Members of the Beaufort Hunt branch of the Pony Club had a “dream come true” last week when they were invited to gallop round the main arena at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in front of the packed stands.
The four 13-year-old riders, who are all hunting enthusiasts, were asked to join the Duke of Beaufort to parade the hounds on the final day of the five-star event (Sunday 5 May).
Rosie Bush, Jack Gibb, Orlo Clark and Beatrice Montgomerie said they were “honoured” when their DC Jane Humphries asked them to take part in the parade and had spent “a busy few months” getting the ponies prepared.
Rosie had a particularly committed build up as her pony Minstrel slipped a tendon off his hock at Christmas and has been through months of rehab.
“My hunting friend Belle Edwards kindly offered to lend me her pony for the parade, however I was hopeful that I could take Minstrel if he was ready in time,” Rosie said. “He had been on on box rest for a month and then on paddock rest, which progressed to me walking him out in hand each night after school.
“The vet said he was happy for me to start with riding and slow fitness work. I made sure I rode him every night after school, come rain or shine, to give him the best chance of recovery and to get back up to fitness.”
In April, Minstrel went to B&W Equine Hospital for a final check up, where he was given the all clear to take part in the parade.
“Excited is an understatement!” Rosie said.
Before their turn in the main arena, the Pony Club riders were given a pep-talk by huntsman Matt Ramsden, which included “what to do if we fell off”.
“As you can imagine none of our ponies have experienced cantering round the main arena at the Badminton Horse Trials so anything could happen,” Rosie said.
After settling the hounds and horses with a quick hack around the park, where they took in the Luckington Lane crossing and Vicarage V, the pack gathered in the warm up arena.
“The gates opened to the main arena and the hounds entered to a fantastic cheer. It was like we had won Badminton and were going in for a lap of honour – it was such a buzz,” Rosie said. “Nick Hopkins’ (the kennel huntsman) horse was quite strong and the Berkeley Master’s horse was very lively but our four ponies took it all in their stride and looked like pros.
“It really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that myself, Beatrice, Jack and Orlo will treasure for the rest of our lives. Having hunted since I was three years old I have some wonderful memories and this is one which is definitely going in my hunting diary in red ink.”
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