The sun was shining as Fellow and Instructor’s Association members met in the BHS box at The Royal International Horse Show on Thursday 28th July. As the F&I’s newest member, I enjoyed meeting those who were there at morning coffee. Some members made themselves comfortable in the box to watch the show jumping action in the main arena whilst others headed off to watch the action in the outside rings or explore the trade stands before lunch.
Following a lovely lunch, with an excellent cheesecake dessert, I was honoured that all of the members present and their guests gathered to watch Lynn Petersen present me with my BHSI certificate. Looking around the room, there were so many welcoming faces and I am so proud to be able to call myself a BHSI and join this prestigious Association. Thank you to those who came over to congratulate me.
The Supreme Hunter Championship caught the attention of some members, who joined the crowds in cheering on the competitors in their gallop! Thoughts were exchanged on who should earn the top accolade, Kirsty from the education department was amongst those to pick Jayne Ross’s horse as the winner. Watching the champion parade with hounds from the Crawley and Horsham Hunt was a superb sight.
Members were privileged to join Shane Breen for a course walk around the Eventers Challenge course. The course was a little different this year – staying within the International Arena and featuring a range of fences varying in technicality. Many were surprised to see Shane walking distances between seemingly unrelated fences – he pointed out that the difference between winning and losing a class might be knowing where you can take 1 stride out. It seemed we were not the only ones interested in a show jumper’s thoughts on the course – whilst studying the road crossing Shane was questioned by longlisted Irish Olympic event rider Joseph Murphy on how to ride the Derby Bank and striding for the Irish bank combination and the Devil’s Dyke! Other highlights of the course walk were multiple appearances of Willberry Wonder Pony (who also rode the course twice) and Ben Hobday being overheard asking (and I paraphrase), ‘How the heck do you ride a fence like this?’ off the Irish Bank!
We crowded onto the balcony, just as the rain made an appearance, to watch the class. A sweepstake meant we all had a serious vested interest in the class! There were plenty of thrills (thankfully just the one spill – Holly Woodhead remounted to leave the ring unhurt), many cheers of encouragement and the odd chastisement for those who chose to take the long route down the bank – of course we would all have taken the direct route if we were riding! The competition was hot right to the last, with Sir Mark Todd the final rider to go, but no-one could beat Ireland’s Elizabeth Power for the title.
The rain cleared just in time for journeys home from a superb day – though I never did find out who won the sweepstake!
Report by Ruth Baxter