Julian Seaman with Tyler Simpson, Hannah Baker, Lydia Binks and Jack Moore in media centre

Badminton and Beyond

Jack Moore, Hannah Baker, Lydia Binks and Tyler Simpson Badminton Horse Trials

Jack Moore, Hannah Baker, Lydia Binks and Tyler Simpson Badminton Horse Trials

Undergraduates on our BSc (Hons) Equine Science and Sports Performance programme were privileged to have a behind-the-scenes visit to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials along with their Module Leader Jon Lowe.

This degree course was only launched at the beginning of the academic year and it has been carefully developed to include extensive industry input to help our graduates receive the necessary balance of knowledge, skills and experience so they are ‘industry ready’.

With this in mind, a series of meetings were arranged for the students during our trip to Badminton – although a bit of time was set aside so that the many opportunities for retail therapy could be enjoyed!

These prestigious horse trials are widely considered to be the most famous three-day event in the world. Held against the stunning backdrop of Badminton House in Gloucestershire, 2016 was an especially poignant year for the event as it marked its 25th anniversary.

 

  • Meeting 1: The Media Director 
Julian Seaman with Tyler Simpson, Hannah Baker, Lydia Binks and Jack Moore in media centre

Julian Seaman with Tyler Simpson, Hannah Baker, Lydia Binks and Jack Moore in media centre

Julian Seaman is the Media Director of Badminton Horse Trials and was also the Media Manager at Greenwich during the 2012 London Olympic Games. He manages to combine being a lecturer in fashion design at St Martins College with his other work.

As an author, Julian has penned several texts on equestrianism with his anecdotal history of Badminton Horse Trials – ‘Badminton Revisited’ – being published in 2009.

The students were privileged to be given an ‘access-all-areas’ tour of the Media Centre at Badminton – an area which is exclusively reserved for accredited members of the press.

Julian explained that the ‘in-house’ coverage of this famous sporting fixture is delivered to the public by his close-knit team of staff who work in conjunction with media personnel from title sponsors Mitsubishi Motors.

“The team at Badminton are like one big family and many of us have a long-standing connection with this wonderful event,” explained Julian, who realised a personal ambition by competing at Badminton on several occasions during the 1970s and early 1980s.

“It is due to the generosity of our sponsors that we have such a good Media Centre and, somewhat uniquely, their media team and mine work behind the same desk.”

Julian, who was recently invited to lecture at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, was happy to share his expert knowledge with the Reaseheath students and to answer their questions.

“I never thought that we would be lucky enough to be allowed into the media centre to experience what goes on behind the scenes. I also enjoyed meeting Francis Whittington and it was interesting to learn what he looks for when employing somebody.”

Hannah Baker, Reaseheath Undergraduate

 

  • Meeting 2: The Event Rider 
Francis Whittington with Lydia Binks, Tyler Simpson, Hannah Baker and Jack Moore

Francis Whittington with Lydia Binks, Tyler Simpson, Hannah Baker and Jack Moore

International event rider Francis Whittington agreed to meet the Reaseheath students to offer his advice about working in the industry.

Francis, who is based in Rotherfield, East Sussex, began by speaking about his own journey to becoming one of the country’s most respected event riders.

As a keen member of the Eridge Pony Club, Francis enjoyed competitive success from a young age. In 1993, he was chosen for the squad at the Pony European Championships in Hasselt, Belgium, where he went on to win Individual Gold and Team Silver.

“For me, I think that the Pony Club provides young people who wish to work in this industry with a real head start. I believe that it’s an important avenue to go down and if I am looking to employ somebody then this a big plus,” explained Francis.

Upon leaving school, Francis felt that it was important to have another career option to run alongside his love of eventing. He decided to train in horse dentistry and went on to practice this for about 10 years. Then came the point in his career where both areas were building momentum and he had to make a decision about which avenue to pursue.

“Rather than choosing the safer option that makes money, I went for the dangerous one that costs money but it was a decision that had to be made,” Francis joked.

“I believe that to be successful in life we must learn to be adaptable and avoid being rigid in our thinking; there are often many routes which will lead us to the same result and the recognition of this gets easier with experience.”

Francis explained that he applies this philosophy in his approach to training the horses he works with.

“You can have a yard full of horses but, in reality, not all of them will become top-class eventers. The key is to accept this and to tailor your approach to each individual. We must learn to make sound decisions based on the best interests of the horse concerned. Try to create a system that works for you and then have belief in it.”

“ The trip was definitely an eye opening experience. We met some really good industry contacts and I have definitely found a path in which I want to follow. Going to Badminton has given me the urge to keep working hard to achieve success in the eventing world”.

Tyler Simpson, Reaseheath Undergraduate

Francis, who was a reserve for the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, went on to ask the students about their studies and their future career plans.

“College courses are great for outlining the possibilities that are out there in the industry today but students must be willing to build industry links outside of the classroom. You never know when you may meet someone who will define the rest of your life – never turn down an opportunity if it is offered!” said Francis.

“I believe that it is really important to absorb information from as many different sources as possible. Be under no illusion, working in the horse industry is hard graft, and the drop out rate is great. Therefore, it is crucial that students experience ‘real life’ out in the workplace so that they are prepared and can be realistic about the demands of the industry that they wish to enter. You all seem to be straight in your thinking and I wish you all the best in your future careers”.

Francis Whittington and Hasty Imp tackle the cross country course

Francis Whittington and Hasty Imp tackle the cross country course

As we left Francis, he wandered off (with son Max in tow) to study the most famous cross country course on the planet with the same calm and friendly demeanor he had shown towards us.

It was an honour to meet him and we wished him the very best of luck!

*** UPDATE ***

Congratulations to Francis and Hasty Imp for finishing in a very respectable 22nd place, this is their best 4* result to date.

  • Meeting 3: The Course 

Our  visit concluded with a course walk to check out some of the fences featured on Guiseppe Della Chiesa’s magnificent cross country track which stretches over some 4 miles in length.

The students were asked to identify three fences that they felt would be particularly influential during the cross country phase – with the value of hindsight, they were pretty accurate !

Mirage Pond (credit www.badminton-horse.co.uk)

Mirage Pond (credit www.badminton-horse.co.uk)

The Mirage Pond (Fences 14 & 15)

This water complex had been given a makeover for 2016, the usual curved hedges had been replaced by an upright house at Fence 14 and a choice of two similar houses on the way out of the water at Fence 15.

This proved to be a question that some may have underestimated and it caught out its fair share of riders.

The KBIS Vicarage Vee (Fence 21)

Vicarage Vee (Credit www.badminton-horse.co.uk)

Vicarage Vee (Credit www.badminton-horse.co.uk)

This iconic fence has always commanded the respect of those who face it! It took a sabbatical in 2015 but it was back with a vengeance this year and certainly lived up to its notorious reputation.

The fence demanded absolute courage and conviction on behalf of horse and rider – but precision could not be compromised – there was little room for error and accuracy was paramount to success.

The Lake (Credit www.badminton-horse.co.uk)

The Lake (Credit www.badminton-horse.co.uk)

The Lake (Fence 26)

The beautiful setting of the Lake at Badminton is always a magnet for hoards of spectators. It appeared later in the course this year and this was reflected in the technicality of the questions asked.

There was still plenty of excitement for the thousands of visitors gathered, but 2016 was a ‘dunk-free’ zone!

 

 

 

“This was a really enjoyable trip that offered a good insight into what goes on behind the scenes to make sure that Badminton is available to be watched and that results are constantly updated – this takes a lot of effort from many people. It was great to meet Francis Whittington and to learn what it really takes to be a top event rider. I admire his drive for the sport and I found this very inspiring.”

Lydia Binks, Reaseheath Undergraduate

What’s next? 

The Reaseheath HE students are looking forward to being part of the team at Bolesworth International Horse Show in June.

 

 

Equine blog

Working Abroad – Camp America

There are hundreds of opportunities around the world to gain invaluable experiences both in life and your chosen area of interest. I was lucky enough to find one of these opportunities in 2009 with Camp America and Camp Rim Rock for Girls in Yellow Spring, West Virginia, USA.Equine blog

I completed 2 summers working in America at camp with an amazing group of friends, campers and horses in 2009 and 2010. In fact, Facebook memories has a way of making you remember these things as only this morning I was reminded how excited I was to go back to camp for the second summer in 2010; “dissertation bound and printed, all done J!!! CRR 87 days!!!!!” That surely tells you how much of an amazing time I had my first year in 2009. I can still remember arriving at camp for the very first time.

 

Through Facebook I had got in contact with the girls who were on my flight from Heathrow in May 2009 and organised to meet them at check in. Finally we were on our own and off on our biggest adventure yet. After a long flight we arrived in Washington DC to be met by camp staff and off we went across Virginia to West Virginia for 2 hours before we finally arrive at Camp Rim Rock. It was beautiful and was now my home for the next 4 months. 4 months that turned out to be some of the best months of my life.

I had an absolutely incredible experience, an experience that I will never forget and an experience that most definitely changed me for the better. In fact, if anyone knows the song “For Good” from the musical Wicked, it most definitely summarises my experiences at Camp and was even sung at our final candle float in 2009. Both this song and “Country Roads, Take me Home” will always remind me of my time in America and the friendships that I made.

Equine blog 2

Not only did I spend my time at camp, but at the end of the summer your opportunity to travel the states really begins. I didn’t travel that much but just headed off to NYC. An amazing city, that will always hold a special place in my heart because of the memories made there with my incredible CRR (Camp Rim Rock) friends.

My time at CRR was the most incredible and amazing time and I will always remember it. There are camps and work abroad experiences all over the world specialising in a variety of activities. I would most definitely recommend work abroad opportunities to everyone. It will be an experience that you will never forget and always remember with happy thoughts and incredible memories.

– Rachel Thomas, Level 3, Year 2 Course Manager

HOYS1

HOYS 2015

From 5th October till the 12th, students from Reaseheath College’s Equine Centre enjoyed a full week working as the ever-important arena party at Horse Of The Year Show (HOYS). As soon as we got to the NEC in Birmingham, we were met by the famous Olympic course designer Bob Ellis and his brilliant team of course builders, who gave us a quick introduction and then it was off to work!

The first couple of days consisted of practicing putting the fences up quickly and the team soon got into the swing of things ready for the opening day on Wednesday. The rest of the week was a blur, with so many courses to build for the different classes and all the displays to watch; the Mounted Police (who were absolutely awesome!), the fast-paced Pony Club mounted games and the Scurries (i.e. amazingly quick carriage driving!!).

If you ever get the chance to sign up for HOYS, do it! It is one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve had and it looks fab on your CV too-bonus! I would quickly like to thank the awesome team I was with as it made the whole week that little bit more nicer and I can now say that I’ve worked at the ‘World’s Most Famous Horse Show’!

– Written by Helen Ley, Level 3 Extended Diploma – Year 1.