Piggy March, who won Badminton 2019 and Burghley 2022 and has collected six senior championship medals, including world team gold and two individual European silvers, shares her thoughts on gratitude, mementos and the upcoming Europeans
I love summer weather, but the recent mild storms have been a positive for eventing as we’re running on good ground. I competed at Upton House earlier in the month and the rain meant the going was excellent, but the team there always put in a lot of effort – last year they watered to ensure decent footing.
Upton’s huge entry meant they were able to put on an extra day and deserved to do so. It’s a beautiful venue and we’re lucky to compete there.
I made a conscious effort to walk to the secretary’s area at the end of the day to see if any of the host family, the Waley-Cohens, were around to thank them for their effort and say how much I enjoyed their event. Since Covid, without prize-givings, it’s easy to ride, compete and leave, without acknowledging event teams, which is sad.
We don’t need prize-givings back, but to thank someone in person – a shake of the hand, looking them in the eye – is good manners, takes only five minutes and shows respect for the immense hard work that goes into events, most of it without financial reward. It’s also a chance to give feedback and discuss potential improvements to the event.
A small but important memento
Bramham Horse Trials is one of my all-time favourite events and John and Chloe Perry and Alison Swinburn, who own Brookfield Cavalier Cruise, have always longed to have a horse there.
We were excited to come second, but I was embarrassed to send them home with nothing but a rosette and the fairly minimal prize-money. The big events always used to give a little plaque or memento to all the finishers and you’d see photos of them adorning tack rooms, kitchens or stable doors.
Perhaps it’s just down to finance that we don’t get those any more – or is it because there are so many more three-days now, we don’t value those milestones in the same way? Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I liked having something to remind you that you made it to the event and did well.
I enjoyed Richard Davison’s column (15 June) where he suggested giving welfare awards at big events. It’s the way forward to reward positive pictures in horse sport and highlight situations where people make good decisions and can inspire others to do the same. There were a few riders that deserved a horsemanship award at Badminton for their responsible riding and presenting caring images.
Pippa Funnell’s win at Bramham showed her outstanding horsemanship – she went above and beyond to manage MCS Maverick in a way that suited him and she made him believe he was good enough to win. This summer has been a family affair for the Funnells as William was incredible to jump two clear rounds in the Hickstead Derby. The Funnells do so much good for the horse world and sport. Well done to them and their whole set-up.
The best at work
We’re in the calm before the storm now, getting ready for the eventing European Championships – an early championship this year, in mid-August – and the end-of-year major three-days. I hope to have Brookfield Inocent back for Burghley.
I was thrilled to have two horses, Brookfield Cavalier Cruise and Coolparks Sarco, listed among the reserves for the Europeans. The British squad is possibly the strongest it’s ever been and I wouldn’t be confident trying to beat any of them! But I was proud of my younger horses stepping up and getting acknowledged.
I’m just back from team training as I write this and it’s inspiring to see the best at their job and reminds you that you must continue to improve to keep up. The Europeans should be a British whitewash, but we know from last year that we need Lady Luck to be with us too. All the best to the squad heading out to France.
● What acts of good horsemanship would you reward? Let us know at email@example.com, including your name, nearest town and county, for the chance to have your views published in a future edition of Horse & Hound magazine
- This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 27 July, 2023
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