After a good battering from the ‘Beast From The East’ last week, most frozen-fingered horse owners have been left dreaming of warmer climes.
Well, the showjumpers were one step ahead of the game this winter and while the rest of us slithered across icy yards and trudged through snow drifts, the riders on the MET Tour in Oliva Nova, Spain, were enjoying some downtime on the beach.
Top riders such as 2012 Olympic gold medallist Scott Brash, Italy’s leading rider Alberto Zorzi, Qatar’s Sheikh Ali Al Thani and Olympic champion Steve Guerdat have all been regular competitors during this series of international showjumping competitions and there’s nothing these hard-working competitors and their horses like more than a daily splash, even a swim, in the sea. The beach is just a 500m ride from the main competition complex where Great Britain’s leading rider Scott has been a big winner, teaming up with his exciting prospect Hello Mr President to produce the winning performance in a hat-trick of grands prix.
But it’s not just the glorious beach that’s a huge selling point to riders at The Oliva Nova Equestrian Centre. The venue hosts daily classes across eight sand arenas with a grand prix grass ring and stabling for 1,000 horses — as well as the glitzy VIP area, on-site farrier and veterinary clinic, restaurants and shopping village. And let’s not forget the (almost guaranteed) wall-to-wall sunshine.
“It has been fantastic and I think the team here tries really hard,” says Scott Brash.
“Everything is really well organized; you can have a lot of horses jumping, everything is on time and the rings are great. It is fantastic to jump in a grass ring and get the horses ready before the outdoor season starts.”
With the Tour currently enjoying a short break, we look forward to the third series kicks off again next week and you can catch up with all the action in Horse & Hound every Thursday