41 Day 172 – Burghley Horse Trials & Cream Teas

This weekend I was lucky enough to attend the cross country day of the Burghley Horse Trials held annually at the magnificent Burghley House in Stamford. The day began quite cool and grey but very quickly it turned into one of the best days of the summer! After walking the course and some light morning refreshments we were at the first 2 fences of the 33 fence course, the first of the competitors were under starters orders and away with aim of completing the course not only within a certain time but also in one piece. The course has again been designed by Captain Mark Phillips and is as always designed to test horse and rider to the absolute limits, this year being one of the most difficult of recent years. Following the course in reverse gave us the opportunity to gain some great vantage points for each of the fences but this year saw record crowds and so some of the more fearsome fences were already staked out by hardy attendees, along with their picnics and champagne. The sheer skill as well as grit and determination of both horse and rider was breathtaking as they cleared the obstacles one by one, the relief and joy at having cleared the latest of the fences clearly obvious by the smiles upon landing safely, the enthusiasm and admiration of the spectators willing the partnerships on at every turn. Sadly towards the end of the day Heartbreak Hill, a talented and much loved horse broke a leg whilst galloping between fences 19 and 20 and had to be euthanised on the course, to the clear distress of both his long term rider and all his team as well as the onlookers, a tragic consequence of such a testing sport, the only consolation being that he died doing what he loved. I have included him in the selection of images from the day, rider number 105, the horse and rider in perfect harmony, supporting each other, willingly answering to the challenge, a stunning example of a horse serving his rider to the end, RIP heartbreak Hill.

 

 

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