Most shows in Britain at this time of year are going to be cold, wet and muddy — and Keysoe was certainly that. But the great positive about centre owner Simon Bates is that he looks to the future. He has gravel ready to tidy up the car park and planning permission to build an indoor hospitality area.
The staff at Keysoe are lovely. From the ladies on reception to the cafeteria and collecting ring, they are a great team and the shows have a wonderful atmosphere. My only critique is that the indoor arena can seem gloomy, but Simon says he plans to top it with a lighter surface, which should hopefully brighten it up.
The British winter makes it hard to encourage investors into the sport and is one reason why riders like me travel to shows in Europe, where our owners are catered for on another level.
Clean and tidy
I’m hoping to go to Lier in Belgium for a tour soon. At the moment, I have a team of young horses, so it’s more about producing than competing. However, it will bring on the horses and give them a great experience, mainly because the courses at European shows offer such consistency. In Europe, young horses, for instance, usually jump figures of eight, with straight lines and nothing tricky. They seem to learn so much more that way. These venues also have beautiful, clean restaurants and the stables are immaculate. This means competitors respect the centres and help keep them clean and tidy.
Because some venues in Britain look tired, the competitors don’t seem to bother either. As these centres and our national sport are the reason British Showjumping (BS) exists, the big question in my mind now is whether BS is helping them enough.
Ref Horse & Hound; 15 February 2018