The inaugural Horse & Hound Festival of Dressage took place last week (19-22 July) at Sheepgate Equestrian in Lincolnshire. A fabulous time was had by all, as demonstrated by just some of our favourite bits here…
1. Everyone was so friendly — from competitors who had never met before cheering on their lorry park neighbours, to strangers offering to read tests at the last minute, the atmosphere was super supportive.
2. Talking of new friends, Friday’s quiz saw riders and supporters team-up to go head-to-head in the H&H Festival of Dressage quiz. Nine teams took part and the Dazzling Dachshunds were crowned quiz champs.
3. The venue and the team at Sheepgate are great — the equestrian centre’s slogan is “worth the journey” and it really is. Everything is set up for dressage and the arenas have nice big hedges around them, keeping everything perfectly serene. There’s even a covered viewing area, so you can watch from the shade — essential when the UK is basking in a heatwave.
4. All types and breeds were welcome — tiny ponies, 18.2hh warmbloods, Connemaras, retrained racehorses, eventers, endurance horses, hunters, Friesians, Dales — you name it, they were there
5. There was expert advice on hand — competitors could head down to the Spillers’ stand to have their horse weighed and to pick up some top nutritional advice, before heading to the Wow Saddles stand for a saddle fitting and then speaking to a rep from Equestrian Surfaces about arenas
6. Many competitors had come to the festival on their own, but those at home could still watch them in action on Sheepgate’s livestream
7. The prizes were awesome — there were brilliant prizes down to 10th place and top-placed competitors took home so many goodies that they struggled to hold them all at once. As well as prize money, a sash, a winner’s rug and much more, the champions were all presented with a FIR-tech healing rug from Catago, worth £200.
8. Pippa the dog, owned by novice champion Sarah Clarke, became a bit of a celebrity — howling with excitement during the quiz and prize giving, before joining Sarah on the podium and for prize giving photos
9. The beautiful summer evening provided a perfect backdrop for the hog roast and music classes. Soundtracks featuring Abba, Pink Panther, John Williams scores, techno — a perfect way to end the day
10. Pink-flavoured sparkle cake? What’s not to like. Eat your heart out, Bake-Off…
11. H&H reporters were on hand to cover all the action, with more than 13 web stories, video interviews, social media coverage and a full report in this Thursday’s issue of the magazine (26 July)
12. It was just brilliant, in the words of some of our competitors — and who would know better than them…
“Everyone has been incredible and really supportive” — Wow Saddles medium champion Camilla Zanna
“The Horse&Hound Festival of Dressage is such a great idea. The atmosphere is great and I love that anyone can come and have a go. It’s been lovely staying over and enjoying the evening entertainment” — novice and elementary championships competitor Angela Bishop
“The festival is really awesome and there’s a super feel to it” — Equestrian Surfaces novice championship competitor Charlotte Cooper
“I feel like I’ve been on my holidays to be honest! I’ve just enjoyed every second of it” — Equestrian Surfaces novice champion Sarah Clarke
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday