On the May Day Bank Holiday Monday, I travelled down to Gloucestershire to meet up with HorseHage-sponsored amateur event rider, Julia Paterson, who was competing at the Mitusbishi Motors Badminton Grassroots Championship with her horse, ‘Spot of Luck’ (Marvin).
Julia had travelled down from Durham with Marvin – a long journey that took six and a half hours. My task was to spend the next two days photographing the pair to record the whole ‘Badminton’ experience for a client’s website.
and Marvin qualified for the Grassroots competition at Skipton Horse Trials in Yorkshire last season for the BE90 section and were competing against over 80 other entries from all over the UK. It was Julia’s dream to qualify for this event and to be able to compete with Marvin on the hallowed turf of this glorious parkland within the grounds of Badminton House, home of the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort.
Julia was joined by her husband, several friends, their children and their dogs, over the next day or so – it was lovely to be around such a loyal band of supporters and they all mucked in with various tasks.
The weather was extremely changeable and black clouds had loomed above whilst Jane advised Julia on the show jumping course, but by the time we set off towards the cross country fences, we were in glorious sunshine and sun glasses, hoping that this would be the weather for the next day and a half. (Unfortunately it wasn’t, and we were soaked by the time we got back to the lorry!)
The girls spent the rest of Tuesday afternoon preparing – polishing boots, cleaning tack and plaiting Marvin up, whilst I headed over to the trade stand area to drop some POS items off to three of our clients. It was a hive of activity with everyone frantically trying to set up for the busy five days ahead when the main three-day-event started.
Wednesday dawned, wet, rainy and very windy, but Julia’s dressage test went smoothly and with a few hours to go before the show jumping, we all headed over to the trade stands for a spot of retail therapy.
The weather was still blustery when we returned for the show- jumping and Marvin had a couple of fences down, but the smile on Julia’s face said it all, as she could now look forward to her favourite phase – the cross country.
Unfortunately when we went over to the start, there was a 45 minute delay so we had a bit of waiting around to do before the pair were finally galloping out of the start box towards the first fence.
As anyone who has horses knows, it can be a real roller coaster ride, and this competition was no exception. Unfortunately Marvin took a real dislike to Fence 8 – the coffin – and after two refusals, they were eliminated. This was the first time he had ever had a stop on the cross country and Julia must have been so disappointed, but put a very brave face on.
However, both my client and I are thrilled and proud that Julia and Marvin got this far and managed to experience this prestigious event and I returned back to the office on Thursday, happy in the knowledge that both horse and rider were home, safe and sound.
Days like these are one of the real perks of this job and make working in equestrian PR such a varied job.