Defender Burghley Horse Trials

5 - 8 September 2024

Pony Club 3

Pony Club Team Jumping

The Pony Club Team Jumping is the highlight of Ring 2 every Burghley Thursday and for those lucky enough to compete is a memory treasured for life. This year we relive the action through the eyes of the Burghley Pony Club.


Whenever the Pony Club Team Jumping Competition is mentioned in the Horse Trials Office there is a collective and wistful trip down memory lane. Event Director, Elizabeth Inman, pictured left on her 'pony of a lifetime' vividly recalls her days competing in the Pony Club Team Jumping Competition representing the Burghley branch. Hacking for miles to Pony Club activities and being presented with a book by Lord Exeter as a reward for exemplary tack and turnout. It is fair to say that the competition remains close to her heart and testament to the enormity of the day.

Patrick Campbell

Another adult who fondly recalls his days riding in the competition is current Burghley Pony Club District Commissioner, Patrick Campbell who has since gone on to field no less than 8 teams for the competition. Patrick describes for us in detail the rollercoaster of emotions, the work and the prestige involved in the Pony Club Team Jumping Competition of today.

Each year when the coveted invitation to participate in the Pony Club Team Show Jumping Competition at the prestigious Burghley Horse Trials arrives the blood pressure is raised in anticipation. The team for Burghley is a huge deal, places are sacrosanct, a mantelpiece is not complete without a child or grandchild jumping their pony or horse with the iconic house in the background.

In no other club is perhaps a place in the team more cherished than in that of the home branch. Jumping in the huge arena can make any child nervous; the cheer as you enter the ring, the whole Pony Club branch there in support, it feels as if the whole town of Stamford is watching. Even the dulcet tones of long time commentator, Ian Scott, are raised a decibel or two to introduce you – it’s quite terrifying for parent, child and DC alike!

The team selection process is never easy, of all the hopefuls there can only be four riders that compete on the day. A course is built on grass, on land with a slight decline to match the hallowed arena, a treble combination takes pride of place. It’s intense, Mothers politely smile at the opposition and try to reassure their offspring to just do their best, that it’s all just for fun yet knowing it means everything – this is BURGHLEY!

Selection complete and as the day dawns, even at 7.30 in the morning Burghley is a hive of activity. First order of the day is the Tack and Turnout Competition, this phase is no joking matter! Lapses in turnout are quickly pointed out and quite a few tut tuts are emitted throughout the proceedings at the sight of a dull Pony Club Badge or a strand of hair awkwardly sticking out of a hairnet.

Stress levels are high from all involved as the time approaches for the team to jump. Then the call comes, ‘Burghley Branch please’, your four riders make their way down the chute to the arena. Fingers are crossed, could this be the year? Could the Burghley Pony Club finally win at Burghley?

You pray for a clear round, when the first pole rolls you pray for no more, as more poles roll you pray that this will be your discard score, you pray that all the riders will complete the course. An elimination is heart wrenching to watch. If you finish on zero you know you are in for a long day, but you are so happy you don’t get care. If you finish on four faults, you need a personal computer to work out all the possible outcomes. On eight faults or more we generally head back to horse boxes, get the bacon rolls going with a glass of bubbly and say how well everybody has done, just not our year this time!

Over the years the Burghley Pony Club have achieved a second placing, a third and many top ten finishes, agonisingly so near and yet so far but there’s always next year. There is no better feeling than seeing your branch called into the arena for prize giving. The children are thrilled to receive rosettes from notable people in eventing presenting them. They know that in years to come this can never be taken away, they’ve got the photo with the big ‘ouse in the back!