An introduction to Eventing at Brightling Park

In early July, seven EHC members spent the weekend in East Sussex, visiting Brightling Park Horse Trials - where horses and riders are put through the ultimate equestrian test of dressage, cross country and show jumping.

Staying with friends of EHC's Chair of Trustees the boys were camping and the girls staying in the farmhouse, a first-time camping experience for the boys!

Gardie Grissell, Brightling’s owner, arranged for them to meet international eventer Francis Whittington, who has been selected to represent Team GB at the forthcoming European Championships at Blair Castle in September.

After watching Frances act as dressage guinea pig on his Blenheim winning horse, Easy Target (known as Smokey to his friends) he then took the group to walk the cross-country course. This was an amazing opportunity to learn from a professional rider how to tackle fences in open country.

The next day, they all lined up at the water jump to see him compete on three young horses, running up the hill to see him gallop to the finish. Though his first horse was eliminated, he came second and third on the two others. “They’re great kids. I’d love to come and visit them in Brixton and for them to come to my yard,” Francis said.

Francis wasn’t the only famous rider they met.

Having watched Pippa Funnell compete in the show jumping phase, they followed her back to her box and introduced themselves.

Pippa was delighted to chat and told them what it was like to win Badminton three times. She asked them about their own ambitions. “I’d like to ride in events like this,” was one unequivocal response.

This was a first introduction to eventing but it has spurred our young riders into having a go themselves. Lambeth Parks have said we can build some cross-country jumps in Wyck Gardens, so watch this space!

The weekend ended with a picnic on Bexhill beach and a swim in the sea.