It can be hard to feel inspired at this time of year, when you are perpetually scraping mud (or ice) off your horse. If you’re looking for something to aim for this season to keep you motivated, how about taking part in one of these equestrian championships, which all culminate in a prestigious final?
The eventing season doesn’t get underway until March, but there’s no need to start box walking from boredom in the meantime.
British Eventing has a number of series designed to keep you busy during the ‘off-season’. The well-established Jumping & Style and Jump Training series take place each January and February, with the finals being held at Hartpury College on 18 & 19 February.
Jumping & Style (JAS), as the name suggests, puts a lot of emphasis on style and technique as you navigate round a course of showjumps and cross-country fences. Heights go from 90cm up to Novice level (1.15m).
Jump Training is a brilliant introduction for those who are new to the sport – you’ll receive a guided course walk and warm-up session with BE accredited coaches, before your competition round, which is judged on style, rider effectiveness and the horse’s technique and paces.
The BE Arena Eventing series is a newer format of competition, run at BE80-BE100 level from January to March. It’s more akin to eventing, as the aim of the game is to complete a course of showjumps and cross-country fences clear within the time. It includes a final joker fence, set 10cm higher than the rest of the course.
Dreaming of Badminton
The ultimate goal for any eventer is Badminton. Don’t worry, we’re not expecting you to pop round a four-star (unless you really want to). Many grassroots event riders competing at BE90 and BE100 level have the chance to compete on the hallowed turf of Badminton Park by qualifying for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup.
To qualify, you need to first finish in the top 10% in a BE90 or BE90Open, or top 20% at BE100 or BE100Open affiliated event from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017, which will qualify you for a Regional Final.
Regional Finals are held between August and October each season, and the top 20% of these qualify for the Mitsubishi Motors Cup. It’s definitely worth a go – not only do you get to ride at Badminton, you also have the chance of winning a Mitsubishi car for a year if you win the final!
Lots for ex-racers
Ex-racehorse owners are spoiled when it comes to series, qualifiers and finals to aim for. There is something for everyone, no matter what discipline you compete in. Head to the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) website to find out what’s on offer.
If you’re keen to get your ex-racer out in the showring, the RoR has a number of different options depending on your experience and preferences. If jumping is your thing, have a go at the RoR/TBA Retrained Racehorse Challenge. It’s basically a working hunter class, with a number of qualifiers around the country and the final held at the rather posh Royal Windsor Horse Show.
The RoR/Tattersalls Show Series is part of the Elite Performance Awards, and attracts entries from some of the country’s leading show producers. The final is held at the Hickstead Derby Meeting in June, with the top six from both the Flat and National Hunt sections going through to the final judging in the prestigious International Arena.
There are loads of other options, including novice show classes and those for amateur riders, or people who’d prefer to show their horses in hand.
Wishing on a Star
If you’ve ever dreamed of riding at the Horse of the Year Show, then the SEIB Search for a Star series could make your dream come true.
This year, a new Working Show Horse/Pony section replaces the former Working Hunter, Riding Club Horse and Show/Show Hunter Pony classes, while the existing Hunter, Riding Horse/Hack and Cob classes are back for another year. Qualifiers are held around the country from April to September.
SEIB also sponsors the Racehorse to Riding Horse series, which also culminates in a championship at HOYS.
Going on a Quest
British Dressage first introduced Team Quest back in 2014. The competition allows riders of all ages and levels to compete together as a team of three or four. Rules are more relaxed than in affiliated dressage and riders are encouraged to don coloured team shirts instead of show jackets.
Since then, a version for individuals called My Quest has been launched, combining with Team Quest to make Quest Club. The series got underway on 14 January and continues until the end of August. Riders qualify for the regional finals in September and October, and then the top three teams and four individuals in each section qualify for the finals at Bury Farm (27-29 October).
Blazing a Trail
The popular Trailblazers series is a great option if you like competing in dressage, showjumping, combined training or showing classes. You don’t have to be affiliated to take part, and should treat the qualifiers as any other unaffiliated competition.
At a first round competition, riders can qualify by getting a score of 58% or more in the dressage or jumping double clear in the showjumping – or by being placed in the top five in the combined training. You can then choose to compete in a second round qualifier, with fixtures held between March and May each year. Showing riders simply need to finish in the top four at any qualifier to make it through to the final.
The SEIB Trailblazers Championships are held at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire (28 July – 5 August).