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Beth Collier

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Why I Support British Eventing, Part II: Beth Goes to Burghley!

Read Part I here

Photo by Beth Collier.

Previous readers will recall I joined the British Event Horse Owner’s Association (EHOA) in 2017 so I could join their Zip Travel group trip to the European Eventing Championship in southwest Poland. In 2018 I joined the EHOA group trip to the WEG in North Carolina. This year Zip Travel organized trip to the European Eventing Championship in Luhmühlen, Germany. I just couldn’t make it work with my schedule, but I did meet up again with EHOA members at the EHOA tent at the Burghley Horse Trials in Stamford, England (about two hours north of London). I was still really looking forward to Burghley as I’ve attended this event quite a few times since 2004.

EHOA Meeting. Photo by Beth Collier.

For many years I’ve been a writer/photographer for the Maryland monthly equestrian magazine The Equiery. Unfortunately, this year my Burghley press credential request disappeared into the Dark Web. When I e-mailed Carole to ask what happened to my press pass, she said there was no record of my application. This was an “OH, CRAP” moment because Savannah “Woodge” Fulton, from Full Moon Farm in Finksburg, Maryland, was going to be competing. Now I would have to purchase a ticket at the gate. I did actually personally appeal to Carole in the media tent, but she said they had so many applications this year that 30% were turned down.

But, I had another “OH, CRAP” moment when the British Airways pilots announced a possible strike on the day I was going to fly back from London Heathrow to BWI Baltimore. (There is a Facebook page called “British Airways Complaints.”) Thank goodness I didn’t need to even attempt to call BA Customer Service. I did receive a full refund fairly quickly. I re-booked on Air Canada for $800+ extra. I was scheduled to fly from BWI to Toronto to Montreal to London. The first flight was delayed because of restricted air space “due to an air show in Toronto.” About 15 passengers were concerned about their further connecting flights. We arrived in Toronto almost two hours late and still had to go through customs. I filled out the form which includes the question, “How many days will you be in Canada?” Answer: ZERO.

Food at Burghley. Photo by Beth Collier.

So, everyone misses their connecting flights and we all appear at the Air Canada Customer Service counter which has exactly two employees and 15 stressed out passengers. Those flying beyond London (or trying to get to Calgary) took some time to re-book. It turns out there was a flight from Toronto to London late that night so I was only about an hour late arriving in London. While waiting for my flight, I did send out a text, “I’m still in Canada.” There was just one couple who was struggling to re-book because they had arranged a river cruise, and you know that boat is not going to wait for you.

I arrived in Stamford, England, a few days ahead of the Burghley Horse Trials so I could visit Burghley house and gardens. For the horse trials, I joined the brand new glamping accommodation in the old walled garden on the northeast end of the Burghley property. (Take a right after the golf course). Everything was well done by a company that specializes in glamping at large outdoor events. A breakfast buffet was included and it was excellent every day. Of course, they also had a full bar and restaurant. Golf carts (“buggies”) were available all day for transportation to the event. (Burghley is a true estate including 2,000+ acres and lots of Stamford town properties.)

Glamping tent. Photo by Beth Collier.

A walled garden at Burghley. Photo by Beth Collier.

Captain Jack and Woodge Fulton received a grant to go abroad and compete, based solely on merit. From the U.S. Eventing website: “The grants from the Wilton Fair Fund will be decided by the USEA Foundation with recommendations from the United States Equestrian Emerging Athletes Group.”

They had an amazing European adventure: March: Luhmühlen, Germany CCI3*; April: Strzegom, Poland CCI4*; May: Badminton, England CCI5*; June: Strzegom, Poland CCIO4*; August: Kronenberg, Netherlands CCI4* (winning 500 Euros = $550) and September: Burghley CCI5*. On Burghley 5* cross-country Captain Jack and Woodge had a big twisting hiccup at jump 20. I think one of her ancestors must have been a Pony Express rider from 1860 (“young, skinny, wiry fellows”) — both walked away OK. Like the t-shirt says, “If you’ve never fallen off, you haven’t ridden very much.”

Woodge Fulton and Captain Jack. Photo by Beth Collier.

In May I attended the Badminton Horse Trials as press. Every weekend Shutterfly e-mails coupons for FREE STUFF. So, starting in May, I used my photos of Captain Jack for free Shutterfly mementos (you just pay sales tax and postage). I mailed a big box to Full Moon Farm in August. This includes several bags, placemats, notebooks, folders, stickers, coasters, luggage tag, metal ornament, shot glass, key chain and several plaques. I think a plaque is a great thank-you gift to those that made this all possible (including the U.S. Eventing Foundation).
AND — I am now the proud owner of a Full Moon Farm hat!

Why I Support British Eventing (Because I Decided to Go to Poland)

Beth Collier of Lusby, Maryland, (pictured in the horseshoe on the far left) has enjoyed myriad international equestrian adventures with Zip Travel. Photo by Beth Collier.

I like all things British – their television, food, architecture, history, etc. In 2004, I attended the Burghley Horse Trials in Stamford – about two hours north of London. What an amazing event. With over 600 vendors, some people just go for the shopping. I always have to thank the monthly Maryland magazine “The Equiery” for allowing me to go as their photographer.

I’ve been to quite a few British events – Badminton, Blenheim, Barbury Castle and Blair Castle and Floors Castle in Scotland. In 2011 I attended the Olympic Test Event in Greenwich. It occurred to me maybe I would enjoy branching out a little to another country.

In 2016, I checked the FEI table of games, championships, and finals which shows the bidders for international championships and the winners of the bid. I noticed the 2017 European Eventing Championships would be held in southwest Poland at the Strzegom Equestrian Center. I was looking for a group trip so completed a Google search and the (British) Event Horse Owner’s Association (EHOA) popped up with a group trip organized by Zip Travel – Ian Dennis. But, in order to join the trip, you had to join EHOA and provide your membership number to Zip Travel. I e-mailed EHOA membership and they provided me with the bank information to complete an international electronic bank transfer.

I printed it all out and went to my local bank. And the bank teller said, “Are you sure this isn’t an internet scam?” And I replied, “No, this is real.” Now, I have to admit I don’t actually own an event horse (in any country) but this is a minor detail. The electronic payment was sent and I e-mailed Zip Travel to make arrangements for my trip.

I arrived in England a few days early to adjust to the time change. Through Landmark Trust I arranged to stay in the Georgian House (built in 1719) at Hampton Court Palace (built 1515) southwest of London. Landmark Trust advertises “holidays in historic buildings.” Zip Travel arranged for a driver to pick me up the day the group was flying from London Stansted Airport to Poland. (I don’t drive in the U.K. not ever!) The driver called me ahead of time and said, “What’s this address? Do you mean Hampton Court Palace ROAD?” And I said, “Just pull up to the main gate of Hampton Court Palace.” Hampton Court Palace has 24/7 security so I made sure they knew my schedule.

For anyone who has ever gone to London Stansted Airport during the peak of summer travel time, you know it’s just jam packed. I just don’t think it’s anyone’s favorite airport.

The European Championship event in Poland was very well organized. All the EHOA members had pre-paid for the hospitality tent, so we had a big buffet every day. This included the Polish smalec (pork lard) – you’re supposed to put it on bread with a Polish pickle.

Ingrid Klimke, individual gold medalist at the 2017 FEI European Eventing Championships. Photo by Beth Collier.

The Polish menu in the hospitality tent. Photo by Beth Collier.

The only glitch with the whole trip was our group drank up all the hotel gin, so we had an interesting side trip to a local grocery/liquor store. After flying back to the U.K., I went to Woodstock to spend two days exploring Blenheim Palace. (Yes, I like all palace type places.)

Ksiaz Castle in Poland. Photo by Beth Collier.

The Georgian House in England. Photo by Beth Collier.

When the World Equestrian Games was awarded to the Tryon International Equestrian Center, North Carolina, yes, you guessed correctly, I arranged to go with EHOA. Yet another well organized, successful trip. And we did a side trip to the Biltmore Estate which included a wine tasting.

The 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon. Photo courtesy of Beth Collier.

In May 2019 I attended the Badminton Horse Trials and for the first time Zip Travel was a vendor promoting their upcoming trips. They have a big banner with a group photo from Poland — see photo above.

In 2020, Zip Travel is organizing a trip to the Tokyo Olympics, but you are not required to join EHOA. Ian Dennis – Zip Travel is not an equestrian himself so since 2018 the “expert competition analysis and discussion” has been provided by Julia Fairbank who has competed up to the CCI3* level.