Burghley Beginners

I am a bit behind in writing this post – better late than never!  My current location for writing is not my usual cosy spot in the cottage as I am away on business this week and sitting up high in a hotel room over looking Dubai!  Only a slight change of scene!  Any way back to the point of this post.  A couple of weeks ago I was very kindly offered tickets to attend (for the first time ever), the Cross Country day at The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.  The horsey crew and I often attend annual horse events, however we tend to stay a little closer to home! This was a fantastic chance to add to our annual horse events calendar.

Unfortunately due to other commitments on this occasion the crew of around 9 (all ex stable buddies), consisted of only Jill and myself.  Nonetheless Jill and I were long over due a catch up at length, therefore the 2.5 hour drive from West Sussex up to Stamford, a day course walking ensuring we had visited every one of the 30 + jumps and witnessed a horse go over, while eating and chatting followed by the drive home, gave us the perfect catch up opportunity.  Jill is one of my closest friends and for a period of 3 years I was lucky enough to see her every day twice a day when her four legged man, Kernel (all 17.2hh of him) was a resident at the Farm.  It took some adjusting when they moved yards to enjoy off road hacking.  These days we don’t see each other nearly enough, although horses propel you in to new friendship groups they also have a tendency to limit your social life somewhat.

We left Sussex at the crack of dawn only stopping once for a morning coffee, yet we still did not get there in enough time to walk the course before the horses and riders set out galloping through the beautiful parkland and jumping over the massive and testing fences as we had planned to.  Next year we will know to leave earlier still.

Upon leaving the car and walking down hill to where all the excitement was building, we were confronted with the awe inspiring Elizabethan Burghley House and surrounding lake.

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As we were beginners to attend Burghley we used the opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the layout this year so that when we visit again we know all the best spots to watch the action, and simply took the day in our stride (pun intended).

The course is some four miles long, and we walked the entire course (for us this was shorter than one of our dog walks).

We did contemplate taking a couple of our dogs (Jill’s are much better behaved than the Dals), however we knew that ultimately they would have been like ducks out of water in the crowds and would not have enjoyed it at all, Shiva especially as like me she is an introvert and while I can deal with crowds to an extent she can’t. Bunter on the other hand loves to be social however takes things to the extreme (think Marley and Me).  It would have been a catastrophe, Bunter bumping in to everyone wanting to say hello and Shiva getting under everyone’s feet and tripping them up no doubt.  I don’t think we would have been allowed back again or enjoyed the day as much as we did with the dogs in tow as much as we love having them with us.

It was however lovely to see so many other people with their well rounded dogs with good social skills, enjoying the day together,  picnicking by the lake, under trees or strolling through the park or even wandering around the many shops.

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The shopping looked amazing with around 600 exhibitors including many bespoke country tailor brands, rural crafts, furniture and luxury goods.  I unfortunately had to avoid the temptation of so many of my favourite country brands being in one place after a very expensive week with vets bills. Highly unfortunate indeed, I would have otherwise been spending my hard earned cash on the lovely jewellery I discovered on the day by Gemma J Designs or on tweed items most likely from Dubarry or Timothy Foxx, and for the dogs new collars from Holly & Lil.

Neither Jill nor myself had attended a cross country day before always either watching show jumping or our favourite dressage, it was thrilling to be able to get so close to the action and have galloping hooves thunder past as they approached the fences with such power and grace, a true test of horsemanship, courage and endurance of both athletes, for whom I have developed even more of an immense respect for.  I myself like to keep all four hooves firmly on the ground.

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After a day of being amazed by so many talented horse and rider partnerships, we decided to head back over the fields to find the car so that we could get home to tend to our own horses.  The fun never stops!

My top tips to make the most of a day at Burghley on the Cross Country day would be:

  • Arrive early enough to walk the course in order to get up close to the huge intimidating fences, to really appreciate how horse and rider are stretched to their limits
  • Take a picnic and bubbly
  • Find a good spot to perch yourself for the day (also if in a group there will always be someone to man your spot)!
  • Ensure your wallet is full for all the lovely shopping available

Thank you Land Rover Burghley for a fantastic day! See you again next year!

Love for now Emma x

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