Sunday, 4 June 2017

Belsay Horse Trials


This weekend, we headed along to one of our local horse trial events, Belsay horse trials in Northumberland. Whether to spectate, or back when we competed, it is our favourite horse trials to go to in the county. It has always been super organised and tries hard to have something for everyone making it a great family day out.

The horse trials are set in the grounds of the Belsay estate, boasting a spectacular yet quaint castle, hall and beautiful gardens, and is just located north-west of Newcastle on the A696. It has good road access whether your in a big, bulky horsebox or heading along in your car.

Belsay horse trials run British Eventing classes from BE90 up to Intermediate, and this year included U18's, U21's as well as a Novice Region Final.

So why do we love this local event so much?

The setting alone is beautiful! Just watch this short drone video...

Showjumping arena

As a competitor, I headed to Belsay in 2013 - its first year running - and with not such nice weather (very British early June weather!) the showjumping arena became deep, slippy and a talent in itself to navigate around the course, keeping out of everyone else's tracks!

2014 saw the arena relocated and while much improved, wasn't quite the final resolution. But in 2015, the organising committee took the decision, following a very wet winter, to make significant investment and changes to assist with the drainage of the arena.

The project took place in two phases to help improve the existing draining and work with the turf to create an optimal surface for the showjumping phase of the event.

Six weeks prior to the 2016 event, a selection of local riders, including top Scottish rider Emily Galbraith & previous GB young rider Jaime Atkinson, took part in a test event and gave great feedback on the freshly installed arena. 

As, we're not out & about doing BE just yet, we haven't been able to experience what is reported as a fantastic arena, but we look forward to one day.

Jay Ryder jumping clear in the Open Intermediate

Cross country

The course changed slightly this year. Previously, it headed behind the castle, looping back around and in front, making for great photos. There was still opportunity for snapping a fence in front of the castle - the headline sponsor Barbour fence sat proudly with the castle as the backdrop.



I had the exclusive and privileged opportunity for a quick Q&A with Belsay horse trials course designer, Adrian Ditcham!

Tell me a little bit about why & how you started course designing? What is it that you love about it?

I started designing at a small level some 25 years ago whilst building fences for a Pony Club in West Sussex. I then embarked on a professional course building career, and having been an event rider for many years, started to do some design and then it all grew from there.

What exactly goes into building a good cross country track? How do you determine what questions go into what level, and why do you pick those questions?

Good cross country tracks are about educating horse and riders, and setting a cross country test and standard that the riders have to achieve. Questions should be varied in the riding skills that we ask of horse and rider and be progressive. Fences and fence profiles should fit into the landscape in which you are designing.

You're a platinum registered course design with British Eventing - what does that mean? I'm sure there's a lot of hard work gone into achieving it!

I am a Platinum Listed Builder and A list Designer, which has come from building and designing in the sport for 25 years and some lucky breaks!!

Apart from Belsay, what's been the course that you've been most proud to design? And/or, what's been your biggest achievement while designing courses?

I have designed many courses over the years, and although only my second year at Belsay, I am proud of the developments and changes we are making. Each course for me carries its own achievements from grass roots course at the lower levels to the larger courses at Advanced and International level, it would be hard to single out anything but Wellington in Hampshire is a firm favourite for me. My involvement as lead builder at London 2012 was a huge achievement and also allowed me to have valued input into the design.

Briefly, talk us through some of the course at Belsay this year - what should we be looking out for?

The course is mainly the same as last year, with many route changes that we implemented last year. We have had a redesign at the water this time and plans to change the direction of flow either in 2018 or 2019.

A family fun day out in Northumberland

Just a week after the Northumberland county show, Belsay horse trials is another great weekend out for any family.

Enjoying a break in the sun, watching the water complex

Taking your four legged friends (dogs, not horses!) around the course to watch competitors ride through, is enjoyable in itself, as well as watching an afternoon of showjumping in the main arena. 

But that's not all it offers.

There are 20 or so trade stands, mostly horse related but some also country lifestyle brands, as well as charities & non-retail units. There's also a selection of food and drink vendors - from my much loved Pimm's stand to hot donuts & coffee stands. There also a delicious ice cream stand!




We were slightly disappointed not to see our favourite pizza stand, Streetzzeria... I'm sure we'll see them again soon as another event in the area.

If you're going with children, there are two giant inflatable activities as well as a climbing wall. and for anyone with dogs, there's a have-a-go dog agility. I've wanted to have a go at this with Harry every time I've seen it, so we gave it a shot!

It was a lot of fun, although Harry was permanently distracted by another dog's treats!! The bendy weaving bars weren't really our thing, but Harry loved jumping over the jumps, through the hoop and going through the tunnel! ❤️


The bendy bars weren't Harry's best part of dog agility!

If you'd like to find out more about Belsay horse trials, you can take a look at their website - 2018's dates should be 2nd - 3rd June, so save the date! & don't forget to follow them on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

You can also see the full results & live scores can be seen on BDWP, as well as being published on the British Eventing website after the weekend.

The Belsay team were certainly pleased with how the event ran over the weekend!



2 comments:

  1. I'm not a horsey (or any animal person really) but it looks like great fun for everyone. I've seen a few mums take their kids from Gosforth on facebook. Looked to be having a bril time

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    1. It's really tries to cater for all the family. Of course, the main attraction is the horsey bit, but there's fun & games to keep the kids entertained & a bar for the mums and dads too! Always made better by a bit of sunshine too!

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