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BLENHEIM INTERNATIONAL HORSE TRIALS

PUBLISHED: 15:53 18 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:11 20 February 2013

William Fox Pitt

William Fox Pitt

As the final countdown to the 2009 Trials gathers pace, we take a closer look at the skills each horse and rider must demonstrate.

As the final countdown to the 2009 Trials gathers pace, we take a closer look at the skills each horse and rider must demonstrate

Eventing, also known as Horse Trials, originally evolved from the training and selection of cavalry horses. Each of the three disciplines is designed to fully test the ability of each horse. Dressage shows how trainable the horse is and its basic paces in walk, trot and canter. The cross country tests stamina, speed, jumping and bravery while the show jumping shows athleticism, control and accuracy.

The sport is rather like the pentathlon in that it combines different disciplines in one competition and is run on a cumulative penalty basis. The competitor with least penalties at the end is the winner. All horses need to build up their levels of skill and the sport has different levels of competition: Intro, Pre-novice, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced through which horses progress as they score points and gain experience.

The first test is dressage, which will take place on Thursday 10 September and Friday 11 Sep against the magnificent backdrop of Blenheim Palace. This is comprised of a set sequence of compulsory movements in an arena that is 20 metres wide by 60 metres long. The test is scored at specified positions around the arena where judges look for balance, rhythm and suppleness - and most importantly, obedience of the horse and harmony with its rider. Each movement is scored out of ten with the total being added up and converted to a penalty score and percentage.

The second phase is the cross-country where a course of natural obstacles has to be jumped - again inside an optimum time. Being over the time or being well under time incurs penalties, as does stopping at obstacles or falling off. Cross-country day and the pivotal part of the whole competition is Saturday 12 Sep for the CCI3* and on Sunday 13 September for the CIC3* (the star-spotter class for 8 and 9 years old horses who show a great deal of promise for the future). Competitors take on the challenge of the big, solid fences and water jumps across the River Glyme on a timed course which runs around the parkland.

The show jumping phase is one round of jumping with a maximum time allowed and the objective is to jump all the fences clear inside the time. The fences are not as high as top-level show jumping but are quite substantial for horses which are not specialists at show-jumping. Fences knocked down and refusals incur penalties, as does exceeding the time allowed.
The show jumping is the nail biting finale for the CCI3*on Sunday 13 September. Riders will show jump throughout the day in reverse order of merit, with the order having been decided after cross-country phase. Accuracy and skill is at a premium in this high-pressure phase, in which a single mistake can completely alter the leader board, and only the best will triumph, thus making the winner of the CCI3* Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials a worthy champion. The CIC3* show jumping will take place on Sat 12 September.

Of course, in addition to the equestrian action, there will be lots of other things going on too. With main arena activities and displays guaranteed to entertain, the Dodson & Horrell-sponsored Pony Club and Riding Club teams competing in the second arena on Thursday and Friday, and over 175 shops to see, the whole family will be occupied!



PROVISIONAL TIMETABLE FOR THE 2009 EVENT
This is a provisional timetable and may be amended nearer to the event date.

Wednesday 9th September
15.30: 1st CCI3* Horse Inspection - near stables, entry and parking complimentary

Thursday 10th September
08.00: Gates open. Access to retail village from 09.00 until 18.00. Free entry after 15.00
08.40: 'Guinea Pig' CCI3* Dressage Test for judges to compare marking systems
09.10: Onwards CCI3* Dressage within Marlborough Arena
09.00 - 17.00: Dodson & Horrell Riding Club Team Competition within Bladon Arena
10.00 - 16.00: Attractions and displays within Blenheim Arena

Friday 11th September
08.00: Gates open. Access to retail village from 09.00 until 18.00. Free entry after 15.00
08.00: CIC3* Horse Inspection near stables and car parking
09.10: 'Guinea pig' CIC3* Dressage test for judges to compare marking systems
09.30 onwards: CCI3* Dressage within Marlborough Arena.
CIC3* Dressage within the Churchill Arena
09.00 - 17.00: Dodson & Horrell Pony Club Team Competition within Bladon Arena
10.00 - 16.00: Range of attractions and displays within Blenheim Arena

Saturday 12th September
07.30: Gates open. Access to retail village from 09.00 until 18.00
08.00: Cooked breakfast available for purchase in VIP Members' pavilion
10.00: CCI3*Cross-Country phase (until approx 15.00)
15.00: CIC3* Show jumping in Marlborough Arena
10.00 - 16.00: Range of displays and attractions within Blenheim Arena
Childrens' attractions including play area with inflatable games/bouncy castles, climbing walls etc

Sunday 13th September
08.00: Gates open. Access to retail village from 09.00 until 17.00
08.00: Cooked breakfasts available for purchase in VIP Members facility
08.00: CCI3* Final Horse Inspection - near stables
08.45: Start of CCI3* show jumping for lower placed horses in Marlborough Arena
11.00: CIC3* Cross Country Phase
12.45: Parade of hounds
13.30: CCI3* Showjumping for top 25 placed horses in Marlborough Arena
15.00: Anthony Nolan Fun Run on cross country (Call 0150 6655361 for info).
16.00: Presentations in Marlborough Arena by The Duke of Marlborough
17.00: Secondary presentations in VIP Members facility
10.00 - 16.00: Range of attractions and displays within Blenheim Arena
08.30 - 10.30: Masterclass within Bladon Arena
13.00 - 15.00: Masterclass within the Bladon Arena
Childrens' attractions including play area with inflatable games/bouncy castles, climbing walls etc

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