had to pose with a cup (not of the fancy trophy variety, but a branded mug) for a campaign they’re doing… I was aiming for a nice sophisticated shot of me elegantly posing by the main ring – then did a very stupid face like a monkey and that’s the one they chose. It’s fun, apparently! When will I learn? On that note, before I can tell you any more embarrassing stories about myself I shall sign off until tomorrow… Ladies’ Day and clearly one of my best days of the year! I have a hat/fascinator thingy that nearly rivals my famous Hickstead rosette one of a few years back, so keep your eyes peeled!
Ps – The lovely Richard Davison, my mate and British Olympic dressage legend, popped in to say hello and found it too hilarious for words that I actually write my blog in a store cupboard in the Master’s Box! It’s genuinely the only quiet place on the whole showground. He sneakily papped me and sent it to the Horse & Country web team so you can all see for yourselves. Don’t worry, I’ll get him back."