I know I’m not alone when I say Badminton is THE highlight of the equestrian calendar. Over the years I’ve been to spectate on various days to experience the atmosphere and excitement of it all first hand. It has such a special vibe, if you haven’t yet been…GO!
When I can’t go in person I love nothing more than monopolising the remote control and vegging out on the sofa for hours watching as much of the BBC coverage (technical faults permitting! 😉 ) as possible. It’s normally around this time that my other half comes out with his favourite joke:
‘Oh are you watching Badminton Horse Trials?’
‘Well I hope they find them all guilty this year!’ *snigger*
*Chloe rolls eyes and sighs*
Badminton has run annually since the inaugural event in 1949 and has only ever been cancelled six times due to bad weather and the foot and mouth crisis. It’s one of only six FEI 4* events, and from the outset it was marketed as “the most important horse event in Britain” – I have to say I’m inclined to agree with them!
The very first Badminton only had 22 competitors (in 2014 there were 124!) of which 8 didn’t manage to complete the cross-country phase. With 36% of the field failing to complete the 2nd day its reputation as one of the greatest tests of horse and rider was cemented.
I love this event and hope one day to be able to qualify and compete in the grassroots competition now held there. In celebration of this fantastic event I thought I would compile some facts and footage for fellow Badminton fans, check it out below…
12# fun facts about Badminton Horse Trials
1/ In 1955 the horse trials went on tour and were held at Windsor Castle by invitation of the Queen so that the Badminton grounds could be used to host the 2nd European Championships #whathappensontourstaysontour
2/ Prior to 1965 competitors used to be graded based on their money winnings, and the competition was split into Great Badminton and Little Badminton
3/ The maximum dimensions for cross-country fences have remained unchanged since 1949, but the technicality has increased dramatically just check out the lake complex in the Pathe videos below!
4/ In 1973 the coffin obstacle at fence three penalised well over half of the field. (coffins really are deadly!)
5/ Badminton attracts the 2nd largest number of spectators for a sporting event in the world, second only to the Indianapolis 500 (a different type of horse power)
6/ Lucinda Green holds the record for winning the event more times than any rider. On the 2nd of her 6 wins in 1976 her horse Wide Awake sadly collapsed and died of a heart attack during their lap of honour
7/ There have only been 4 equestrian fatalities at the event in 65 years
8/ The horse trials changed to ‘short format’ and lost the steeplechase and roads and tracks phases in 2006
9/ In 1995 Mark Todd rode his horse Bertie Blunt round 2/3rds of the XC with only one stirrup! (not for mere mortals to try and replicate, remember this man is the maestro!)
10/ Prize money for the winner in 1949 was £150 in 2014 it totaled £80,000 (£150 nowadays wouldn’t even cover half your entry fee!)
11/ The smallest horses to complete the course were just 15hh ‘Our Solo’ and ‘Our Nobby’
12/ The oldest horse to win the event is ‘Horton Point’ who was 16 at the time (1994)
To get you in the mood here are a few videos to whet your appetite, firstly take a sneak peak at the course for this year
Badminton 2015 course preview
If you haven’t ever seen any old footage of Badminton from the early days then check out these great Pathe videos, I can’t get enough of them, and love to spend hours looking at the old fashioned tack, riding and fences, it’s a real eye-opener! Back in the day a thick cable knit jumper and stiff upper lip was often considered protection enough when out on the XC! #howtimeshavechanged
Vintage video footage of Badminton
Here’s one from 1968 that features tiny champion ‘Our Nobby’, and some classic 60’s fashion from HRH The Queen and Prince Phillip!
If you liked that then sit back and prepare to lose an hour watching these other vintage Badminton clips from the 50’s and 60’s. There’s 11 more video gems HERE – enjoy!