Blog Archives

“This is my eleventh Badminton, so it is about time I went first!” First drawn Paul Tapner tells us how it is…

Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials launches on Tuesday 5th May with the Grassroots event. Wednesday 6th May sees the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse Class and the first Horse Inspection for the main event – Thursday 7th May and Friday 8th May are dressage days, with Saturday 9th May seeing XC day, and Sunday 10th May concluding with the show jumping and presentations.

WOW Saddles is proud to be sponsors of some elite riders contesting the trophy this year – we speak to Paul Tapner about his plans:

Paul Tapner is a veteran of ten Badmintons already; 2015 will be his eleventh, and he has got one victory to his name already, winning in 2010 on Inonothing. He is drawn first to go on Kilronan, his WEG mount, who was leading at Badminton last year until he rolled a pole in the final phase. “This is my eleventh Badminton, so it is about time I went first! Kilronan has plenty of experience, and he will get the best of the ground. Also, because he did so well last year, he will probably not be disadvantaged by being first in the dressage, where sometimes you can be a victim of the judges being cautious,” Paul explains. In complete contrast to Kilronan, Paul’s other ride Indian Mill, is starting at his four star. “I would have liked the [new] course to be as it was last year for him; he is a great horse cross country, but it looks to me like the course has been ‘softened’ from 2014, which is a pity. In fact, I think that [course designer] Guiseppe (de la Chiesa) has been really unimaginative with his changes. Mostly, he has just reversed the course without changing the fences much. Of course, I might be eating my words on Saturday night,” laughed Paul. Indian Mill has plenty of good 3* form, including 3rd at Blenheim and 4th at Gatcombe, both, as it happens behind fellow WOW representative, Francis Whittington!

Paul Tapner (on right) with Kilronan, pictured with Francis Whittington and Easy Target. Photo by Luly Kyriacou.

Paul Tapner (on right) with Kilronan, pictured with Francis Whittington and Easy Target. Photo by Luly Kyriacou.

Badminton bound – Francis Whittington shares his plans

Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials launches on Tuesday 5th May with the Grassroots event. Wednesday 6th May sees the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse Class and the first Horse Inspection for the main event – Thursday 7th May and Friday 8th May are dressage days, with Saturday 9th May seeing XC day, and Sunday 10th May concluding with the show jumping and presentations.

Francis Whittington, pictured on Easy Target (photo by Lulu Kyriacou)

Francis Whittington, pictured on Easy Target (photo by Lulu Kyriacou)

WOW Saddles is proud to be sponsors of some elite riders contesting the trophy this year – we speak to Francis Whittington about his plans:

Francis Whittington has already completed at Badminton on both Sir Percival and Easy Target, but this year, he is travelling to Gloucestershire with two horses that are both new to the world famous event. Fernhill Highlight and Hasty Imp are both deserving of their places on merit, but that was not the only reason Francis decided to bring this pair from his enviable quartet of 4* rides. “Easy Target has completed here before, so when the chance came to take him to Lexington, that seemed a good idea, Westside will be more suited by Luhmuhlen. Of the two, Hasty Imp is more experienced, having completed at Burghley last year, but Fernhill Highlight was fifth at Blenheim CCI***, which was an excellent result at the level, so I think he is ready,” Francis tells us. “And it is great for the owners to go to Badminton, so being able to take two horses for two different owners is great,” added Francis. Although the riders have not seen the course in real life yet at the time of writing, Francis has been having a sneak peak online. “The changes look exciting, although you never know how a course will ride until you get there; there are so many variables like the weather and the going, but I think my horses are ready. We might not be winning this year, but it will be great experience for them both, and I am optimistic about completing on both of them,” he concludes. We wish him luck!

Izzy Chaplin’s blog: Ups and downs of horses!

We have a catch up with WOW Saddles sponsored rider Izzy Chaplin to find out what she and her horses have been up to since her last blog…

“Wow, it feels like ages since I wrote my last blog! It has been full steam ahead with revision for my IB exams, but I am pleased to say that I have done 11 out of 15 exams now. Woo, time to spend a bit of time with the horses!”

“After having a great weekend of training up at Keysoe, I was on a high leading up to the winter championships at Hartpury. But then disaster struck. Dora came in from the field with a puncture wound to the chest. Unfortunately she had hit an artery. Luckily we managed to patch her up pretty quickly with the help of some magic crystal things (apparently stitches are very old school) from the vets 😉 Absolutely amazing!”

“Unfortunately this meant that she had to have a week off which gave me a week of working her before the winters. We lunged her for the first few days and then managed to ride her for 3 days before the competition. Not exactly the idea preparation but i didn’t have anything to lose, I was just pleased that I had qualified!”

“So we arrived at Hartpury and I have got to say it is an amazing place. Everything was so organised and it had a lovely atmosphere. I was really pleased with how Dora went the day before and her trot work felt really good. In the warm up Dora was really with me. She obviously knew what was happening! The beginning of our test was great especially the medium and extended trots which felt really uphill and she was moving through her shoulder really well. The extended walk was really good but she didn’t feel quite right in the collected walk and a few strides into the canter it was obvious that Dora was not happy so I decided to pull her up and retire rather than push her and possibly hurt her. There is always another day and it has definitely made me more determined to qualify again for next year! I also got the chance to watch another WOW Saddle rider, Lesley Peyton-Gilbert in the evening gala performance which was great to see the riders riding through the higher level movements and showed me what I am aiming for (in a couple of years anyway!)”

Dora Keysoe 2014
“After that it turned out she had tweaked a muscle, so I did light work with her for a while. I had entered Keysoe premier league and Dora felt good when I started the more demanding movements so I decided to take her with the aim of doing a safe test. On the first day was the team test and I achieved my aim of getting round the test and I felt it was a good test to get Dora’s confidence up after the last competition. Unfortunately we didn’t get a great score as I feel I didn’t ride her particularly well. So bearing that in mind I focused on the individual test the next day. She was a lot more supple and responsive to my aids the next day and this showed in the test, especially the trot work. We still have areas to improve on. I overrode the changes which meant that some were late behind, but we ended up in 5th place which I was really pleased with for our first premier league of the season!”

“It has been great to be able to watch the WOW Saddles sponsored event riders at Badminton this weekend. Congratulation to all riders as it looked like a pretty tough XC course! At home, I have been really focusing on getting Sid to stay in a steady contact. His counter canter is really balanced now and the leg yields are becoming increasingly fluent and he is showing so much talent. I’m looking forward to taking him out to a local competition this weekend so I will tell you how it goes in my next blog! Also, I have finally decided to open a twitter account! Taken my time 😉 My twitter name is @IzzyCDressage so if you want to keep up to date with what is happening, follow me. Hopefully my next blog will have a few more results. Fingers crossed!”

Sid May 2014

Ask Francis: What is the secret to soft hands?

WOW Sponsored rider, Francis Whittington answers a Facebook fan’s question about keeping hands soft.

Q. Francis is known for having very soft hands (which is always so nice to see). I appreciate there is no simple answer to having such a ‘giving’ style but could you please ask him if it came naturally to him or was it something he spotted as a youngster in his pony days and developed ? Marc Melander

A. I was lucky enough to receive training from some amazing trainers when I was younger. They were tough on me and if I got it wrong they made it clear!

One person who helped me with my style of riding for cross country and show jumping was my show jumping trainer. Most will have heard of him as he is the current boss of the British Show Jumping team, Rob Hoekstra. I had a lot of training from Rob as a kid. Starting when I was 6 or 7 years old. Although I don’t see him that often now as he is so busy, his words and advice still play an important part in my riding and understanding of how I should ride. It was important to use body control rather than fight with the hands. To teach the horses to listen to our body and allow the horse the hand when needed. There are obviously times where it is necessary to take a firmer contact and I’m sure you will see the odd occasion at Badminton next week. For me there are three basic points to remember. Rhythm, Balance, Control. You only ever need two of them to achieve the third!

Francis Whittington riding SIR PERCIVAL III

If you have a question for Francis then get in touch via Facebook or Twitter.

Another reason to love Badminton Horse Trials!

This is a great video showing all the best bits from the 2011 Badminton Horse Trials. The video includes Oliver Townend, Caroline Powell, Mary King, Paul Tapner, Emily Baldwin, Piggy French, Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch, Ruth Edge and many more!

Feel free to add your favourite videos.

Why we love Badminton Horse Trials

This is a great bit of footage from the 2011 Badminton Horse Trials. Paul Tapner talks you through his ride around the Mitsubishi Motors cross country course via full helmet cam footage used to compliment the TV coverage. Paul talks us through every fence, his strategy for riding the course, and his thoughts on his way round.

Vouchers for Badminton

We were so disappointed to hear that Badminton Horse Trials has been cancelled this year primarily for all our sponsored riders who have worked so hard to be there.  We realise that for a lot of people Badminton is a social and shopping highlight of the year.

For WOW saddles, Badminton is an important start to the season where we can showcase our new designs, which this year we had so many to show!

I am disappointed for my staff who have put so much effort into being ready for the show for it to come to naught.  We took the opportunity of offering a discount on our WOW saddles to all those coming to Badminton and we know that clients were coming specifically to take advantage of this offer.  For all those disappointed people we would like to honour the voucher in Horse and Hound.  So if you keep the voucher and present it to your retailer we shall honour the discount for all Horse & Hound readers.

David Kempsell

Managing Director


Paul Tapner at The Badminton Horse Trials

Our sponsored rider Paul Tapner, recorder this footage at The Badminton Horse Trials from his head-cam! The footage shows Paul riding cross-country, complete with a full commentary from him as he re-lives every step. A great way to learn and a fascinating insight…

Badminton Horse Trials 2012

A brief history

When London last hosted the Olympic Games in 1948 the 10th Duke of Beaufort was President of the Institute of the Horse and Pony Club which was charged with organising the Equestrian competitions on behalf of the FEI. The Three Day Event, with the Cross Country held behind the RMA Sandhurst on Barossa common, was deemed a medal opportunity for the home team, steeped in hunting and racing history.

Sadly it didn’t work out that way during the week of 9th-14th of August. Only two British riders finished: Major Borwick and Liberty in 17th place and Brigadier Bolton on Sylveste,27th. The Duke decided that he would offer his park at Badminton to run an event of Olympic specifications in order to give British riders match practice. Billed as ‘ The most Important Horse Event in Great Britain.’ , the first Badminton Horse Trials ran in April 1949.

With the Olympics returning to London, and Equestrian sports no longer out on a limb at some distant venue, but at the centre of things in Greenwich Park, Badminton Horse Trials will be supporting Equestrian Team GBR’s fund raising efforts for the British intetrnational teams of today and the future . The Trials, which run from 3rd-7th May now hosts riders from all over the world, who will be using it as a final attempt to impress their selectors and Team GBR will have a major presence on site London 1948 spawned Badminton. Badminton 2012 is returning the compliment.

Read the full article by clicking here

Our sponsored riders Paul Tapner, Francis Whittington and Kitty King will all be at The Badminton Horse Trials.

Do you which of our sponsored riders mentioned above features in this picture?