“We were relatively lucky with the weather as it could have been a lot worse,” concluded Rebecca Harvie organiser of the extended Munstead Horse Trials, which ran two days and included a BE80(T) track for the first time.
“We thought the wind on Saturday was bad but Sunday really made us use our imaginations to keep the show jumps in place,” said Rebecca. The event located just outside of Godalming was able to run where others couldn’t.
“We had an amazing amount of entries and even though we added the extra level we weren’t prepared for the overwhelming support we received from local riders. We aim to educate horses with a few questions on the tracks at all levels but there is a good opportunity to really kick on and blow the cobwebs away as the cross country follows the edges of two big fields,” said Rebecca.
The new BE80(T) track was tested on the first day of competition with three sections worth of combinations. The red rosette in BE80(T) section e was taken home by Jessica Stephens riding her own eleven-year-old mare, Zilona.
“She is very consistent and was happy to be out cross country again. Her forte is show jumping though and she never rubs a pole. I’ve had her for over two years now so I know her quite well and would like to aim for a novice at the end of this season,” said 17-year-old Jessica.
Jessica is studying three A levels and also rides in a mounted games team.
“I also compete my 13hh mounted games pony for the Dorset MGA that’s great fun and a lot different to eventing,” said Jessica.
London-based Felicity Gentle also took home a red ribbon after finishing ahead of the pack in BE80(T) section d.
“I started riding her in January this year. She’s the perfect horse for me really, small and bouncy and gives me all the confidence in the world. I would love to get her to the Badminton grassroots championships next year,” said Felicity.
The popular Surrey venue was action packed for two days of competition which saw six BE90 sections run across two days.
Elaine Wilson took top honours in BE90 section b riding her own Ebabelou to finish on their dressage score of 28.8.
“I’m nearly 60 years old so I’m quite experienced and I teach a lot here with the pony club so I know the course fairly well but didn’t expect to win on our first outing of the season,” said Elaine.
The Liphook-based rider has ridden since she was a teenager although did take a 33 year gap to raise two children who both caught the eventing bug.
“We’re a very horsey family so I’m not surprised they event really. It’s such a buzz and while I’m confident to continue I might as well, I’ll not go higher than novice level though,” said Elaine.
Full time rider Caroline Hawkins took two sets of silverware home after winning BE90 section a on Ballycahane Lad and piloting Shannondale Sparky to the top spot in the BE90 open section c.
“What a great way to start he season!” Said Caroline who runs a yard in Oxford where she stables up to 25 horses from all disiciplinrz.
“I’m really impressed with Munstead, the ground was absolutely superb and I did wonder if especially the Sunday would be able to run because the weather was horrendous when we were driving there but hyde organising team pulled out all the stops. The show jumping was on a hill but it didn’t get sticky or slippy at all,” said Caroline.
There were no serious accidents to report although organiser Rebecca Harvie did witness a slightly heart stopping moment when eventual winners of BE80(T) section f Claire Lewis and Perriland Leonardo were cantering into a cross country fence as one of the tree decorations blew right across their path.
“We all held our breath but Claire just took a small half halt and let it blow pass her before carrying on – only a professional could remain that cool and calm and still get the job done,” said Rebecca.
The event will run similarly in the autumn with minor changes to all three tracks.