It’s been a really tricky year to be an eventer in Britain. The weather, of course, has been nearly impossible — much of the spring season was obliterated thanks to nearly non-stop rain, with many shows forced to abandon outright, and others needing to drop lower-level classes in a bid to try to save their upper-level offerings and give horses sufficient prep for the calendar’s long-format events.
But another major issue, particularly for those of us on a budget — which, let’s face it, is pretty much all of us, thanks to the cost of living crisis — has been abandonment insurance. That used to be provided under the umbrella offering from British Eventing, but now, it’s on events to individually seek out their own policy, and after nearly a full season of payouts, it’s becoming understandably harder to secure the bag for organisers. Riders, for their part, are, more than ever, waiting until the last minute to put in their entries in a bid to protect themselves from losing the cost of their entry — but that, too, throws a spanner in the works, and we’ve seen more and more organisers forced to pull the plug on their events because entries are too low to allow them to cover their own costs. It’s a major catch-22 situation for competitors and organisers alike, and will, no doubt, be one of the biggest topics on the table when the off-season hits and our governing body gets to work on planning for next year — hopefully, a dryer one.
I’m lucky enough to be based at a lovely eventing yard in the south-east of England, which hosted BE affiliated events nearly a decade ago and has since been successfully hosting unaffiliated competitions, hunter trials, and have-a-go style competitions since. They’ve been given an affiliated slot again this year, which will take place on October 14–15, and while we’re all incredibly excited to share our little patch of heaven with everyone again, it’s been an interesting insight for me to see just how much work goes into putting a competition on, particularly when it’s a family-hosted event with a small, committed team behind the scenes. We all know that our ground is super, of course — we’re the only cross-country course that doesn’t close for the winter, and I’ve enjoyed many a chilly January morning frolicking around our fields — but conveying that confidence to an understandably guarded competitor market, which has been stung so much this year, is hard work. I know, though, that Littleton Horse Trials is going to serve up that end-of-season sweetener we’ve all been needing — so if you’re UK-based, don’t miss out. Ballot day is today, and we’ve even got that delicious, fully comprehensive abandonment insurance policy secured to protect your bank account. God knows we all need that.
Events Opening Today: River Glen Fall H.T.,
Tuesday News & Notes from Around the World:
Irish chef d’equipe Sally Corscadden has spoken out after being cleared of rapping allegations in a 21-month investigation process. The investigation began after it was revealed that the trainer had used a lightweight metal rail atop fences, which made a loud noise when hit by a hoof and encouraged a cleaner jump on subsequent efforts — but for Corscadden, the ripple effect of the accusation has led to isolation, an extended professional limbo period, and treatment with a clinical psychologist for PTSD. You can read her thoughts on the situation here.
Great news for newcomers to eventing: the Starter level has been approved as a recognised USEA level for the 2024 season, though for now, there are no guarantees of any Championship routes. Starter, which is set at 70cm or 2’3, has often been offered as an unrecognised level held at recognised events, and is intended to be an accessible entry point into the sport. Over here in the UK, our lowest affiliated level is BE80, which is equivalent to Beginner Novice, and the introduction of lower classes does always tend to start a heated debate on whether we’re ‘dumbing down’ the sport — but it’s important to remember that not every rider dreams of the upper levels, and for those who simply want to have fun in the sport at a level that’s safe and suitable for themselves and their horse, the lower levels are a great boon. Recognised events on either side of the pond are subject to much stricter standards of course-building and medical provisions, so granting access to that kind of guarantee of quality for our Starter riders can only be a positive thing, I think. Here’s all the info you need to know about the new addition.
The British stallion Up With The Lark has died at the age of 23. Now, I might be taking this one quite personally, admittedly, because my own mare is a daughter of ‘Max’ — and every single one of his progeny that I’ve ever met has the same uniquely sweet, try-hard, quirky-in-an-adorable-way personality. I’ve recommended Max to so many mare owners who want to try for a foal with a great brain and that rare mix of talent and rideability; my own darling Boo Boo has jumped round 1.35 classes, evented internationally, and also given riding lessons to a bunch of enthusiastic kiddos, whose faces light up when they find the button for that trot extension, and I’ve met Max babies who’ve won Supreme titles in showing, who’ve crossed the disciplines with success, and who all put on that same puppy-dog face while begging for butt scritches. They’re really super horses, and Max will be missed by mare owners and his connections alike, including event rider Mike Jackson, who competed him to Advanced. Thanks for everything, Max!
Antibiotic resistance is a real issue, both for people and for horses. That’s one of the major reasons why a number of antibiotics were moved to prescription-only access earlier this year, in a bid to stop their overuse and avoid rendering them basically ineffective. Find out more about what veterinarians need owners to know before medicating their horses.
Sponsor Corner: We have a unique Who Jumped It Best for you all the way from Blenheim this week! Instead of judging these horse and rider combinations on the cross country course, we’re taking a look at the field on the final day of competition. Who are you voting for?
Our Blenheim coverage was generously sponsored by Kentucky Performance Products.
How do you prepare for a Training level/BE100 outing? Join vlogger Tina Wallace as she tackles her final schooling sessions, ready for some fun: