Forget leaving the fences up and square halts — keeping your hangers-on happy during a 13-hour show day is the real trick.

  • Some BE100 level events, like Firle Place in East Sussex and Great Tew Horse Trials in Oxfordshire, do their best to offer Badminton-esque entertainments, with fairground rides, terrier racing, bouncy castles and owl displays (no use at all of course if it chucks down)
  • Try to request ultra-early starts so the spouse might actually offer to stay at home with the children on the basis that “you’ll be back by noon”. And well you might be, though living on coffee for the rest of the day just to last until bathtime
  • Trailer users only: once on site, unhitch and send the family off to the nearest zoo/farm park etc you have cunningly located on Google the night before, TAKING CARE to remove tack, jacket, hat etc from the vehicle first
  • Don’t give up. The privilege of parenthood involves enough sacrifices as it is — cocktail hour, social life, mini-breaks, skiing etc. If the children threaten to kybosh competing altogether, threaten to flog them on eBay. And mean it

    For the full article on how to survive the show season, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (28 April, 2011)