"Some riders are good at the whole technology thing. They have websites, twitter pages, Facebook fan sites, and they actually update them (or persuade a nice PR lady to do it for them). Others are far too busy riding and competing to go near a computer, and wouldn't know a smart phone if it bit them!
But US event rider Doug Payne falls firmly in the former camp. We love this video he's made of his horse Running Order, who started life in Ireland as a racehorse trained by Enda Bolger, and ended up eventing at four-star level. Doug shows you the horse's transformation, from early first attempts at dressage and jumping, to advanced level eventing. It's a fascinating glimpse of how a professional produces a horse, showing you his career path in just 18mins.
The horse is now over here in the UK, being ridden by William Fox-Pitt.
If you’ve ever walked around the cross-country course at Badminton you’ll know just how fear-inducing those massive fences are. Anyone brave enough to jump it is, in our minds slightly mad and totally heroic.
But at least the competitors last weekend had a talented horse between their legs helping them to get to the other side if the jumps.
What we are witness to here is one man’s mission to throw himself over the fences, minus the (we think) essential horse component. It’s not eventing, but it’s certainly very impressive and gives a unique perspective on one of the world’s toughest cross-county tracks.
The man in question is 22-year-old Mat Armitage from Basingstoke who is part of 3Run; a professional performance team which combines the latest urban craze of parcour and free running (where people use only their bodies to propel themselves over obstacles) with martial arts and acrobatics.
Mat doesn’t quite manage a clear round – that distinctly looks like a run out at the skinny hedge after the steps up at fence 22 – but at least he returns home in one piece.
"Don't live in pity - I don't want pity - I want people to enjoy life like me." Barbara Angel, who has fought breast cancer, had a mastectomy and is still undergoing chemotherapy, completed the Badminton Horse Trials Grassroots Championships last weekend. Watch her inspiring video message above.
"If you’ve ever taken a fall in public, when the only thing you hurt was your pride, then you’ll know exactly how the president of Turkmenistan felt when he and his favourite horse Berkarar (The Powerful) took a tumble, just after crossing the finishing line in first place.
Getting up and walking away really isn’t an option, so you just lie there for a few minutes, hoping that people will lose interest and look away - enabling you to make a quick exit unseen.
Unlike president Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, however, you probably don’t have such a big entourage (and if you do, we’re pretty sure they not all dressed this smartly) who can dash to the scene to spare your dignity. Fall, what fall?
While the video is all over YouTube, the president managed to spare his blushes back home, as according to The Telegraph the state media managed to miss out the bit where he hit the deck, and only focused on the glory of his victory. At least he had the decency to donate the $11 million prize money to an official horse fund."
Cancer survivor Barbara Angel competed in the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials Grassroots event today. Barbara was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer last and had a mastectomy, and is still under going chemotherapy. Though she qualified for the inaugural Grassroots event in 2010, she broke her collar bone just two weeks before, while last year was rained off. This year, in glorious sunshine, she achieved her dream.
In the run-up to his Rolex Grand Slam attempt at Badminton, William Fox-Pitt talks about what's been going on in his life over the past few months.
"The big excitement at the end of October last year was definitely the arrival of Chloe Rose into the family! Luckily she waited to appear before I got back from Pau, so her timing was perfect. She’s now six month’s old and it’s like she’s always been here – she gets on really well with her two older brothers, and parents for that matter – we’ve been very lucky, she’s a good girl.
The break I had between November and January was fairly baby focused. Normally at that time of year we would have a holiday, Alice and I, but this year that wasn’t really going to be possible. That said, I did go to Adelaide for the four-star event over there. I was originally going to take a horse to the show, but by the time that had become impossible to do due to horse quarantines, I was already committed to going, so I went to Australia for 10 days, which was highly enjoyable – there was very hot nice weather, and it was good to experience a different side of the world. Apart from that we’ve just been around the UK enjoying a quieter time over the winter. The horses had a holiday, grooms had a holiday, we had a holiday, and although we didn’t get away we were by no means working hard.
The feeling around the team is good. After the Olympics, I felt that this year may be a bit of an anti-climax for everyone as it was such a big focus throughout last season, but actually this year has got me really excited due to our horses’ prospects. I had a few that missed 2012 because of injury that have now come back into work, so for the season ahead I have lots of exceptional horses to concentrate on. I’ve got a new top horse called Running Order, who came from America, and I’m very excited about him. He’s produced by Doug Payne and is at four-star level, he rode in the Rolex Kentucky last year, and although it’s early days he’s a super horse. Cool Mountain is also back, having been injured last year, which was a shame as he missed out on the Olympics. I’m hoping he will be back up to top form very soon.
The spring season has started well, we did have quite a frustrating start with cancellations at two or three events thanks to the weather, but since then its dried up well and I’ve had some good competitions with the horses, including Burnham Market and Weston Park, where the horses have run well and felt good. Results aren't always my focus at the one-day events but they are always good training for the three-days.
I'm riding Seacookie and Chilli Morning at Kentucky, while for Badminton I’m taking Parklane Hawk and Oslo. It’s been very much business as usual for me in the lead up to Badminton, but there has been some perennial hype surrounding Badminton and this year the Rolex Grand Slam too. The build-up is always exciting, and this season has been fantastic with lots of media interest and various interviews. It’s important for me to realise though that winning at Badminton is a very long shot, as this year looks very competitive thanks largely to a high international contingent, including Michael Jung among others. Then again, if I do my bit, with the horses on good form, it’s by no means a foregone conclusion.
I don’t think whether Andrew is in contention for the Rolex Grand Slam or not makes much difference to me. I have to win Badminton either way if I am to claim the Grand Slam, which means beating him. However it would obviously make things highly exciting, and create another edge to the competition, which everyone would love, but I think it won’t make that much difference at the end of the day."
William is the current live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing prize. Follow our reports throughout Badminton at our special minisite
Every time we hear of another racing superstar being scanned in foal to the great Frankel, we get goosebumps with excitement. The latest lady to be confirmed as expecting one of Frankel's first crop of foals is Midday, the multiple Group 1 winner.
In this video, Midday is scanned at the 25 day stage. You can see the foetus (and hopeful future megastar) and its heartbeat.
While we are very, very glad that Rosie Morton wasn’t seriously hurt when her horse booted her in the head, we can’t help feeling that trying to jump bareback, in the snow, might have been somewhat risky.
The 18-year-old from Brecon, South Wales was lucky to escape with a large cut near her eye, which we get to see in all its gory glory at the end of the clip. It also makes us cringe every time we hear the sickening sound of hoof hitting her hat.
"If I hadn't been wearing my riding hat, I would have been a lot more seriously injured, if not dead,” she told the Telegraph. “I didn't always used to wear it when I was riding Luke, but I will from now on.”
Champion jockey AP McCoy and former jockey Richard Pitman reflect on some of the Aintree Grand National legends, including the unforgettable Red Rum.
The 2013 John Smith’s Grand National will mark 40 years since Red Rum claimed the first of his three victories (1973, 1974 and 1977). The 2013 John Smith's Grand National Meeting takes place at Aintree from Thursday 4 to Saturday 6 April. For information and tickets, visit www.aintree.co.uk