The very first ESNZ Horse Trials was held at the Clevedon A & P showgrounds on the weekend of 16-17 January and was a great success.   Not only did riders, supporters and spectators enjoy the event, but the organisers are keen to improve it even further for next year.  It is definitely one to mark in your diaries.


According to some of the older heads at the event, there were horse trials held in Clevedon in years past, but these were at the polo grounds.  There have been plenty of pony club events held, and indeed there were many of the Pony Club’s cross country jumps incorporated into the course.


Hamish Butler Gallie, one of the event key organisers, was pleased with how things went and has many ideas on improvements in future years including working with the neighbouring sports clubs to see more of the land could be utilised.  The first event ran short format CCN80 to CCN2*plus  classes, and Hamish does not discount being able to have higher grades as well in the future, if discussions go well.


The Clevedon Farmers Market was in full swing on Sunday, cross country day, and this meant extra safety management.  “I’ve worked with the Hastings Farmers Market at the Horse of the Year Show, so know what is involved and what the safety concerns are,” Hamish said.  There were quite a few farmers market customers who spent some time being cross country spectators too.


The organisers were not able to secure access to the dressage group’s building for the show secretary, Susan O’Brien, to operate from, but the ever-adaptable volunteer was more than happy with her gazebo near the yards and said that worked well for her.  She also claims that she is only the secretary for the first year, to get things going.


“There were a lot of riders having their first ever horse trials here this weekend,” she said.  “I had lots of questions to answer, but it is great to be able to help get them started.”


Mike Guilfoyle, the course designer, did a great job and there were plenty of questions for the horses, with many of the younger horses gaining valuable experience over fences such as the brightly coloured fish fence before the splash which did cause a few issues for some. 


“I’ve seen some flaws today, and have even more ideas about what to do next year.  We’ll have a debrief and pick it all apart, and then put it back together again even better for the future,” Mike said.


One of the competitors, Diane Gilder, had nothing but praise for the event.  “It was brilliant and well done to the organisers,” she said afterwards.  “It is great to have a fresh venue, and I will be back again next year for sure.  It was good for the babies, I had two first-timers out today.  It is nice to have these lower levels so early in the season.”


Eliza Johns, ESNZ Eventing Sport Manager was helping out at the event, and thought the organisers did a great job.  “From the lovely dressing of the cross country through to the friendly approach the organising committee took, it has been impressive.  It is nice to see it all come together, as there has been a lot of work put in by the organising committee to get this off the ground.  It is a great venue and the layout worked really well, and having the farmers market alongside was a bonus.”


So if you didn’t make it to the event this year, keep it in mind for 2022, as it is a great event to be part of. 


By Jane Thompson

Photos: Jane Thompson