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