|The Wonderfully Colourful British Riding Club Eventing Championships At Swalcliffe Park|
With the children happily engaged in a play date, I found myself with a free day – bonus! There was little prospect of carriage driving or riding at such short notice, so decided to head out with the camera for a little more practice.
|Watching The Show Jumping|
I couldn’t face dodging the showers at Gatcombe so had planned to go to Chilham Horse Trials in Canterbury, which is a beautiful setting.
With a late start to the day, and on the toss of a coin at a petrol station I decided to go to Swalcliffe Park, near Banbury for the SEIB British Riding Clubs National Horse Trials Championships after a tip off on twitter from course builder, Carl Fletcher. Just as well as I would probably have missed most of the cross country at Chilham had I attempted to tackle the M25 at that time of day.
Instead I wound my way through the pretty chocolate box villages of Oxfordshire between Blenheim and Banbury to eventually arrive at Swalcliffe Park, and a “grassroots festival of eventing”. Rows upon rows of horsesboxes, tents, trailers and anything else you might find at Glastonbury filled a quarter mile stretch between the gateway and the dressage arenas, and I don’t think I’ve seen so many people sat on horses in the warm up watching the show jumping.
|Great Riding Skills On Display Throughout The Day|
This championship runs in the classic format with various heights up to a metre, and all the horses I saw making their way down to the steeplechase were on their toes as they headed across the cross country course to the fields beyond. I’m not very familiar with the riding club circuit, and didn’t expect to see four star riding standards, but this was a championship. There was a great age range competing, from teenagers to those a lot greyer than me, that were riding as well as any professional. I probably only saw one or two silly run-outs or refusals.
|Swalcliffe Has Plenty of Undulating Terrain|
Swalcliffe Park run BE affiliated events too, and this is a very undulating course with plenty of opportunity to gallop, and some great vistas.
It has good stablished pasture for the cross country, which you could probably compare to somewhere like the new event running at Wellington, Berks. The other thing I particularly noticed was how well all the horses were finishing on quite a physically demanding course run in the classic long format. It was fast going, and perfect weather conditions, but all credit to the riders.
As far as the competition goes, I’ll have to defer you to the BRC website as I couldn’t find any results during the break and probably wouldn’t understand them given the complexity of the start times Sarah-Jane Brown kindly sent to me over twitter. It’s been a long week!
It was a wonderful day out in the countryside with great weather, great views, and a great group of people all getting a real buzz from riding in a championship. The twitter bio of one of the guys there sums up the crowd and atmosphere:
“One of the myriad of Dads out there whose daughters are horse-mad & who is fascinated and enthralled by these wonderful creatures”
Props to the Horse Husbands & Dads!
I’ll leave you with a few more photos: