It’s quite a novelty for us to travel to a horsey event in a car rather than a lorry. We had a lovely outing to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials recently with friends.
We wandered around the cross-country course and watched the first 50 or so riders go round. While we were sitting on the grass by a fence about halfway round, there was a lull in proceedings and I found myself observing the crowds — at knee level.
Having not been for years, I was astonished by the number and variety of dogs. We British love our dogs, and Badminton is the perfect venue to show them off. With so many in attendance you get an idea of which breeds are ‘in’ and which ‘out’. As I write for Horse AND Hound, this seemed like a natural subject for my latest blog. After all, many much smarter people than me were reporting on the horsey side of things…
There was a good showing of ‘old faithfuls’ — Labradors, especially chocolate in shades of milk to plain, Jack Russells, and whippets. But this being Badminton there was a strong international presence. A pair of elegant Hungarian Vizslas, for example, and a good scattering of Ridgebacks. And a sign of the times – every permutation of ‘doodle’ too.
A surprisingly high great dane count indicates this is a breed on the up. One man had three all to himself (pictured above) – presumably, unlike us, he had to come in a horsebox rather than a car to fit them all in.
I was very surprised by the lack of dachshunds, which seem to me to be the must-have dog of the moment. But we were there on Saturday and perhaps they lack the conformation for the demanding cross-country phase. I was assured by a friend that the place was awash with them on the other days. The only one we saw was being trundled round the course in a buggy with a travel rug tucked over his legs, like a granddad in a bathchair on a rare day out.
I did see a fabulous bassett hound, which like a dachshund appeared to lack the ground clearance for anything rougher than a well-manicured lawn. It was proceeding round the course at a speed likely to rack up a cricket score of time penalties.
In canine fashion terms, the spotty bandana seems to be on the way out. There was the occasional touch of tasteful bling – a gleaming white English bull terrier with a fetching pink diamante collar caught my eye. But the new fashion essential is apparently the fleece jacket, in the brightest possible array of neon colours.
I think Badminton is missing a trick – a small ‘collarage’ charge per dog would certainly boost profits, and a dog show run on the side would have massive entries. Kerching!
I have included some photos of my favourite dogs from the day, but I think my career as a canine photographer will be short-lived – it’s too risky. I was sitting on the ground next to a cute brown and white border collie pup (pictured below). When I turned to take his picture and clicked the camera, he lunged right at me. Luckily he was on a short lead, as his expression was completely unreadable. It was impossible to say if he had taken serious offence at being caught by the “pupparazzi” or just wanted to say hi.
Thanks to everyone who let me take a photo of their dog!