Thursday, 10 May 2018

Badminton Horse Trails {& so much more}

I have found as I have got older that life often sends you messages. Messages that test you, ones that bring courage and ones that bring opportunity. I will never tire of being thankful for life's opportunities. They can come by in small messages or in the form of grand gestures, but I know when they come and I am forever thankful for them and the gift they bring to my family. On Saturday we headed out to Badminton Horse Trails with JOULES for a working/family event. I was there to create coverage on their social media and in return I was able to bring my family along. Having grown up around horse lovers and feeling very uninterested in them as a teen, heading out to a horse trial probably wasn't something I would have naturally opted in for but after the day I actually discovered that maybe, just maybe enjoying this sport is something I can really do. For a lot of us, we might only know horse competitions as showjumping or horse racing. Maybe if we are lucky we might have watched dressage at local shows but if, like me, that's really where the knowledge ended then what is the horse trials all about?
Well, this is a non-detailed version but one I hope encourages you to try them out!

Badminton Horse Trails, set right in the heart of Badminton village, with the beautiful Badminton house as the back drop, is a near week-long competition. I had it explained well to me; its like a triathlon but for animals. The same horse has to compete in separate events building up a point score. The aim; to win in the most areas. It is the horse who is the athlete, as you would expect, but no horse will win without an extremely skilled rider. These trials are "life goals" and what I saw was a huge "family" event. Nothing made it more clear that it was a team event than to see the horses, who had completed the cross country events, being absolutely doused in water. And I mean drenched! It was all hands on deck! Rider off, (and being embraced and congratulated by loved ones) then everyone was just cooling these horses down. I mean, throwing everything, buckets, sponges, wet towels over their backs. It was the family at the heart of it all. The ones at the end of the finish line were the ones that all made the event for me and made me understand the importance of it in their lives. And the movie moment came as a rider made her way off the track into the arms of her partner where he was just saying "well done" as he kissed her all over her face! It was magic, a real raw energy to a sport I had never had any interest in! Walking back to the Joules picnic ground they had set up by their sponsored Jump, I felt this overwhelming want to see more. I got it now, I got the point of today's efforts. The cross country event was one of a few in the days proceedings. It was actually the only one we saw, and the main thing that brought in the visitors. Walking round, there weren't as many horses available to see as I had thought there would be. It wasn't a "show day" and that is what I guess is also important to recognise; this was serious sport and the cross country day was the main event. 

Like I said even not being into horse trails wouldn't have been an issue for the trip, I love to learn, so for me, I loved the horses but there were a lot of show things as well. Clothes a plenty with a huge JOULES store at "show prices" which was great. They even had a store just for their Badminton range which you may have seen on the website before. Aside from that, they had a lot of shops for horse riders but actually a huge amount to suit anyone. The street food and drink scene was huge! Loads of variety and plenty of places to stop. 

Then came the kids' area: Cue funfair madness! It was great actually, the kids had a 3 rides only rule, which they stuck to with no moaning which meant they got a 4th go on something! We obviously went for the classics like the helter skelter and then a run for all of us on the big wheel! A perfect ride for seeing just how many people were at the event as you could see the car park span for miles!! 

With a range of breaks to let the kids just play (even with lego we brought from home as a distraction) the day flew. We really enjoyed spending time at the JOULES picnic area which was only there for the Saturday and placed right on the jump corner. It was great and a very clever thing for them to do. Picnic tables, fresh flowers, all their outdoor blankets and cushions and one of their DFS sofas as a photo booth for people to have a print out photo. It was picturesque and with the sun beating down we found ourselves so very comfortable up there! 

On the eventual trail home back to the car I held the hand of our little boy as our little girl gave up half way across the fields. Rob scooped her up and with hands full of unworn coats and wellies (JOULES kindly got us some flip flops while we were there) we trudged back with hearts full of happiness after a day that we went into knowing nothing about and came away with so much more than just knowledge of a new sport. The day was one for family, for happiness and just for following the opportunities that were placed out before us. The conversations and laughter that came from people we only met on the day just completely infected us with a happiness and pride that we, just a simple family from Lincoln, were able to partake in something like this. 
Badminton was fantastic. It was a great day out. It was interesting, it was beautifully hot and it just reminded me that life is about 'the team'. Once again, it doesn't matter how big yours is, it's all about YOUR team and doing it right for you! 

If you would like to find out more about Badminton Horse Trails and get a date in your diary for next year visit their website HERE. If you want to see whats new at JOULES, visit their website HERE.

*This post and experience was sponsored by Joules. Content created is all my own.

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