Feeling reckless, I took a day or two off work to visit the Burghley Horse Trials, one of the premier contests in Britain. Not for a rest, for it is exhausting – all that socialising, shopping and concentrating. For the horse world is a small world and amongst the thousands of people that attend there are always dozens that you know, chat to, have a coffee and a sandwich with ……
A walk around the cross country course is always exciting: working out how you would approach the jumps, most of which are huge and difficult, talking with the competitors and admiring the thought and work that goes into creating the course. I should say that my riding skills are nowhere good enough (nor my courage level high enough) to compete but my partner has in the past and jumped into the dreaded “leaf pit”. The photograph of it below hardly does justice to the 4ft drop into the pit – the horse takes off just to the right of the guy, then immediately tackles either one of the two smaller jumps and then gallops off down the course. It is quite nerve wracking to watch, especially if it’s your partner doing it! If I was on my horse, Barney, I would be another 7ft higher still – it makes me feel quite ill just thinking about it!
The water jumps are always a popular place so I visit them before the competition starts. People congregate here, not to see the jump carved to look like a duck, but in the hope of seeing the riders fall and get a good ducking!
A crowd of over 140,000 watch the eighty or so horses compete over four days – the guy with the best view is certainly the television cameraman – I always watch most of it on the giant screens that are strategically placed around the grounds. There is always a place, ‘though, where you can get a clear view of the jumps and, if the crowds get too much, a quiet place under the magnificent sweet chesnut avenues.
Burghley House is a magnificent Elizabethan building built – and virtually unaltered – in the sixteenth century and set in hundreds of acres of parkland. With over 80 major rooms, gardens and the park, it is well worth a visit. Although still privately owned (by the same family since being built) it is open to the public throughout the summer months.
Great excitement! She-Dog has met her husband! The potentially lucky lad may ‘marry’ her around Christmas and, with luck, we will become proud parents in the spring of 2010. Burghley is a good place for romance too – watch this space!
Wonderful Post. Were you riding in the event?
Burghley House is wonderful! Oh to be able to tour it!!He-Dog is fantastic!
Thanks Jim & LynnS. My riding skills are no way good enough to compete – I limit myself to riding around the farm at home. That way if I want to jump a fence or a ditch I can but without an audience to see me fall off! My partner, who used to compete at Burghley and elsewhere, is now retired from competition riding (dare I say too old!!).I do get involved with helping at these events which is why I can get right up to the jumps when, generally, you are asked to keep off.Burghley House is so beautiful, I love it. Johnson
Burghley House is truly magnificent, but having just pre-paid my winter heating bill, I doubt I would want something quite so large.:)
Very interesting Johnson! I'd be a coward too but I'd love to watch (and cringe).What an awesome house. Wouldn't that be something to look through? Can't imagine the expense to keep it going though.Great post!
Thanks Sue & Jeannie for the comments. I doubt if I could afford to heat one room!
Johnson, your new son-in-law is quite a handsome lad and I would like to propose a toast to the happy couple. I guess that this will make you a grandfather! (when the time comes).Deborah
Lol! I guess it will, Deborah