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The History of Hartpury Horse Trials

Every summer, the stars of the equine world head to Hartpury Horse Trials. Hartpury Agricultural College, in the Gloucestershire countryside, is the location for this popular event: a five-day equine spectacle that attracts some of the biggest names in international eventing. Read on to find out more about watching the action or competing at the Hartpury Horse Trials.


Firstly, where is the Hartpury Horse Trials held?

The Hartpury Horse Trials is held at Hartpury College and University Centre campus in Gloucestershire. Over 1,500 students take courses from dog grooming to health and safety. Hartpury is also the world’s largest equine educational establishment. For example, here you can study for everything from a BSc in Equestrian Sports Coaching to a diploma in Horse Management.


Each year the Hartpury estate hosts the Hartpury Horse Trials. The dressage and show jumping stages take place in the International Arena. The cross-country phase of the event runs across part of the 360-hectare the beautiful Hartpury estate.


When was the first Hartpury International Horse Trials held?

The first Hartpury Horse Trials was held in 2003. Since then, it has fast established a reputation as one of the key events in the equestrian calendar.


For many of the years it has been run, the challenging cross-country course has been designed by Eric Winter. This well-known course designer is also the man responsible for the courses that put horse and rider to the test at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials and Badminton Horse Trials. The cross-courses at Hartpury Horse Trials are known for being big and bold. They also make the most of the terrain. In recent years, an irrigation system has been installed by Hartpury. This means that the cross-country courses can be watered as necessary. As a result, the footing is perfect.


Watching the action

The show jumping and dressage takes place in the Hartpury international Arena, which has plenty of tiered, stadium style seating. You can also follow the cross-country courses and get up close to the action and the world-class horses and riders.


Although the cross-courses change each year, there are spots where you can sit and watch large portions of the action. There is also transport available to help you get to key strategic points around the estate if you prefer not to walk.


What else is there to see and do at the Hartpury Horse Trials?

As well as watching all the action in the arena and out on the course, visitors to Hartpury Horse Trials can shop. This big event in the equine calendar attracts plenty of trade stalls, selling items to meet all your horse, pet, and country needs. From horse insurance to pampering treats for your pooch, you can shop until you drop as well as enjoy plenty of delicious refreshments at the food and drink stalls.


The well-known Hartpury Summer Fair also takes place on the same weekend, with lots to keep all ages entertained. From inflatable games to a family dog show, it’s a traditional country show.


Who competes at Hartpury International Horse Trails?

Hartpury is a high profile event and attracts the top riders in the UK and the world. Previous competitors have included Olympic legends including Sir Mark Todd, Pippa Funnel, Zara Philips, and Mary King. The trials act as a qualifier for the Olympics, World Championships and European Championships. It’s also part of the Tri-Star Grand Slam series, where any rider that can win three of the CIC three-star events will get an extra ‘winner takes all’ prize of £50,000.


The CIC course has been designed to prepare horses for Blenheim or Burghley. There are three classes: CCI*, CCI**, and CCI***. And many up and coming riders also compete at the Hartpury Horse Trials.


Could I compete at Hartpury Horse Trials?

The CCI one-star is an international event run under FEI rules, and the lowest level of international three-day event. It’s a step up from a novice national event in terms of the length of the course, the length of the dressage arena, and the level of difficulty of the cross-country element. It’s best suited to riders with aspirations to compete at international level and who are already successful competing at British Eventing (BE) novice.


The CCI two-star category is suited to anyone competing successfully at BE intermediate level. The dressage test is similar, but also includes walk pirouettes. Showjumping is up to 1.2m with cross-country jumps up to 1.15m.
The CCI three-star category is best suited to riders at BE advanced level. Jumps on the showjumping course have a maximum height of 1.25m while the cross-country jumps reach 1.2m. The dressage test has a similar technical level to BE advanced competitions.



Competing at the Hartpury Horse Trials


If you’re planning on bringing your horse to Hartpury Horse trials, make sure you understand the rules about towing a horsebox.



How much does it cost to watch the Hartpury Horse Trials?

Car parking and entry from Wednesday to Friday are free. Under 16s get in free every day. Well behaved dogs on leads are welcome.


Getting to the Hartpury Horse Trials

Hartpury is located on the A417, just four miles north of Gloucester. It is easily accessible from the M5, M50 and M4. The postcode is GL19 3BE.



Finally, what other big equine events happen at Hartpury?

Hartpury Festival of Dressage

For five days every year, the Hartpury international arena welcomes the superstars of dressage. Past participants have included Olympic gold-medalists Charlotte Dujardin with Valegro and Hartpury’s elite dressage coach and fellow Olympic champion Carl Hester.


The festival incorporates premier League, CDI3*, and CPEDI3* competitions. As well as watching the horses and riders dancing, the event offers plenty fo opportunities to do a bit of shopping, and eat and drink.


Hartpury Showjumping Spectacular

The big names in the world of showjumping come to Hartpury for the Showjumping Spectacular. Jumps are up to 1.5m, ensuring a thrilling competition spread across three days. The event concludes with two Blue Chip Championship Qualifiers, so expect to see household names in the arena.