Blair Castle, Scotland

Longines FEI European Eventing Championship 2015 Blair Castle

Hey guys,

Sorry it’s taken so long to get another post up. I’ve been finishing some last minute details for uni. Can’t believe I start in less than a week!

Anyway, this Sunday I forced an at first reluctant Mum up to Blair Atholl for the annual horse trials. I love going every year, just to have a nose around and watch all the different classes and events. As a bonus, there’s also a bit of shopping to be had as well.

I do have to say a MASSIVE Thank You to Joanne Fairbrother of Avonmill Equestrian  for our last minute tickets.

The journey up to Blair is always so spectacular, as the views and sights are just stunning. There’s a particular bend of the A9 which sits in the middle of a valley, and to just round that corner and see these great, imposing green conifers towering over the road-it just takes my breath away every time. However, it always takes me by surprise, and I am therefore yet to take a photograph of this scene.

Upon arrival at Blair, I was reminded that it had been raining heavily on Saturday as the ground was just mud, even our 4×4 was sliding about all over the place. One woman was making a futile attempt to push a Mercedes through the parking field to the grass and getting nowhere. Walking anywhere was a struggle, people sliding and squelching everywhere. Through the gate was the worst bit, as everyone had to walk there.

Once through the gate we headed straight to Mum’s one stop shop for coffee. She discovered this stall the year we were up for my 16th, and sticks by her belief that this is the best coffee at Blair. I would have to say it is the best on-the-go hot chocolate I’ve come across, so I’m not complaining.

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Whilst waiting in the queue for our drinks we met Missie’s former owner Abby, and chatted to her and her mum whilst watching the ex-racehorse class, and who did I realise was handing out prizes but Clare Balding! Couldn’t get any decent photos though as we were sitting at a funny angle to her.DSCN1020 DSCN1022

After watching until the end of that class, Mum and I got up for a wander, as we were staring to turn to icicles. We only got as far as the far end of the ring before I realised that it was a side-saddle class up next. I love side-saddle riding. I think it looks so elegant and classy, and would absolutely love to learn to ride side-saddle with Missie, but a decent side-saddle is absolutely extortionate, as its a dying art. I think Missie would be a great side-saddle horse though, as she’s so comfortable to ride.

In the class there were several stunning horses, I in particular loved a stunning black Fresian, but the judge didn’t agree with me, as it wasn’t placed very highly. Such is the world of showing.Whilst watching the class Mum’s friend Bernadette found us and stopped for a chat. She’s had a great Blair with her young gelding Cayro Spring.

By this point Mum and I were eyeing up every food stall in the place in search of lunch, but I couldn’t resist stopping ring-side of the Clydesdale Championship. I absolutely love the thundering, ground-shaking of these gentle giants galloping past-what a feeling!

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We settled on some pasties and a shared brownie from the Just Baked stall, Mum being adventurous trying the Blair Special Venison and Chocolate Pasty. Whilst eating we wandered around the show jumping arenas before heading out to have a wander round the cross country course.

Those cross country jumps are terrifying! How do people jump them? They are really high, really wide and some have almost vertical drops after them. Cross country jumpers and eventers are mad! Many of the jumps are very well decorated though, and also very pretty.

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We wandered quite a distance out, and I commented on the fact that we could still hear the Queen’s Piper’s away out there. How bizarrely terrifying must a Scottish army have been in the past? On our wander back Mum and I walked past a small convoy of parked Range Rovers, and thought nothing of it until we noticed the Royal flag attached to the nose of one-we wandered past the Queen’s car! She wasn’t anywhere to be seen though, just a very bored driver sitting in his car.

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Some photos taken by the mini-kelpies, it was time for some shopping! Wandering in and out of different stalls I spotted a beautiful blue tartan blanket scarf in the Joules clothing tent, and then got slightly distracted by the leather hats. After learning that we already have a real leather cowboy hat up the loft somewhere, I chose the scarf, and can honestly say I’ve not taken it off since. It’s so comfy! Mum bought herself a lovely fur ear warmer, and we headed in off in search of coffee.

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Coffee and hot chocolate in hand, we sat and watched the pre-veteran in hand class and enjoyed our brownie. After this, we decided it was time to head for home, as did everyone else at Blair it would seem. It was slow the entirety of the A9, and it’s quite a long road. We did however choose the right time in the sense that the heavens opened just as we left, so at least we didn’t end up soaked.

All in all it was a very enjoyable day, and I look forward to returning to Blair next year.

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