11 things you absolutely must do if you’re going to Burghley Horse Trials

  • If you’re lucky enough to be heading to the Defender Burghley Horse Trials this week (31 August–3 September 2023) and perhaps haven’t visited before or have forgotten what’s on offer, here is our complete guide to what you really need to check out while you’re there.

    Walk the cross-country course

    Make sure that, no matter which day you’re visiting Burghley, you take a walk around the iconic five-star Burghley cross-country course – until you’ve seen those fences in the flesh, you don’t get a true appreciation of how enormous they are! Just make sure you stay behind the roped-off areas and don’t walk up to the fences to protect the incredibly hard work done by the Burghley team to ensure the best ground for the five-star horses. Alternatively, you can join a pre-organised cross-country course walk, where experts explain to you fence-by-fence how each obstacle should be ridden, and can provide fascinating insight. Keep an eye on social media channels and equestrian websites to catch a space on a pre-organised course walk.

    Check out the Burghley Young Event Horse final

    Open to four- and five-year-old horses, the aim of this series is to encourage breeders and trainers to produce and present the type of young horse that has the potential to make a world-class three-day event horse in the future. The judges look for an athletic, loose-moving horse with a promising jumping technique and attitude which, with correct training and production, will develop physically and mentally into an elite three-day event horse. The winner is the horse with the highest overall marks from four sections: dressage, jumping, suitability and type, and potential to gallop– and this year’s combinations will have some notable new judges to impress.

    Visit some (many) of the 500+ tradestands

    Well, it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it? Burghley’s vast shopping village is one of the many highlights of the event, attracting a huge collection of many well-known brands. From equestrian fashion to country lifestyle brands, there is plenty to choose from, and there will be an additional new shopping and drinks area for 2023 – Lime Avenue will provide you with a garden setting within which you can shop and quaff. The opening hours of the shopping village are:

    Thursday – Saturday: 9am–5.30pm
    Sunday: 9am–5pm

    Oh, and don’t forget to have a walk around the food stalls too

    There will be a wide selection of food-based tradestands for you to wander around and sample their wares – from delicious smoked fish to a range of wines, there is something for everyone.

    Get top tips from some of the world’s best trainers

    During the dressage lunch break on Thursday, Yogi Breisner, who is former world class performance manager to the British eventing team, will provide a demonstration in the main arena on how to improve your cross-country performance without hiring a course. Then, after the completion of the dressage action on Thursday, Richard Waygood, who is the performance manager and technical director for the British eventing team, will provide a demonstration about securing the right platform for cross-country success.

    Learn from the dressage master Carl Hester

    Six-time Olympian, Carl Hester, will be in the main arena on Friday during the dressage lunch break to give a dressage masterclass. Carl will guide the audience through what it takes to get a horse to grand prix level, featuring a superstar surprise equine guest. So make sure you don’t miss out.

    Watch event riders try side-saddle

    Top showing rider and producer Katie Jerram-Hunnable will help some event riders give side-saddle a go after the dressage has finished on Friday afternoon, which is certainly something you won’t want to miss.

    The Shetland Pony Grand National

    This brilliant spectacle will take place on Saturday at 9.30am in the main arena, prior to the cross-country action getting underway at 11am. Make sure you give them all a good cheer!

    Support Burghley’s official charity

    This year Burghley will be supporting Horatio’s Garden, who won best in show and a much-coveted gold medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2023. The charity nurtures the well-being of people after spinal injury in beautiful, accessible, restorative sanctuaries within the heart of NHS spinal injury centres. The charity’s gardens are vital places for reflection and adjustment for people facing these life-changing injuries and long stays in hospital, and have a profoundly positive impact for patients, their loved ones and NHS staff. Be sure to visit their stand, take advantage of their “shop and drop” service, and support them in whatever way you can.

    Keep an eye out for Burghley’s first artist in residence at work

    Sporting artist Daniel Crane is known to many in the equestrian world and for the first time in Burghley’s history, he will be working as the event’s artist in residence in 2023, sketching at the heart of the horse trials to create a unique artwork. Keep your eyes peeled for this talented artist at work.

    And of course, last but by no means least, keep up-to-date (and watch) all of the five-star action

    Whether you are there in person or are keeping tabs on things from home, we’ve got you covered with our guides to Burghley tickets – e-tickets will be available for the first time, although cash will still be accepted on the gate – and how to watch Burghley live, plus stick with us for all the news as it happens.

    Horse & Hound has a team of reporters covering all the Burghley action. To keep reading on our website after five articles, readers will need to buy a subscription. Visit horseandhound.co.uk/join to buy a Horse & Hound website unlimited subscription or, for great value, visit magazinesdirect.com for a combined magazine and website subscription. If you are already a magazine subscriber, the cost to upgrade your subscription to include full website access is minimal – call 0330 333 1113 to find out more.

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