Visit to Aintree Racecourse on Becher Chase Raceday

We were treated to a fantastic day at Aintree Racecourse. A guided tour and course walk was followed by a sit-down lunch in a private function room and an afternoon’s racing.

December 8th dawned dry and sunny despite a wet and windy forecast. We were greeted with coffee and mince pies, which was a sign of things to come. We were so well looked after throughout the day. Daniel Cooper, Trainee Clerk of the Course began the tour by taking us to the Parade Ring, followed by the jockeys Changing Room which we very lucky to get a glimpse of. We were there fairly early so it was empty apart from a couple of valets working away. There was an area dedicated to A P McCoy, his saddle, boots, body protector, hat etc. We were then taken to the Weighing Room where a discussion was had about weighing in and out. Interesting facts included that jockeys are allowed a 3lb clothing allowance. When weighing back in, jockeys are allowed to be up to 1lb light due to sweating on a hot day. They are allowed to be up to 2lbs heavy due to rain and mud in wet conditions.

On the way to the stables we were shown how a hurdle is constructed and a discussion was had on materials and colours and how much safer jumps are today than they were in the past.

We were privileged to be allowed in to the stable area. Some trainers are superstitious and like the same stable numbers. Stable hygiene is very strict. Stables are emptied, jet washed and fumigated between horses. We had a talk from vets Jim Tipp and Paddy Macandrew and were shown round facilities including a knockdown box where horses can be brought in anaesthetised. Vets are employed by the racecourse to ensure horse welfare which it was evident is of paramount importance. There are a minimum of 3 vets in attendance per race, more for a long race and as many as one vet per 2-3 fences on the National course. Common injuries include over-reach injuries, tendon injuries, stress and catastrophic fractures, usually cannon bone or fetlock joint injuries. When you consider that the load on the fetlock at full speed is 3 tonnes every stride, that’s not surprising!

Amy Bannister-Bell, who had organised the day, then conducted a course walk and it soon became evident that Amy has an encyclopedic knowledge of Aintree, and the Grand National in particular! The course at Aintree always finishes in the same place, the start obviously differs depending on the length of the race. Fence 3 provides the first test on the course, an open ditch. The Chair is the biggest fence on the course, so called because a judge’s chair used to be positioned at one end. Foinavon is named after a horse who won and was the only one not to be taken out by a loose horse in 1967. He won at 100-1! The fences were big and imposing but horse friendly and certainly a lot safer than they used to be in the past when the course included many more upright fences, natural hedges and doubles! Fence construction and horse welfare is a top priority and improvements continue to be made. Since 2013 all National fences have a flexi brush plastic core and since then no horses have been lost in the Grand National as a result of a fall. It was also interesting to see the Catching Pens, of which there are 3, just on the National Course. Loose horses cannot gallop past those fences but instead are caught in the Catching Pens. Amy and Alice form part of the Catching Team who operate at each of the 5 fixtures at Aintree which run over the National fences.

Just as it started to rain we headed off to Paddock Lodge, a private function room where we ate a delicious lunch. To top it all off there was a raffle in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund which I was lucky enough to win! The raffle raised a fabulous £300. We were then able to enjoy an afternoon’s racing at our leisure. Of particular interest were the 2 races running over the National fences.

What a fabulous opportunity to see behind the scenes at such an iconic venue! Many thanks to Amy for all her hard work in organising such a unique, interesting and enjoyable day.

Report by Tessa Ryley BHSI

A Day at the Races

November 8th dawns – well actually it hasn’t as the alarm went off at 1.15AM & it’s pitch black!  Fran & I left Malsbury Cottage in Wexford at 2.15 AM to drive to Dublin Airport to change Faith into Fran as dear Faith had a family bereavement, the wig wouldn’t stay on Fran’s head & he point blank refused to take off the moustache, so we were told we had to check in at the desk in plenty of time.  Dublin Airport T2 Aer Lingus, YES we are not going on Michael’s airline BUT we went to Gate 335 and Oh Dear we had to go down steps catch a bus and then WALK across the tarmac to the plane.  With me stating in a loud voice with tons of marbles in me mouth “But as this is Aer Fungus I wanted to go down a tunnel to board NOT a bus ride & walk” Anyway, we arrived safely in Gatwick & found Dahling Sam C W & Peter who were to drive us to NEWBURY RACECOURSE.  There we met with other like – minded people all going to support the BHS Charity Race at 12 noon and for us it was Ann Bostock we were cheering for.

Loads of us gathered in the paddock to cheer ‘our’ rider whilst her trainer Brendan Powell legged her up onto No 8 Gannicus, he of Irish breeding, Ann had that steely determined look on her face – the one that says don’t argue with me.  In fact, a young Irish Lad who became a BHSI/St 5 Coach last year & who is coming to the Annual Course has pleaded with me not to let Ann ask him anything about Point to Pointers!  Then popping on the specs & reading the Race card I see other riders I know.  Holy Moly that’s Alan he of Police horses & Ride Safe.  So off they canter down to the start & suddenly they’re off.  “Come On Ann” and she did, she rode a wonderful race.  The cheers that greeted the riders as they later came up to the BHS room, the Race Goers room in the Dubai Grandstand were phenomenal.

What to remind you about our Fellows & Instructors Association’s Vice Chair the Formidable Ann Bostock?  35 years ago, she had open heart surgery & then this year things started to go wrong again & she was in & out of hospital ending up with an 8-hour operation in mid-August.  Ann started riding again on 5th September and it’s been a roller coaster ride to pass the fitness test, find a horse and get to the stage of being able to hold her own & come in the first 5 of a 10-horse race.


Meanwhile there was lunch to be had a silent auction & a ‘real’ auction, far too much prosecco was drunk by yours truly who is now the holder of a Day for Two on the Doc Martin set in Cornwall!!!!!  We stepped back into the house at 1.15AM 9th November.

Report by Jillie Rogers

Burghley Course Walk with Eric Smiley FBHS

Honesty, Energy, Time

Those that attended the course walk were in for a treat this year as we were lucky to get input not only from Eric but Captain Mark Phillips himself.

At the very beginning of the walk the first thing Eric explained was that as a rider you need to know your horse, your own style and clearly have an objective. Are you here to be competitive? Are you here just to complete or are you here to drink some beer and say you have ridden at Burghley! This divides the field into three clear groups. A four-star track will easily split the riders up but each group will think about the course in a slightly different way. Eric asked us to think of a specific horse we work with or train and imagine how we would deal with each fence riding that horse.

The next thing to think about is the course designer’s background; how did he ride cross country, was he brave, was he accurate? These kinds of questions will give you an incite into the mind of the designer and help you to understand his style and the type of questions he is asking you.

The designer has a tough job, because beside simply building a 4* course, he has external pressure from the FEI and media to try and prevent bad press. With this in mind Eric explained the course is fully up to height from the start. The reason for this is to try and eliminate combinations near the beginning which are not genuine 4* competitors. Eliminate them early before they get tired and present a bad image later on.


Eric’s theme for the walk was based around Honesty, Energy and Time. To complete inside the time, you need a good balance of all three and you can’t afford to run out of any. On this course it is difficult to maintain the speed due to the influence of the environment, there are lots of narrow ‘lanes’ where the horse has so much to look at they will be reluctant to keep moving fast enough, for example in and out of the main arena and this alone puts pressure on the time factor. This will mean it takes a canny rider to shave every turn and ride every line with true accuracy to be able to get close to the time.


Eric’s attention to every detail started to show more and more as we progressed through the course. He pointed out the innocuous log pile placed just after the part A log at fence 5. He explained Mark was beginning to challenge the horses in a subtle way and see if they could hold their line. The log pile is neatly stacked just to the side, but the horses won’t see it until they are in the air and if they are not ready for the level it will make them spook away and off their line.

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At fence 6 you need to make a moving rebalance 1/4 25m circle, keep coming and use as a confidence fence. Eric explained that there will be a lot of people who interfere too much with the canter and will struggle to find a stride- expect some expletives!

The first proper Burghley question comes at fence 7 with the famous Leaf pit. To a certain extent a test of courage, Eric said it rides better than you think but it comes up very fast! His main comments here were around basic rider skills. Knot your reins so you don’t go to buckle, then you will still be able to steer to the skinnies and make sure you swap your whip into the appropriate hand for your horse! He said it is very surprising to him how many riders at this level keep their whip in the same hand for the whole course!


Back at the Discovery Valley we met Mark Phillips. He was kind enough to spend a few minutes discussing the course and gave some insight into his methods. If you look at a fence 3 times change it, it’s not right, it isn’t the dimensions, it just isn’t right. We discussed leaf pit and he had heard a lot of riders discussing the longer alternative as they think they can go long but maintain a higher average speed. He felt that to make a good completion it is very much about risk management and knowing where you can take those risks, or not. He felt the trout hatchery was the most difficult combination on course. He described it as a high-risk area with so many opportunities to go wrong that the riders will need to have super-fast reactions and make good decisions according to their individual circumstances.

Mark didn’t think any rider will make time but would be delighted if all riders got round. In order to attempt it they need to be hitting their early minute markers exactly, too fast and they will have too much lactic acid and will falter later on. They will need to be very efficient with their lines to get close.

Mark’s final comments were around fence dressing. Everything you see is to enhance the course. For example, the flowers on the ends of the rails in the Rolex combination are there to help the horses read the rail as they go over it, not just to look pretty. He explained that horses see in contrast due to the composition of cones and rods in their eyes, so they are very careful with where they use certain jump colours. For example, don’t use dark rails in dark areas or shiny white rails into reflective water. Most fatalities come from the leading edge, so we do as much as possible to help the horse read the front rail of the fence.

After we parted with Mark we went onto the trout hatchery, so many choices so you really need to know your horse. This is where Eric’s ratio of Honesty:Energy:Time is so well illustrated. You need to train horses to be quick thinkers and honest, the fast ones will save lots of time here but will have dipped into honesty box. If they don’t it will become very tiring and they are going to pay for that over the next undulating bit of the course.


As always, the Rolex combination is big and tricky, you need to be bold in so you have options to be careful and hope you’ve put enough in the honesty box.

Capability cutting is very disruptive to the canter and almost becomes a related distance at the top, so this is a fence sapping energy. If you have trained your horse to look at the top rail 17 a & b shouldn’t be a problem. You need to keep coming forward, make a moving rebalance and not waste time and energy.

There is a long pull up hill to the inspiring Cottesmore leap, swinging right to an accuracy test of 2 shoulder brushes or two arrow heads before the last big test on course. The Clarence Court Egg box combinations is another place where you need to assess how much you have left of your reserves and once again trade honesty, speed and energy!

The final fences are fairly simple, you have answered the questions of the course, now the test is to see how fit your horse is and test the focus of the riders. 27 is disruptive to flow of getting home and need to ensure they see and don’t leave a leg and after that beware of ‘last fenceitis!’

Thank you, Eric for a thoroughly enjoyable and informative course walk and good luck to your horse!

Fred Hodges BHSI

The Royal International Horse Show, Hickstead

What a super day I had at The Royal International Horse Show on Saturday 28th July.  The day was spent with many other F & I members and their guests where we had the luxury of the BHS box    with a supply of drinks and a lovely lunch right next to the main ring.  I wouldn’t like to try to work out how many times I have been, but I always love it and this year definitely didn’t disappoint!

We watched a speed class, some showing classes (Miniature Horse and Supreme Hack championships) and the fast and furious Scurry Driving.  It was particularly lovely that we were all able to congratulate Elisabeth Boyce, the latest member of the F & I group who was awarded her certificate by Lynn Petersen (BHS CEO) and Jillie Rogers (Chair of F&I).  Congratulations Beth!

Highlight of the day for me was walking The Queen Elizabeth Cup course.  Matt Sampson kindly took us round.  (He’s the chap who sang his way to Bolesworth International show by serenading Nina Barbour (the show’s organiser!)).  The arena had the most amazing green grass (I’m struggling to remember what that looks like!) and was like a cushion to walk on.   What never ceases to amaze me about Hickstead’s arena is the undulations of the ground which you struggle to appreciate on the television.   The course builder cleverly used these undulations to make a technical and tricky course for the riders.  Matt was most informative during the walk.  He highlighted the first fence as an area where the horses may lose their concentration due to the camera man who was on one side of the approach and a big TV screen on the other.  The third fence was a large parallel (although there weren’t any small fences!) with a hedge as a filler in the centre which Matt felt was not particularly inviting.    Another fence, quite early on, had horizontal stripes and he commented that horses can struggle to assess these though, in the competion, neither fence caused too many problems with these experienced horse and rider combinations!

We put Matt on the spot and asked him what he expected the result to be.  He predicted there would be 8 through to the jump off and that James Whitaker would win (because he wanted him to win as he’s his mate!)  Well he got one prediction right anyway!

Four made it through to the jump off – there were plenty of problems around the course – notably at the water jump (some horses definitely said ‘no’ to this) and also the treble – which came up quickly after the water on a right-hand turn.  Possibly some horses were rattled by the water jump and others were keen to leave at the nearby exit!  Of the four riders who were in the jump off, three of these were female – quite apt for the Queen Elizabeth cup – one being Pippa Funnel riding her husband’s lovely stallion Billy Congo, now 17.  He seemed to be on springs!  The combination achieved a second clear round but finished as runner up to the only man in the jump off, James Whitaker riding Glenavadra Brillivant.

The day concluded with a speed class – talk about riding forward …..!    The end to another fantastic day at Hickstead.  Thank you to the BHS, the Education Team were well in evidence, with our own members of F&I Oonagh Meyer and Julian Campbell. The Director of Education Alex Copeland joined us with his family and, of course, the wonderful Karen Irving who organised us all brilliantly! 

Nicole Biggs BHSI

Jumping Techniques Training Day Nick Turner FBHS

at Bold Heath Equestrian Centre, Cheshire on 5th July 2018.

We had five groups of eager riders for the training day with Nick Turner. Mark Baker and his team at Bold Heath had built a fantastic track for us, with a testing series of jumping exercises for us.
They have fantastic outdoor arenas at Bold Heath, which we planned to use but due to the penetrating rays of the sun they kindly let us have the indoor school! The surface was amazing, which allowed us to ride more confidently and positively through the exercises.

Nick expertly supported and challenged us through combinations of angled fences, skinnies, spreads, corners and brush fences. All the exercises required us to commit to a positive canter and hold focus and conviction to the line. This really allowed the horses’ to think, perform and learn.

This was shown very clearly by Mark Baker’s and Becky Cooper’s young horses who really began to understand what was being asked of them and improve their technique and confidence.

Common themes with many riders where, preparing sufficient balance and energy in the canter and maintaining an equal contact with hands together and down to allow the horse to think and react. Props to hold or riding with reins in one hand were used to assist control of the contact in some cases!

Nick did a wonderful job involving spectators in discussions whilst they were observing the sessions. All horses and riders survived the heat and humidity and were provided with challenge and skills they can use in the future.

A huge ‘thank you’ to Nick Turner and all at Bold Heath.
We look forward to the next time!

Sue Ricketts BHSI

F&I Day in Ireland


Photo by Fran Russell

On arrival we were greeted and shown round by Olga Doyle (Greg Broderick’s sister). Greg represented Ireland as the only Irish show jumper at the Rio Olympics in 2016. I think to say we were blown away by the organisation of the whole operation was an understatement. There was design and thought oozing out of every corner. The whole underlying principle of the yard is a horse centred equine production where no corner is cut and no detail forgotten. First, we were shown around the newly constructed barn and client reception rooms all of which were beautifully finished and appointed with everything an international buyer could want; kitchen, comfortable seating and viewing galleries of both the indoor school and two grass arenas.

The American barn had a traditional look and feel with beautiful bamboo doors, a resilient non-water absorbing material with the V opening off to one side to protect the door from horse damage. Each stable was kitted out to perfection with sealed rubber matting throughout, deep shavings beds, sloping drains and innovative drinkers shrouded with a protective cage to prevent damage. The barn also hosted the most elegant tacking up stalls, wash bays, feed room and tack room all of which demonstrated fantastic design features – in the tack room there is a thermostatically controlled underfloor heating system. A huge upgrade from Greg’s original yard where exactly the same care was being given to those horses as they were prepared for exercise.

During discussion Olga made it clear that it is not only about the riding and the facilities but the care and recovery that are essential to successful horse training, with a vibration plate onsite which combined with regular hacking out and visits to the river as a natural hydro spa scheduled for each horse meant we saw some very happy horses. Daily individual turn out is key at Ballypatrick, however if a horse needs a companion “Jessie” the pony is always on hand for moral support!! The young horses were group housed in groups of six giving them time to “Be Horses” as they start their equine journey.

With 66 horses here in training and 20 staff this operation truly is mammoth. It was striking that though Greg was away competing in Belgium every staff member quietly worked away to the same motto, “It’s the last 1% that makes the difference” -Olga Doyle.

Prior to going across to Fethard we were treated to Ballypatrick hospitality with masses of coffee tea and homemade cakes and scones.

Fethard Horse Museum was a fantastic opportunity to understand the key place the thoroughbred horse has in County Tipperary. There was plenty of background information into the history of the town, showing how Coolmore Stud and Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle has become the mainstay of the thoroughbred industry. Here we say Sadler’s Wells skeleton – what a small horse for such enormous talent, the sire of so many winners who lived till he was 30.

We arrived at Coolmore meeting our guide Jack Dolan at the bronze statue of ‘Be Our Guest’. The original 350 acre farm was bought by the syndicate of John Magnier, Vincent O’Brien and Robert Sangster in 1975 making it one of the newer stud farms in Ireland. From there it grew into the 7,000 acres in the heart of the Golden Vale. All the hay and feed are grown on the farm which also has a beef enterprise, however, we were there to see the stallions. There are 16 stallions standing at Coolmore part of the 66 that make up Coolmore International which takes in USA Australia and Ireland.

The breeding season here starts on Valentine’s day and concludes around the end of June. In pursuit of “the early foal” all stables are fitted with UV lights which are set to entrain circadian rhythms to facilitate an early breeding season. Equine breeding is closely linked with the light and dark cycle. UV light is also closely linked with equine wellbeing.

We visited many of the 16 stallions on the stallion yards, including the new ones Carrivaggio and Churchill. Unfortunately, we did not see the world famous Galileo – son of Sadler’s Wells – who was out for his 4 mile walk on an enclosed wood-chip walkway. Walking around the stallions was like walking round an up market semi-detached housing estate. Each pair of horses had their own ‘house’ with a central tack room. Their daily programme includes daily turn out in individual paddocks, walking on the wood chip walk and ‘canter-work’ in the lunge pen to keep them in peak condition, which in turn keeps their fertility as high as possible. As the covering season in the Northern hemisphere now draws to a close some of the stallions travel to the Southern hemisphere, to Coolmore Australia.
After visiting many of the stallions Jack took us thorough the covering process including swabs etc. Biosecurity is a huge concern at Coolmore with all swabbed and teased by ‘Marmalade’, the most important person in the covering yard Jack explained as we saw this small bay bundle! The coverings are also filmed, again for security reasons.

Overall a fantastic day and many thanks to Faith Ponsonby for organising such a fabulous day. A donation of £240 was made to the charity CALM in memory of Tom Searle. We are all looking forward to next year – same week for your diaries- when we will visit Jessica Harrington National Hunt Trainer and the National Stud.

Report written by Brendan Bergin BHSI.
Photography by Fran Russell.

Report from Bramham

We were lucky to have the opportunity to study the Burghley young event horse classes with the assistance of Nicola Baguley who has bred and ridden winners here. 
Firstly we studied the 5 year olds starting with the dressage where the marks are awarded with future potential in mind as a opposed to it being based totally on the performance on the day.

A discussion on the influence that the strength and maturity of the warmblood breed type versus the thoroughbred was provoked which linked in to the apparent dilution of the significance of the dressage mark due to the new coefficient.

Onto the jumping and the height and complexity of the 5 year olds class had caused several to withdraw. We weighed up the merits of introducing a young horse to such a big atmosphere to further its education with the potential risk of a negative experience and a loss of confidence.
 Nicola explained that a pole down was not to be considered detrimental as long as the horse learned from this and jumped further fences better as a result.

The conformation and trot up followed directly afterwards and it was surprising how several horses seemed unprepared for this. Although we couldn’t see in detail this section as it was the other side of the ring Nicola let us into a few trot up secrets to disguise some defects in action etc!

After this the top 10 were announced and brought back in to be viewed at the gallop by another judge who has not viewed any of the last 3 sections. This judge is looking for the WOW factor as Nicola kept reiterating this class is designed to pick out future champions not just a nice type.

Much discussion arose on who liked which (my chosen horse proved popular within our group and was pulled in last in this section!) This provoked discussion on how subjective the results are and then further the relevance of this class as a showcase for breeders and producers. 
Nicola highlighted the influence of having a known professional on board and also the importance of making the picture look right. ( ie having a petite rider on a small horse and a larger jockey on a taller and stronger type).
  All the marks from the dressage, jumping, conformation and the gallop are then added together to produce the final line up.

We delayed our wonderful lunch on the BHS stand to view the stallion parade in which Nicola rode her wonderful Connemara Glencarrig Dolphin. Much was informally discussed on horse type and breeding and it was a great opportunity to see some of the popular stallions standing in the north.

After lunch we viewed the 4 year old class and as expected the horses were weaker and greener but as Nicola pointed out they had had less time to be produced for the class and that perhaps a clearer view of natural potential could be seen at this age. This was perhaps a point I considered to be of significance.

Without doubt I think that we all as a group agreed that trainability was a priority above raw talent especially for riders of a more mature age!

Finally thank you Ruth Baxter for organising a wonderful and informative day, and of course also to Nicola for giving her valuable input and encouraging some lively discussion.

Report by Lisa Morris BHSI



So, Faith Ponsonby and I offered our services to the BHS as volunteers on their various stands and what fun we had. We started in the Carlton Hotel near Dublin Airport as with a very early flight to Bristol Thursday morning, the decision was made that driving up to the airport in the early hours of the morning, 3am, was not an option if we were to be fresh and on top form. The Carlton did us proud but unfortunately it did set the bar rather high for our B&B in Chippenham!! We collected a tiny Fiat, promptly named Cherry and set off. Due to some flaws in our navigational skills we saw a great deal of Bristol!! However, we now know where the University is situated and the Cathedral.

The Princess Royal discusses the mechanical horse with Sam York FBHS. Photo credit Sally Newcomb

So, on arrival at Badminton we were in time for the BHS Debate, some very interesting points were debated and gave food for thought and talking about food the Lunch in a very smart tent for The Fellows & F&I Association was just fabulous. Beautifully served and very tasty it was a welcome meal as the B&B breakfast was not particularly appetising looking. After watching some dressage tests, we changed into glad rags as courtesy of Jenny Ham we were guests of hers at the Badminton cocktail party. OH WOW!! What fun, what a house & what wonderful paintings and garden. I did manage to scoop my jaw up off the ground on a regular basis especially as we bumped into Mr BHS Himself, David, and the Lovely Sam York – in a frightfully posh frock. We ended the day with a most delectable meal in a friend of Jenny’s horsebox.

The Princess Royal with BHS Chairman David Sheerin. Photo credit Sally Newcomb

Friday dawns, getting hotter, and this is ‘our’ day for shopping catching up with people and again watching dressage but first a F&I Committee meeting. Then a slight deviation as we walked the course with Nick Turner on the F&I Course Walk so ably organised by our Vice Chair Ann Bostock. Well now I say course walk with some reservations as to my little collected walk Nick is on a huge extended walk needing me to frequently break into trot. There is an ‘in depth’ report on this on its way. We were able to present to the BHS, as Charity of Badminton, £300+, not bad ladies & gentlemen thank you and my thanks to Nick.

Saturday, and we are to work on the stand with the mechanical horse. YES! That’s it no more mucking out, grooming, shoeing bills I’m sold on Henry. We had such fun helping people to improve their balance, for some a first time sit on a ‘horse’ and for others the chance to practise the flying changes under Faith’s tutelage. Having walked the course, the previous day we decided to watch some of the riders on the big screen and then we made our way to the Lake found ourselves an extremely good spot and drank in the atmosphere and excitement. No, I did not imbibe in the alcohol as I was in charge of Cherry. We saw Mark Todd, Oli Townend and others tackle the fences in and out of the Lake, including the one horse who having deposited his rider decided to ‘lock’ on to the picket fence and so nearly jump into the private enclosure, being turned by a nimble jump steward just before take-off. A frightening experience but also interesting as I was taken back to the BHS Convention when both Chris Bartle & Sam York were talking about watching the horse as he ‘locks’ on to his fence.

Sunday, last day, and again we were helping in BHS tents, Faith back with the mechanical horse and me making teas & coffees!!!. We had to leave at 1pm so when we had seen the course jumped once we were happy.

Well done BHS. We were proud to be part of your Charity fund raising at Badminton Horse Trials. Brilliant advertising from when we first drove on to the field, along with all the various stands, coffee places and the new travelling classroom. So many hard-working people from all the BHS departments as well as other keen volunteers.
Jillie Rogers BHSI Fellows & Instructors Association Chair.

F&I Badminton XC Course walk with Nick Turner

The F&I Badminton XC Course walk with Nick Turner, kindly organised by Ann Bostock, report written by Charlotte Tarrant BHS Stage 5 Performance Coach.

This year the XC at Badminton ran in reverse to last year however it still started in the main arena with the traditional flower box. It’s not a challenging fence but horses and riders must stay focussed. As the horse and riders exited the arena they went left, through the collecting arena and across the road to fence 2, the “Rolex Feeder” which was a decent sheep feeder. This is where the group met Nick where he explained that the ground has been wet and as it dries at Badminton it becomes tacky and holding so riders seeing long strides might find their horses do not jump out. We were then off and were hot footing it across the course!

We went past fence 3, “Horsequest Hump” and walked straight to fence 4ab, “Horsequest Quarry” here we paused for Nick to explain the fences. At fence 3 which is a new jump at Badminton the combinations are given a bit of a wake-up to help them set up for things to come. It was a mound with a lovely tree on the top and a bold forward approach was needed. Fence 4a was over the upright wall which dropped down into the quarry followed by a turn left and up the steep incline over another upright wall for 4b. Nick liked this as it was a confidence building combination. The striding wouldn’t be a problem as horses jump so well off the rising ground.

Off we went again to fence 5 the “Rolex Grand Slam Skinny”. This fence could be ridden with various approaches, but Nick suggested hugging the rails around the tree and jumping the jump (a narrow-curved brush with a ditch in front) on the angle – easy!

 Fence 6abc, the “Irish Sport Horse Huntsman Close” here we had a look from both sides to see just how acute the angles were for these tree trunks. To get to Huntsman’s close there was a bit of a run down from the previous fence, here Nick said riders would need to set up to break their speed and jump “A” on the angle to help take time to jump “B” and “C” the real acute angled logs on two strides. There were options here, but Nick said these would take seven hours to do however he could see it causing issues later on.


We very quickly marched off and passed fence 7 on the way to fence 8 to get ahead of the enormous group that were on William Fox-Pitt’s walk. Fence 7 the “Traders Table” was a BIG table, Nick said this was a decent 4* fence and that it has a bit of a kink in it and a downhill approach, so riders need to get horses heads up!

Fence 8, the “Wadworths Water” was a hanging log on the angle over water. Here we were told that as you come up the hill it is smaller than you think but anything that’s a little cautious here you should kick on. It sets the tone for things to come next at the lake and that a left of centre approach was best.

On landing into the lake riders would come out and canter around the edge to the main water complex at the lake, fence 9abc. 


9a was a decent log dropping into the lake, Nick said riders will have to ride positively on a ¾ turn in to help keep the hind leg underneath the horse. Recover on landing from “A” get the engine going, five strides and pop the brush in the water for “B” then 3 to 4 strides to an acute angled skinny house for “C” which was up the bank out of the water. Nick emphasized that is the plan, but riders should expect anything, and you always go for “plan a” unless you feel it isn’t right and then you take the options. Always ride the line and power rather than stride and if you can keep them connected you’ll be fine. From landing over element “C” riders curved right and headed towards fence 10, the “Mitsubishi L200’s” these aren’t difficult but need concentration.

Riders then go back along the lake and must set up a left turn and over the “world Horse Welfare Gates” for fence 11. In Eric Winters report he says, “if they can’t jump a 1.20m vertical at any place on the course than they aren’t a 4* horse”.

Horses and riders then head up the incline past Badminton house towards fence 12 “Formulate! White Oxers” here there are two to chose from, Nick said jumping the one that comes up a bit earlier on the right would offer a better jump as horses can read them.We continued our march along the course to fence 13 the “Stick Pile” this jump in itself is lovely however nick said it is in the wettest part of the course so if riders see a long stride they may not make it out of the ground. On landing the ground gently slopes away down towards fences 14-16 inclusive, the “Outlander PHEV Mound”.