“The World’s Premier 3-Day-Equine-Event”
Badminton Horse Trials is a fabulous, annual, 5* equine event spanning over 4 days in early summer. The very best riders and horses compete in 3 stages of unique equine disciplines, all staged within the stunning grounds of the Badminton Estate in South Gloucestershire.
Badminton Horse Trials has been a long-standing, annual equestrian event going back to 1949 and is one of the most highly regarded events amongst the equine community – being classed the ‘Wimbledon Championships of the equine world’.
International equine events are graded according to the level of difficulty. The higher the grade the more complex and physically demanding the event and the stages. Badminton Horse Trials is a 5* event, one of only 6 such events of this grading in the world! Both riders and equines must qualify by completing in several lower grade events in order to compete at Badminton and qualification can take several years to achieve.
It all kicks off on Thursday and Friday, where horses and riders compete in beautiful displays of dressage, testing and demonstrating obedience, discipline, accuracy and elegance. Saturday showcases the thrilling and nailbiting cross-country portion of the event, where fitness is tested over the 4-mile ride tackling water, jumps, uphill gallops and steep banks. Finally, if all that wasn’t enough, Sunday’s finale of show jumping will seal the deal for many riders showcasing the horses’ speed and agility.
This year saw British, female rider Georgina (Piggy) French take the win, who said in a post-event interview:
“I’m still numb and find it hard to communicate in words what I’m feeling. I’ve got so used to congratulating everyone else that I can’t quite believe it.”
Well done Piggy!
Tickets for the event can be purchased online or at the gates and are very reasonably priced with tickets starting at £16. Hospitality packages are available as well but it means it’s an accessible event for everyone which is fantastic!
What do I wear?
Badminton is the pinnacle of 4-day eventing, and it’s eagerly anticipated by the general public as much as the teams and riders! Clothing at Badminton Horse Trials can only be described as posh-country. Think tweed, suede, fur and felt hats with feathers, it’s fabulous!
Badminton can be very windy on parts of the course, so take plenty of layers and comfortable shoes especially if you are going on Cross-country day as walking the course (all 4 miles of it) will take its toll!
There is a severe lack of tables and seating at Badminton, so sitting on picnic rugs or on the grass means I would always suggest jeans, shorts or long skirts for the girls, or jeans, shorts or chinos for the guys to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions.
By general rule of thumb, most people seem to wear jeans, Barbour jackets, Hunter wellies, Fairfax and Favor boots, Mackenzie & George Hats or something from Dubarry. That being said, these brands are NOT CHEAP. Hunt around online, in charity shops, or at more commercial high street shops for cheaper options. Alternatively, do your own thing… just because others are wearing it all doesn’t mean you have to!
What do I take with me?
Badminton is an outdoor event, and with the weather being as unpredictable as ever in England, it means taking the number of clothes you would usually take for a weekend away just to cover you for the day.
- Take layers, a waterproof jacket, sensible footwear and a hat.
- I would always take something to sit on as well. Whether that’s a picnic rug or camping chair, especially if you are going along to watch the cross-country.
- Take a picnic! Although there are lots of amazing food vendors, it can be very expensive. You can take your own food and drink in with you so grab the cool-box and take your own picnic for the day!
- The dog! All dogs are welcome at Badminton but must be kept on the lead at all times.
What food is there on offer?
There are loads of food vendors at Badminton selling all sorts of fantastic things! Pheasant rolls, hog roast, paella, vegan wraps, paninis, chocolate fondue, cheese on toast, greek lamb koftas and even wagyu beef burgers means there is something for everyone!
As well as all the places that sell hot food, there are countless stalls selling cheeses, olives, condiments, nuts and all sorts of treats which you can add to your own picnics! Most of these vendors offer tasters, so you can pretty much walk around getting fed delicious cheeses, nuts, olives, speciality gins or vodkas and not pay a penny! Result!
What about the all important Bar?
Like any British summer-time event, the bar is a point of call for all of us! At Badminton, there is an abundance of choice! There is, of course, the obligatory Pimms bar, champagne & prosecco vans and Thatchers Cider tent but there are also multiple bars dotted around the site where you can wet your whistle. Drinks are priced as you would imagine for a festival £5/6 for a pint, £6-8 for a glass of wine or Pimms, however as you can take a picnic including alcohol, there are plenty of options whatever your budget!
Is there much of a shopping opportunity?
There is loads of shopping that can be done at Badminton. Whether it’s animal feed, equestrian equipment, riding gear, equestrian saddlery, gardening bits and bobs, gifts, clothes, art, craft, homewares, horse transport or jewellery, they have it all! What is great is that most vendors do ‘show prices’ meaning the items for sale at Badminton are at exclusive sale prices that you won’t get in store on online!
I bought a fabulous, felt fedora hat with a beautiful feather at Badminton last year from a company called Mackenzie & George and it does me proud at every festival I go to! What’s great with their hats and accessories is that the feather is detachable so I could buy another one in a different colour to change up the look whenever I want!