Off the back of a fantastic results at Badminton, we caught up with SPILLERS supported rider Imogen Murray to find out more about The Burghley Young Event Horse (BYEH) series and how she uses it to discover potential eventing stars of the future. Here’s what Imogen had to say…
Anyone with a 4 or 5 year old horse with registered breeding can enter any of the qualifiers and then those that qualify can enter the final at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in September. You can take any type of horse but to do well they should be an event type with plenty of thoroughbred blood or look like they have plenty, good conformation, paces and jump. Although it’s not strictly these types that actually do well in practise as it always down to the individual judges preference! It should be a horse that has 4* potential that succeeds in these classes and past results (particularly in the 5 year old final) show it is a good indicator of potential future success in eventing. However if your horse doesn’t do well in these classes it does not necessarily mean they don’t have 4* potential. For example the horse I ride Ivar Gooden took part in BYEH classes and regularly failed to make the top 10 in the qualifiers but still made it to 4* and has completed Badminton twice and Burghley.
I personally don’t prepare my young horses any differently to do BYEH than I would for their future eventing career as I prefer to use the classes for education and if I do well then it’s a bonus! Some people do prepare horses specifically for these classes particularly in the 4 year old section. I prefer to do little schooling in the arena with my 4 year olds with the idea that they will hopefully have long eventing careers and I find they are more receptive as 5 year olds preferring to keep it “fun” at the start.
I think the BYEH classes are a great education allowing the young horses to do both a short dressage test and jumping course in one outing and the opportunity to introduce them to big international arenas at some of the qualifying venues (for example Chatsworth, Bramham and Rockingham, etc). It’s also a great insight into their attitude and how they cope with the format and the atmosphere.
For anyone looking to compete in a BYEH class there are a few things to be aware of. Firstly because the format requires you to go straight from the dressage test to the jumping test you are required to jump in a snaffle. Again this suits some horses more than others so practise at home! Secondly I would recommend going to view a class beforehand so you are familiar with the format and what the horses are required to do. And lastly all horses are required to do a trot up as part of the confirmation element so again have a practise at home as its not too endearing to the judges if you can’t get your horse to trot or you disappear into the distance!
Riding in the final was quite overwhelming to start with, a lot of people are there to see potential future stars!! But once we entered the arena the format is the same as the qualifiers so we quickly settled in to the routine. There is the added element of some cross-country fences, which are optional in the qualifiers, but rarely appear, so that can be a bit of a shock to the young horses who may have seen cross-country jumps before but not in that environment.
This year I already have a 5 year old qualified for the final called MD Sandyhills Penhills Zorro who contested the 4 year old final last year and finished 5th. He is a lovely horse who didn’t do a huge amount as a 4 year old and I almost didn’t take him to the final as he hadn’t done much preparation. But he has an excellent temperament and went beautifully there last year and learnt a lot from the experience. He has started his eventing career this year and has qualified for the 5 year old eventing championships so fingers crossed he is going to be big star. I have also got a 4 year old mare who will contest a few of the BYEH classes as part of her education called Jezebel HDH. She again has a fantastic temperament and it will be interesting for me to see how she progresses this year. She was recently much admired at Rockingham in the BYEH class where she finished 3rd.
With the huge success Imogen and Ivar Gooden have experienced, we can’t wait to see what the future holds for Imogen’s up and coming horses and look forwards to seeing them in action at the BYEH on Friday 31st August.