Hickstead Showground is right on my doorstep, so it seems only right that I get there for at least one of the events they hold throughout the year.
One of the things I love about Hickstead is the variety of disciplines and horses. From show jumping to dressage, showing to driving, there is always plenty to see across their vast showgrounds in Sussex.
When I was younger, I dragged Mum and Dad along to watch the Derby Day a few times. Although, when I say I ‘dragged’ them along, I’m not sure thats quite true.
Both being from horsey backgrounds, I’m sure they enjoyed dipping their toes back into the horsey scene and reminiscing on the days they managed to qualify for Hickstead on their own ponies.
Ordinarily we’d spend the majority of our time sat in the stands at the main arena, to watch the excitement of the show jumping. The atmosphere is always so electric at the International Arena, it’s mostly silent until each rider finishes the course, when there is then an eruption of cheers.
As there always seems to be at Hickstead, there were showers throughout the day on Saturday, it was very much ‘rain mac on / rain mac off’ all day.
But on Sunday, the sun came out and it was lovely to pop along and watch some of the showing classes, which I have to admit, I wouldn’t usually have had the chance to watch.
There was such a variety of horses and ponies there, from little welsh A’s to Maxi Cobs and all were immaculately turned out. There wasn’t a spec of dust on them or a hair out of place.
Before I went over to watch the George Cup Show Jumping on Sunday afternoon, I made a quick pit stop for lunch – which by the way was incredible for a show day snack.
I tucked into vegetable paella – and in fact, it was so good I had it for lunch both days. Far better than your normal greasy burger (although that’s certainly not to be under rated)!
The show jumping was as exciting as you’d expect it to be. A lot of the horse and rider combinations made it look super easy. There were some difficult aspects and I think the water jump was a little testing at times.
I stood over by the entrance to the main arena for a while, watching the horses and riders waiting to enter the main arena and come out again, at the end of their round.
It’s a very interesting place to be.
You get a small glimpse of the team behind the riders. Their grooms walking with them to the main arena (I’d love to know what their saying to one another), and there waiting for them when they finish. It really shows a vert small part of a big support network behind these riders.
Whilst standing here I got to see a mix of happiness, excitement, sometimes disappointment but almost always, a pat and a fuss for the horse that tried their hearts out. It’s a very different atmosphere to that in the main arena, I’m not sure I can quite pin point what it is but it’s so interesting to watch.
David Will of Germany won the King George V Gold Cup on Sunday on Never Walk Alone, despite this not being the original horse he’d entered! And just before this, Ben Maher’s horse, Triple X, had his official retirement ceremony – which couldn’t have been at a more apt venue I don’t think.
Amongst all of the horsey goings on, there was a #10fortim charity relay run around the Longines International Arena at the showground, raising money in memory of Tim Stockdale, for the Tim Stockdale Foundation. In total they raised a huge £51,000 for the charity.
Of course, along side a jam packed day of watching the horses I managed to just about squeeze in some time for shopping…
Honest Riders had a new product launching at Hickstead, their riding leggings and I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pair. But you’ll just have to wait and see my up coming blog post for a full update.
As always, it was lovely to catch up with Zoe and have a look round their perfectly laid out stand – I also have my eye on the new olive jumper, which will be perfect for the coming season…
I also spent some time on the Finer Equine stand with Sarah, looking at their beautifully crafted luxury luggage range.
With the launch of their ride on exercise sheet at the RWHS it’s still a very ‘new to the market’ product and I’m so excited for whats to come next – they may only be in their first year but they have hit the ground running and there’s certainly more to come in the near future.
I had such a lovely weekend at Hickstead, as always it was a well organised show with plenty to offer and I can’t wait to go back next year.