I haven’t visited Hickstead as a competitor for many years but in my youth I was lucky enough to jump a round in the international arena. I feel privileged to have had this experience – scary as it was. Until you have ridden up the tunnel and felt the ‘buzz’ it’s hard to explain… Hickstead is a very special and magical place.
As guests of Petplan Equine I was lucky enough to re visit for the Longines Royal International Horse Show a couple of weeks ago. As my children are mad keen riders I brought them along for the experience, and the car was buzzing with excitement as we drove into the car park at the Sussex based showground.
We couldn’t have chosen more perfect weather… with glorious sunshine Hickstead’s freshly painted showjumps gleamed and sparkled amid the perfectly manicured grass that makes up the International arena.
Hickstead always offers some great spaces to watch the action, from the main grandstands to ringside where you always get a sense of the scale of fences that form the premier classes. Not for the fainthearted and my oldest son bravely reassured me that he might be jumping there one day (we will wait and see Henry!). Watching ringside or popping down to the warm up area nearby gives you a real sense of the athleticism of these amazing equines. As an eventer, it’s always fascinating to compare and contrast approached to warm up, kit and technique… even with three children in tow there is always time to learn.
Alongside the pro and amateurs show jumping RIHS always hosts a range of championship showing classes. While we were there the miniature ponies went to championship in the main arena followed by the hacks that looked absolutely stunning. Again, it was great to see approaches to warm up and how the teams handled these immaculate looking animals. The site at Hickstead is massive so you could spend more than a day spectating.
However, we were soon off to visit the PetPlan Equine trade stand to see how we faired in their new initiative the ‘Responsible Riders Quiz’. Henry, who is 7, decided to take the test himself… convinced that after one week of Pony Club Camp he would be able to answer all the questions. I was less convinced but in the interests of ‘education’ decided to let him have a go!
Question 1. You bring your horse in from the field and he is walking slowly and looks uncomfortable.
Take him for a ride — he is probably just a bit stiff and will loosen up with exercise
or put him in a stable to rest for the night and check him first thing
or Check his feet and legs for signs of injury and if you’re still concerned call the vet for advice?
I shouldn’t have doubted that some of my constant pony care chat and the training at Pony Club hadn’t sunk in somewhere as Henry was full of correct answers. 14/14 – good work Henry! It was interesting to hear him make educated decisions about what he would do in different situations, although at 7 years old his understanding of what ‘insurance’ is was a little sketchy. As a prize Henry won a great Pet Plan goody bag with some really useful gifts and an insurance discount voucher which I will be using as I have been a Petplan Equine customer for quite a few years now.
The quiz itself is designed to find out how your attitude towards your horse’s health and welfare rates and to help make sure your horse is happy and healthy. Plus, pick up some great advice from Petplan Equine’s expert partners. You can take an online version here:
With the quiz complete it was time for lunch, Champagne in the sun and a spot of celeb spotting while shopping in the massive trade stand area. With all the top retailers to choose from I had to be restrained at one point from buying up the whole of Cavalleria Toskana which sells some of the best junior riding kit I have seen in a long while. Available in the UK only from www.fourseasons-equestrian.co.uk with dedicated men’s, women’s and children’s collections. Cavalleria Toskana features the latest in tech and edgy design but still as functional as you will get.
With the last of our pennies spent on the children’s fun fair we finished out day with an evening in Brighton. Just a stone’s throw from Hickstead and again a wonderful family destination.
A day full of memories, excitement, learning and fun. Massive thanks to Petplan Equine and the team at Hickstead for putting on such an amazing show. I can’t wait to see my brood tackle the famed Derby bank when they are older!
For more information on Petplan Equine visit www.petplanequine.co.uk
This post has been possible thanks to Petplan Equine, but all thoughts are my own.