‘Every year we are more resilient’: British weather, Olympians and the return of spectators at Bolesworth *H&H Plus*

  • From dealing with downpours, welcoming spectators back for the first time in three years and putting on a competition for +800 horses, H&H caught up with Bolesworth’s managing director Nina Barbour…

    The Dodson & Horrell Bolesworth International Horse Show is not a fixture that sits still – and this year is no different.

    The addition of an extra discipline, a new auction and even more infrastructure are among the changes for 2021. Spectators, too, are back after a three-year hiatus, as a result of torrential downpours in 2019 and pandemic restrictions last year.

    “It’s been a great start,” Nina told H&H, adding the weather resulted in a few “teething troubles” on day one, but are “not anything we’re not used to”.

    “Every year we’ve worked at the infrastructure here, and every year it gets easier because we have a little bit more hard standing and we are a little bit more resilient.

    “It does mean an awful lot [to have spectators back] because obviously everybody was in the same boat last year, but the year before was a crazy weather year and suddenly three years passed.

    “We’ve been really privileged to be able to run sport in the last 12 months and to be able to go to shows as competitors, but everything is very clinical when you can’t bring the support team and the spectators. So it means a lot to have them here.”

    This was the first year Bolesworth had hosted showing, which acted as a qualifier for the championship at Liverpool International Horse Show (31 December – 3 January), running alongside the international jumping classes.

    “We got off to a great start yesterday with a really successful Mountain & Moorland class and the jumping started really well. Everyone’s just really delighted to be back out and jumping some decent tracks and today the sun shone, which puts a smile on everyone’s face,” s

    “It was great to see the showing competitors. It was a lovely spectacle in the ring to see something a bit different and to have a new crowd of people on site. It’s really exciting to be hosting the really prestigious final at Liverpool. It’s always good to do something different and welcome new people in. It was a very small toe in the water and I’m just delighted that the people who came had a lovely time and it all fitted in really well.”

    Reflecting on having two British Tokyo Olympic showjumping team riders, Ben Maher and Holly Smith, at the show, Nina added: “That buzz is really getting round, so to have two of the squads on site here is really exciting.

    “It’s always great to see Ben and he’s brought one of his really exciting new seven-year-olds. So it’s great to see him in the ring, great to have his team here, and of course, Holly, who will be I’m sure just as focused on the classes here as she is and preparing her horse [for the Games].”

    Nina explained offering the range of international classes – ponies, amateurs, young horses, one- and three-star – is to try and appeal to what the industry wants and needs.

    “I think it’s really important,” she said. “I hope that our shows really cater for the professionals that bring clients or other members of the family. We try and tick as many boxes as possible within the international bracket, and we always like to support the young horses, obviously there’s a synergy with the auctions we do.

    “It works – some of the professional riders can come and actually bring more of the yard and are able to relax the family at the same time.”

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