Belsay Horse Trials take place this weekend with an excellent line up of riders among the highlights for this year’s event.
Rio hopeful and London Olympic silver medallist Nicola Wilson, up-and-coming German star Pia Munker, who won the CIC at Floors Castle in mid-May, Scotland and GB team member Wills Oakden, as well as social media sensation and Badminton rider Ben Hobday, who has recently beaten cancer, are among the competitors.
Highlights include new cross-country tracks, designed by Adrian Ditcham, and new activities include Working Hunter Pony Classes and Pony Club Team Show Jumping, as well as lots of fantastic shopping, eating and a craft tent.
Belsay Horse Trials features classes from BE90 through to Intermediate.
Course designer Adrian Ditcham, who designs courses all over the UK to advanced level, has made some key changes to ensure a smoother flowing track for all classes.
He said: “Belsay has a fantastic setting, but the topography of the site is very hilly, which in itself is a challenge for the horses.
“I have tried to simplify the course so that horse and rider have more of a chance to get into a nice rhythm before we ask them any serious questions.”
There will be a new start and finish point and the course will run south towards the Bantom Bowl and Belsay Castle sooner than in previous years.
New fences this year include a new Boat House, as well as replicas of the famous Belsay Stallion stables, which were home to racehorses when Belsay was a stud and racing stable in the 18th century.
Organisers Peter and Laura de Wesselow are keen to attract the younger generation to Belsay Horse Trials.
This year BSPS Area1a are running a working hunter pony show on Saturday, June 4, with classes open to all.
There will also be a Belsay event pony class, which will include a dressage test and a jumping round combining show jumps and cross-country style fences in an arena.
The winner will receive a special rug presented by Mowden Hall School.
There will be Pony Club team show jumping on Sunday, with clubs including the Tynedale, Morpeth, Percy, South Northumberland, North Northumberland and Newcastle and Durham groups taking part.
The event also features fairground rides, dog agility and a new trade stands, and a craft tent for artisans.