5-8 September 2024

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Behind The Scenes At The HorseQuest Horse Inspection

HorseQuest, the UK’s leading equestrian sales website is sponsoring the Horse Inspections at Defender Burghley for a fifth consecutive year in 2018 and has gone behind the scenes to get the inside track on what to expect this Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - 11:08

The Defender Burghley HorseQuest Horse Inspections take place on the afternoon of Wednesday 29th August and again on Sunday 2nd September. According to the the FEI Veterinary Protocol, the Horse Inspection is a procedure used to verify whether a horse is fit to participate in an Event or Competition (i.e. ‘fit to compete’).

Despite being an important formality at Three Day Events, the Horse Inspection has become an incredibly popular spectator event – and something of a catwalk too!

Introducing Our Contributors

Imogen Mercer: Imo was Head Girl for Sam Griffiths for five years – during which time Sam took the 2014 title at Badminton with Paulank Brockagh, was third at Defender Burghley with Happy Times and represented Australia at the Olympics in Rio and the World Equestrian Games in Normandy.

Sam Griffiths: needs little introduction. Olympic International event rider, 2014 Badminton winner, Representing Australia at WEG later this year for the third consecutive championship.

Mick Varley: you’ll find Mick working tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the stables in order! His first visit to Burghley was in 1982, assisting the previous Stable Manager, Len Brunt – and he’s been here ever since! He was in the Kings Troop for 22 years working with horses, and was the Stable Manager for Windsor before being asked to take over here at Burghley.

How Do You Get The Horse Looking It’s Best For The Trot Up?

Imo: Most of your preparation for a trot up will be done in the lead up to a big three-day event. A horse’s coat doesn’t just come good with one cold bubble bath when you arrive at an event. In the lead up to a major event I would bath the horse after every gallop thoroughly. But I’d be careful not to go to bath crazy as horses need their natural greases in their coat for sturdiness against tack and rug rubs.

Talk Us Through The Morning Of The Event..

Imo: Make sure you allow for plenty of time, don’t be stressed and rushing around the horse making them stressed too. There are plenty of things that you can do way ahead of time, clean your bridle, get the rug and boots out and make sure you have what you will need to take with you. Always plan your plaiting into your schedule even if the horse is going to be ridden close to trot up – they can always be ridden half plaited to give you more time to get ready.

Sam: We also get the vets to check the horse/s in the morning prior to the trot up so that there are no surprises. I’ll always aim to be ready at least half an hour to an hour before the trot up starts.

Mick: On the morning of the trot up we make sure the surface is swept clean. We also string the area, to make sure the people on the inside don’t get too close to the judges etc.!

The atmosphere in the stables for the first inspection is full of excitement, and fairly light-hearted. Whilst lots of time is spent preparing the horse for the inspection, the riders are taking their own turnout to another level!

In contrast the second inspection leads to a very business-like atmosphere in the stables!!

The Trot Up Itself…. What’s In Your Head At The Time?

Imo: Once you’re there, the groom’s job should be done really. I would take a grooming mitt and some brushes, a towel and hoof oil for final touches once there are a few left to go. I take the rug and boots off that I have led the horse up in, and brush them over to even out any stray hairs. I clean up any mess around their mouths with a towel, add a quick dash of fresh hoof oil and I’m good to go.

Sam: You hope that the horse is sound! Whatever you are feeling, be confident and make sure you run and the horse trots positively.

Imo: …and be aware of how the atmosphere can affect even the most sedate of horse.

…Any Do’s Or Don’ts?

Sam: DO – Keep looking ahead and going straight – if you look down or are wobbly then the committee might thing there is something wrong. DON’T drag your horse or hold it too tight as this can make a horse look lame.

Mick: DO – Leave yourself plenty of time to get to the arena, it’s a long way!

How Has The Trot-Up Changed Over The Duration Of Your Eventing Career?

Sam: It is far more glamorous than it was and a lot more effort goes into what one wears. You now see a lot of fashion statements – which do help the riders’ sponsors.

Do You Have Any Favourite Brands That You Like To Wear?

Sam: Our horses are always looking their best thanks to Supreme Products and I, although an Aussie, am fairly traditional and therefore wear clothing from Cordings of Piccadilly.

And Finally, Who’s Your Money On To Take The HiHo Silver Best Dressed Title This Year At Burghley?

Sam: Harry Meade in Cordings of Piccadilly would be in for a good chance, as long as he chooses the colour of his trousers wisely!

Imo: I’d say Georgie Strang could be in with a chance after her stunning outfit choice at Badminton this year.

Mick: Best Dressed, Sara Bullimore!

To find out more about HorseQuest, please visit their website at: www.horsequest.co.uk