With just weeks until the inaugural Horse & Hound Grassroots Eventing Championships we continue to meet the riders taking part and find out their stories…

We are still accepting limited entries for the inaugural Horse & Hound Championships, so if you want to experience everything this event has to offer, hurry and make your entry as soon as possible.

Find out all you need to know about the championships >>

Entries are still open so enter now >>

In the run up to the competition we take a look at the stories of the entrants who can’t wait for the event in our ‘championship contenders’ series.

Meet Hannah Williamson and Opal

Name: Hannah Williamson
Horse’s name: Alashanti (Opal)
Class entered: 90cm

Why you have decided to enter the Championships?
I have always loved the idea of giving a three-day event a go. I wanted to enter one a couple of years ago, but we were having problems with our cross-country so we just weren’t ready. Since then there has been a lack of opportunity to find unaffiliated three-day events, so when I saw the Horse & Hound Championships (and now that we have some good results under our belt) I knew the timing is right for us both to give it a try.

What you are most looking forward about the Championships?
Although I am there to compete and try and do well with Opal (and hopefully win some of the amazing prizes), I am actually really looking forward to the social side of the event. Meeting new riders and having a good time with friends, who are also competing, is going to be a great experience.

How have you been preparing?
I have never prepared so much for a competition in my life! We had a massive confidence knock in April after a fall so I made sure that I booked plenty of lessons both on the flat and showjumping to get my confidence back and ensure we are working well as a team. I have also really focused on not just getting Opal as fit as she can be, but also myself. With the cross-country course being that bit longer I don’t want Opal crossing the line without me because I’ve collapsed half way round!

How have you altered your training specifically for this event?
I have introduced us both to interval training. We’ve never focused on our fitness too much before, as she is genuinely a fit horse. With the ground being so hard at the moment it has limited us to what we can do so we’ve been doing a lot of trot work as well. I have also increased the length of time I am riding her in an evening. I want to be able to get to Keysoe and say I did everything I possibly could have to get us ready to compete!

Any top training tips?
Research. Sounds odd as I’m supposed to be giving the tip but I’ve been looking up a lot of ways to get a horse fitter and asking discussion pages for people’s personal opinions. I’ve gained some great tips from this and am implementing them into our training. Any areas you feel you need to work on and aren’t sure how, just ask the question!

Any tips to aid recover so you are ready for the final day?
A lot of horses can come out stiff on the final day and my horse is probably going to be one of them. In order to avoid this I’m going to make sure I get her out for a walk on Sunday evening and early Monday morning. She always needs a good warm up at any show to loosen up so I will be doing this on the final day to ensure she is as ready to go as she was on the first day. I will also make sure she gets her electrolytes on Sunday after the cross-country!

What’s your morning routine on a show day?
My routine is quite simple on show day. I get up at the crack of dawn have some Marmite on toast and head up to the stables. I plait Opal when I get there as she can’t be plaited the night before. I then pack up the trailer, do a quick checklist of everything and away we go! I seem to be late for everything in life, but for a horse show I will be about 3 hours early… Oops!

What is your must-have stay away show item?
This will actually be our first stay away show so I’m going to say for now it has to be warm clothes and blankets to sleep in and lots of food!

Do you have a secret weapon?
My mum and best show buddy Terri. My mum is the best groom you could ask for at a show. Although she is a nervous wreck when I go cross-country, she gives me the motivation to complete the course and get that overwhelming feeling when you clear the last fence. Terri is my go-to girl at shows. She provides me with everything I need including the main item, chocolate! We really encourage each other to do well and often train together, so it’s great to watch each other put all that hard work into action and hopefully do well from it!

Tell us a fun fact about your horse?
More just a fact rather than a fun fact, but other than being the greediest mare I know (she takes after her owner), she is just the gentlest horse I have ever come across. She’s got such a lady-like nature to her and she wouldn’t hurt a fly.

The Horse & Hound Grassroots Eventing Championships is being held at Keysoe (27 – 29 May) and offers riders the chance to take part in a three-day event with their horse. This unaffiliated event has classes from 70cm – 100cm. We can still accommodate a few late entries, so ensure that you don’t miss out by entering today.