Blogathon 21/19: Eventing by the numbers

The sport of Eventing (whether One-Day Eventing, Two-Day Eventing, or the long-form of Three-Day Eventing) has been through a lot of changes over the years.

When the sport’s governing body was the British Horse Society (BHS), the sport was known as Horse Trials. And the rules of the sport and the design and restrictions that governed the shape of the sport were very different to how they are now. BHS Horse Trials was all about jumping expertise. Yes, BHS Horse Trials had the Dressage phase, the Showjumping phase, the Cross-Country phase (and, in the long-form Three-Day Event, also had a Steeplechase phase). But the competition was weighted towards being largely about the jumping.

After (many) years, the sport got a new governing body, the British Horse Trials Association (BHTA). BHTA introduced new rules which altered the shape of the sport, updated the safety measures built into the sport, enhanced the protections for horses and riders, and changed the design-restrictions of the on-track obstacles. The Dressage phase was enhanced and made to have a higher bearing on the overall result. The Showjumping phase was left unchanged, but the Cross-Country phase started to feature less ‘normal’ obstacles; fewer big-spread hedges and walls. Technical and water-obstacles were introduced; arrowhead fences were brought in.

More years passed. Dressage and jumping tests became more difficult and the Dressage phase became ever more influential on the overall scores/results. And new and more imaginative technical jumping obstacles were introduced.

Decades later, and after many more changes in the rules of the sport (at home and abroad), Eventing got a new governing body: British Eventing. And the sport was no longer called Horse Trials.

Where am I going with all of these memories?

I’m going to the venues.

In the 2019 Eventing Calendar there are a grand total of 172 competition opportunities.

I appreciate this sounds like a lot, but a great many of those competition opportunities are not for the amateur ‘own horse and full-time job’ rider.

I’ve been looking at the 2019 Evening Calendar for a different reason; I’ve been looking for the competition venues that are no longer there.

It’s terrific that some landowners are prepared to run two, three, and in some cases, even four Events in the season, but where’s the strategic sense behind that?

Where’s the geographical spread from running Events in different places? Where’s the difference in terrain from running across different types of countryside?

And where’s the longevity in pursuing the strategy of asking landowners to host more than one Event in a season?

I look at the range and breadth of the 2019 British Eventing Calendar and I feel good for the competitors. They have a solidly-run sport which protects the mental and physical welfare of horses and riders.

But I look back at former Calendars and I feel sad that so many great venues are no longer open to the sport.

To me this is a management issue. If one’s local competition venue is XYZ and XYZ runs four Events in a season, that’s terrific. But it’s also dull.

What started as a bit of pre-Christmas idle thinking has expanded into a solid list.

There are seventy-five BHS, BHTA, and BE Event venues missing from the 2019 Calendar – and some of these missing venues ran more than one Event.

To my eyes, this doesn’t look like a healthy trend for the future of a sport in which I (still) feel heavily invested.

The list of missing events is long and I wonder if British Eventing should look to safeguarding the Events on the current Calendar, and devising and deploying a strategy to recognise and build on the diversity of the Events.

It’s a long list. Seventy-five losses:

Arley Hall
Bath & West
Belmont Park
Berrington Hall
Borough Court
Builth Wells
Church Crookham
Dynes Hall
Great Missenden
Great Tew
Harewood Hall
Little Mattingley
Littleton Manor
Lulworth Castle
Milton Keynes
Mount Ballan
Nutwell Court
Peper Harrow
Purston Manor
Shipton Moyne
Somerley Park
Ston Easton
Stowell Park
Tetton Hall
Tythorp Park
Urchinwood Manor
Witton Castle

Video documentary

The reason:
Because of Sammi’s illness, I am looking for a new subject (or possibly two, but we’ll see) for a short documentary film I want to make.

The topic:
Eventing; I want to paint the sport in a more ‘every day person’ light, make it more accessible. Ideally, the subject will be winding up to his/her first Intermediate or * (One Star) level.

How will it work?
The film will run to around 18-20 minutes. It will be structured in such a way as to follow, over a period of time, the passage of time. Day-to-day routine scenes, from schooling to tack-cleaning (and everything else involved), will build a picture of what goes in to getting a partnership to an Event.

The film will close with scenes of the competition day, from loading, arriving, unloading, grooming, tacking up, working in, dressage, show-jumping, cross-country, untacking, wash-down and relaxing afterwards.

In my head, the film will not have any narration. It will will feature a subdued musical backing track, I intend the film to speak for itself and should not need a narrator (though there will be titles on-screen to introduce scene changes).

Is that it?
Well, not quite. Ideally the subject should live within fairly reasonable reach of the OX28 area. And, obviously, I’m not a professional film-maker, so it will be a learning experience, but I have lots of video editing skills, years of audio editing experience and I’m confident I can do it.

An Australian hack

This is the helmetcam footage of the 2012 Sydney CCI Three Star (CCI***) Three Day Event, as shot from the view of Australian eventer Seamus Marwood, as his mare Wild Oats navigates her way around the cross-country section.

In terms of difficulty, a CCI Three Star is one step below the CCI Four Star (the highest degree of difficulty). CCI Four Star events include Badminton, the Olympics and the World Championships.

I love the horse’s attitude, the way she communicates back to the pilot, and the way he communicates back to her when she asks questions.

I love the rider’s independent seat; it is his secure position and balance that make the helmetcam view seem so smooth despite, what anyone can see, are scary-big fences.

I don’t like cross-country track, but this is a personal thing.

Enjoy the ride.

Sorry love, Eventing’s off

I’m a little sad that the authorities have cancelled the 2012 Badminton Horse Trials, that was due to run this weekend.

It is the right decision – if ever there’s doubt – to err on the side of caution.

And let’s face it, we’ve had torrential rain in the last 48 hours. No-one knows how (or even if) the ground will dry out in time.

No-one knows how the ground will stand up to 100,000 spectators, thousands of trade-stands and the competing horses.

Unfortunately the decision means I won’t be able to watch:




Andrew Nicholson






Andrew is, in my world at least, one of the classier riders on the professional eventing circuit.

I guess I’ll have to just crack on with riding Vin instead…

I want this horse!

This is a piece of helmetcam footage from the cross-country phase of a  CIC*** One Day Event.

Not only is it apparent that the horse *loves* his work, he has a fantastic attitude and a big, bold jump.

Those fences are *big*, yet the horse is so scopey he makes it look as though he’s almost stepping over them.

*love* this horse:

Documentary subject? (9/29)

I am looking for a subject to volunteer themselves to take part in a short, fly-on-the-wall type, documentary.

The subject should be a ‘grass-roots’ eventer, an amateur owner/rider.

I am looking to film/edit/produce a 15-minute schooling-to-competition documentary.  I want the film to show a wider audience what it takes for an amateur to get to an ODE.

The film will begin with non-competitive footage and end with a montage of competing at a BE. I want the documentary to show the ‘human’ side of the sport; I intend the film to show eventing to be an approachable sport, which is why I’m aiming for an amateur eventer.

Ideally, the subject should live not too far away from OX28. It is likely that I would need at least three visits to your yard, to capture the necessary background footage. I don’t want to spend hours in the car travelling around the country!

If you are this person, or if you know someone who fits the bill, please drop me a line via the comments box below, and I’ll get back to you to discuss.

I have spoken to the BE press/PR office, they are aware of the project and what I want it to achieve.

I’m not a professional director/producer/film editor, so this would be a little bit untried and experimental, but I do have the technical skills to produce a project like this.

Want to try Eventing, the safe way? (6/29)

It takes approximately 120 volunteers to put on a British Eventing One Day Event.

On the 14th and 15th April 2012, Crown Farm (my yard) will be hosting the Ascott-under-Wychwood (1) BE One Day Event.

If you are looking for something to do, Charlotte, the organiser, is always looking for stewards, car-park attendants, fence-judges, scorers, dressage writers.

If you are interested in having a day out, let me tell you what you’d get for giving your time.

You would get well looked after, you would get frequent free drinks and you would get a free lunch.


Let me know, I’ll pass your details on to the organiser.

More Balls


Last night (28th January 2012) was the 2011/12 Event Riders Association Ball.

The venue was Headley Stud, Newbury(ish).

The physical location was the heavily converted indoor arena.

The great and good of the Eventing world were present.

And me.


The host (Jules Stiller) and the team of organisers seized every single stop that was capable of being pulled out, and pulled them all out to maximum effect.

The setting was absolutely stunning.

The organisation (from the security through to the table service) was amazing.

And the entertainments were 99.95% awesome.

The live band could have been better, but that’s the only slightly negative comment I could make. The trouble is, when there’s a music journalist (me) at the Ball, I’m just going to notice a little detail like that.

The entire evening/night/morning was a stunning tribute to a team of people who put massive amounts of effort in to making the evening work.

And it really did work.

There are a few (discrete) pictures below but as far as a description of what went on, or what was involved, this is all you’re going to get.

I am the soul of discretion.

The usual rules apply re the photos. Click on an image once, let it load, click on it again and you’ll get the full-size picture.

A thorn between two roses


The ice-sculpture in reception


Ahem, my drinks, before the food began to arrive


Two more roses


Nial and Owen





I am already looking forward to the 2012/13 Event Riders Association Ball!

I should get up

*sets the scene*

It is 9am Saturday.

I am propped up in my lovely, lovely bed with lovely, lovely clean bed-linen and my lovely, lovely new 12.5 Tog duvet.

I have tea.

I have cereal.

The iPod docking station is playing lovely, lovely music. Anemo’s ‘Music Box’, at the moment.

And I am thinking, pensively.

There’s much to do today.

I need to get up, shower, shave, teeth, get dressed and pack for a night away.

I am meeting a friend in Newbury for lunch. When we’re done with that she’ll be off to have things done to her. You know, hair, and all that.

I have to check in to a hotel in Newbury (no, not with the friend, you dirty-minded thing).

At about 6pm I need to do more bathroom-related things, then change in to my dinner suit, dress shirt, bow-tie (I hope I can remember how to tie it!) and shiny shoes.

I’m meeting my friend and a bunch of other people for some pre-event drinks, in the hotel reception.

And then we’re all going out to a Ball.

It’s the ‘Event Riders Association’ Ball.

We have a couple of taxis booked to get us there. And to get us back again afterwards.

Before we all turn in to pumpkins.


But before I can do any of those exciting things, there’s the most mundane – yet difficult – obstacle to overcome.

The ‘getting out of bed’.

Bugger me, it’s difficult.

Especially when ones bed is so comfortable. And warm. And cosy. And the music in here is so good. And…


You know.


I don’t actually have to get up


*snuggles back down*

Stunning, talented, fantastic horse for sale

Update: Enjoying a new home, almost instantly.



I haven’t been paid for this. I’m just putting this information in to the market/google for a close friend. I’m also wording this advert myself, but the wording is, of course, 100% verifiable and accurate.

Very, very sadly for sale owing to a relationship breakdown, one of the most-loved, best-mannered, most capable horses on our yard.

Soldier is a total star in every discipline.

In British Dressage he has amassed 45 Dressage points, in Show Jumping he has BSJA cash winnings and in British Eventing, has successfully competed up to and including Novice.

Soldier has also won in all Pony Club and Riding Club events including individuals, teams and National Championships.

Soldier has been in the same home for 9 years, during which he has helped take his current owner/rider from BE Intro to Novice – though she is now competing at Advanced level.

This is a serious, competitive horse, a quality dressage schoolmaster, who is excellently mannered in all respects. He needs to have a competent rider as he is capable of of sussing out a novice rider. Good to Box, Clip, Shoe etc.

Unfortunately, Soldier stands at 15.3hh, and if it wasn’t for his lack of height, I’d have him for myself in a flash.

He’s 15 years old and is bred as a TBxID, Sire: Miley.

Here’s how he looks when he’s working:

Goring Heath BE