One piece of advice I have for anyone attending the Horse of the Year Show is don’t wear new shoes. After two days exploring as much of the show as I possibly could, making my way back and forth between the Top Spec arena and the Andrews Bowen arena, I now have a number of painful blisters on my feet. There is just too much to see at the Horse of the Year show. After taking a look at the timetable for the weekend I think I will be changing back into my comfy boots in order to keep up with the HOYS pace.
After having the first couple of days to acclimatise myself back with HOYS. Friday was the first day where I started to get stuck into my new role as HOYS Ambassador – I have to pinch myself every time I use that title.
I was met with the usual friendly faces as I made my way from the hotel to the HOYS press office. It was there I met Rupert Bell, radio broadcaster for Lloyd Bell Productions, who decided it would be a good idea to team up and take a walk around the Horse Of The Year Show and see if there was any footage that we could capture. Even through it was early in the morning as we made our way to the Top Spec arena, the crowds were already huge. I watched as Rupert filmed a couple of videos capturing the atmosphere in the Top Spec arena. His commentary truly brings the images alive and I was in awe. I filmed my first short video with Rupert amongst the crowds in the trade stands. It was a short introduction to myself as the new HOYS ambassador. As we made our way weaving through the trade stands and the ever growing crowds, we found ourselves at the ‘Chocolicious’ chocolate fondue stand and met Julia who was so kind as to let me have some strawberries and marshmallows coated in delicious chocolate. Rupert decided that it would be great to shoot a short video of me eating the chocolate – as a chocolate fiend and a regular customer at the stand last year I was definitely up for it. The chocolate tastes just as good as it looks. One word of warning I have for people though is, if you are a messy eater like me, wearing a white top probably isn’t the best, as I found out with the lovely pink strawberry stains down my top. However, I will say that it was totally worth it.
I then went to watch some of the International Show Jumping which was taking place in the Andrews Bowen Arena. The quality of riders that make there way to the NEC to take part in HOYS continues to amaze me. One thing that I think more than deserves a mention is seamlessness of the show and the people – arena crew – who manage to mould and change the arena so quickly from one class to another. From jumping to scurry driving to the mounted games, between the flashing lights and the upbeat music, by the time you notice anything the arena has completely changed and the next class has started.
I was really looking forward to Carl Hester’s masterclass and I made my way up to the Champions Bar to get the best view possible. I was expecting to be amazed but I also found myself laughing aloud at certain points at the humour he injected into his demonstration. He brought so much character to the masterclass and that coupled with Charlotte and Amy and the beautiful horses they were riding made for one of my unforgettable HOYS experiences this year. Carl has done so much for dressage and equestrian sports in general and that was evident by the sheer number of people who queued up for an autograph or photograph with him. It was an absolutely great scene to witness.
Whilst I had been able to catch the Musical Display of the Heavy horses the day before I had been informed that my accreditation allows me to get into the moat right beside the arena. Watching the display in such close proximity emphasises the sheer size of the horses and the way they navigate their way all over the arena was magnificent to watch. It was an honour to get to watch this display from two different angles, a great spectacle.
Before I headed back over to the hotel I was lucky enough to catch the Grandstand Media Five Fence Challenge. I am so glad I was able to catch this class it was great to watch. I love in show jumping that there are a number of unique classes that test the riders in different ways, and I think the five fence challenge is one of my favourites.
I decided to fully embrace the HOYS spirit on Friday night and I dusted of my heels and a nice dress and I headed back over to the NEC for the evenings performance. However, before I settled down to enjoy the show I filmed a short video at the HOYS merchandising stand. I still regularly wear my HOYS socks, top and jumper that I purchased last year. They are comfy and look great and I can’t wait to return to the stand with my purse over the weekend. There are a number of pieces I would like to purchase – especially to keep me warm throughout the upcoming winter nights when training in my shed at home in Scotland gets especially cold. I then made my way for a quick dinner – where I often spot a lot of extremely talented riders and I have to inwardly contain my excitement.
Once again I made my way up to the Champions Bar to watch the evenings show. The atmosphere was electric and we were treated to incredible dressage in the Future Elite Championships. I am in awe of the horses and the choreography to music. Then the tempo was lifted again with the scurry drivers – maybe one day I can give scurry driving a try as the speed and skill involved is something that really appeals to me – and the mounted games. My love for the Gilles Fortier demonstration/ mini action film continues to amaze me – every time I watch it my eye catches a new aspect of the show I missed the time before – I just love it. Lastly was the NAEC Stoneleigh Stakes which rounded off what was a great day at HOYS. I found the ‘find your own line’ in the jump off hugely exciting and it was great to share the moment with my mum who had flown down from Edinburgh to join me for the weekend.
Everyday at HOYS I am treated to so many wonderful things, often I can’t believe my eyes. I am extremely excited to see what the weekend has on offer. The puissance has always been a firm favourite of mine so I cannot wait for that.