I was planning to write this blog before Badminton Horse Trials but, with a number of clients exhibiting at the event and lots of exciting things to tell the press about, as normal, my blog got knocked down the priority list! That said, this blog, all about how to survive a horse trials, is now written with a fresh appreciation of the kit you really should pack in your bag to ensure you have the best time possible.
Now, just to be clear, although the title may suggest I’m not a fan of horse trials, it couldn’t be further from the truth. I love going to horse trials with Badminton and Blenheim definitely at the top of my list. They’re quite different to each other, so I’m not saying which I like the most…it wouldn’t be fair (!).
Onto the serious matter of how to survive and thrive at a horse trials…here are my top tips.
1. Get organised. In order to arrive at a reasonable time without stressing yourself out, it’s best to get organised at least the day before. This year I took my dog Jam with me, so in addition to tickets, money, maps and more, I also had to remember her breakfast, her two leads, poo bags and waterproofs in case it rained.
2. Maps. Not just for getting there, but for the show itself. I had a number of clients to see at Badminton, so I printed out a map of the tradestands and marked where I needed to go. This may sound a little too organised, but some of these tradestand villages are HUGE, and if there are some stands you really want to see, it’s worth printing out a map, finding the stand numbers and marking on where you want to go. Honest.
If you’re planning to walk the XC course, especially on a non-XC day, consider printing out a map of here too. I didn’t this year, walked a good way…and realised I’d missed most of the XC course. Not a huge problem, but a little annoying!
3. Drinks. Yes, make sure you take a bottle of water with you/be prepared to buy at the show and drink it! It’s very easy to forget to drink when you’re taking in what’s going on and having fun…but the headache you’ll get and general feeling of being less than 100% that follows isn’t ideal. I’m not saying you should only drink water as there are some fab drinks places around the shows, and this year the lovely Hiho Silver offered their customers tea or coffee on the stand in stunning Doris & Co mugs. Very well received by everyone.
4. Food. Yes, you’re going to have to eat! You can tackle this in a few ways: 1) you can stop at a supermarket and take advantage of a meal deal 2) you can pack a lovely picnic of your favourite things 3) you can make the most of the food stands and tents and sample all the delicious food available. I tend to do a mixture of one and three, just because then, when it’s 10.30 and I’m starving and in the middle of something, I can eat the food I have stashed away…ready to enjoy the food tent later.
5. Comfortable boots. It’ll depend on the weather, obviously, but boots are good…and for god’s sake make sure they’re comfortable. If you’re thinking of wearing heels (it’ll be in a field, come on!), flip flops (seriously?!) or anything similar, THROW THAT IDEA AWAY. YOU’VE LOST YOUR MIND. Even on a warm day, you’ll be dealing with long grass (if you walk the XC) and maybe mud/dirt in the shopping village. And you’ll be deal with other people. When someone in their size 12s treads on your foot, you’ll be pleased you’re not wearing beach wear!
6. Ready for all weathers. I was very, very lucky at this year’s Badminton, but it can often be a mixed bag, If it’s warm, put a lightweight waterproof in your bag and, if it’s cold…make sure you coat has waterproof qualities. Or take a brolly…but be aware of taking people’s eyes out as everyone runs for cover in the shopping village.
7. Car parking. I always take a picture of where I leave my car – obviously including some point I can refer to (not just the car). Having temporarily lost a car in a large car park once before it’s pretty important for me!
8. Backpacks. They might not be the most elegant of bags, but a backpack can be worth its weight in gold. As I said, I took a dog this year, and it was very useful being ‘handsfree’…well, from the bag at least. It also means that you’ll stay balanced, as I’ve been unbalanced with bags before, and it really does make everything ache after a while!
I’m sure I’ve missed some tips, but these are definitely the top ones that come to mind. Obviously the whole point of going to events is to have a good time…and the tips about should help you do this!