The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials is finally here! All the competitors arrived on Tuesday to settle their horses in and enjoy hacking around the estate, but with each day passing the pressure builds up with the dressage Thursday/Friday, then tackling one of the toughest cross country tracks in the world on Saturday to the nail biting show jumping climax on Sunday. We as spectators are incredibly excited for the days ahead, but if you’re a competitor, you may be feeling slightly nervous right now!
So how do you prepare for this? The team at Badminton spoke with Harry Dzenis who is looking forward to riding Xam and Dromgurrihy Blue (Rocky) at the prestigious 4* early April to find out how his preparations were going and here’s what he had to say then;
Further to this, we’ve caught up with Harry this week to find out how he’s been preparing over the last week and how his nerves are holding up…
What sort of work do you do with Xam and Rocky in the last week before the big event?
It’s difficult to know always how much work to do with them the week before Badminton. You don’t want to under do it so they’re too fresh but then you don’t want to overdo it so they are going there tired. In the last week, I have had a dressage lesson with Pippa Funnell which was brilliant, her attention to detail is unreal. My final jump lesson was with Gemma Tattersall and both boys jumped great which makes me feel really confident. Then they had a final gallop which was just an easy one - you aren’t going to get them any fitter at this late stage.
How do you manage your nerves throughout the week?
I try not to let my nerves bother or affect me. I like to do lots of visualisation so that when I get there I feel fully prepared. I just basically try and tell myself that it’s taken years to get here and I’ve got to keep my head in order to give me and the horse the best possible chance.
Do you have any superstitions or rituals you follow?
I don’t have any rituals or superstitions. Always after a good event I think to myself “I mustn’t change a thing” but inevitably with horses the next event doesn’t go to plan so I think that ritual was a waste of time!
What essential bit of kit could you not be with at Badminton?
The most essential bit of kit is shampoo I think for Xam being a grey and maybe me after cross country day!
You have competed at many events across the world but what makes Badminton so special to compete at?
Badminton is the just the one. The event you dreamed about riding at as a kid. Everybody in the horse world and beyond knows about Badminton, it has so much history. There is no feeling like it then walking out of the archway on cross country day and into the park and seeing the crowds. Even thinking about it gives me goose bumps.
Do Rocky or Xam get nervous at a big occasion like Badminton and how do you manage that?
Xam is a very nervous horse and takes quite a bit of management. We have to make sure he has lots of walks and hand grazing. Rocky is a worrier but shows it less than Xam. We just try and give them as much chill out time as we can.
Which day are you most looking forward to?
The buzz on cross country day is like nothing else and it gives you a real thrill. At the moment I can’t wait to get there and experience it.
Do you have a support crew helping you during the event?
I’m very lucky that I have a fantastic support crew at Badminton. My head groom Kevin Urwin is there the whole week. He’s helped by Elliot, and friends India and Freddie on cross country day as it can be quite hectic and full on!
Where do you all sleep during the event?
Contrary to belief we are not put up in some big 5* hotel. We all sleep in the lorry. It can be a bit chilly at times so hopefully the sun will come out. There’s a great atmosphere in the lorry park and in the stable’s canteen.
It sounds like Harry can’t wait to get to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials and we wish him the best of luck with Xam and Rocky! If you love Badminton and think you know a thing or two about the world renowned event, why not test your knowledge with our Badminton Brain Buster Quiz! If you want to view the timetable to see when Harry or any of the other competitors are on or view the leader board visit the Badminton Horse Trials website for full information.