Equestrian Residential Camp! - Hurstpierpoint College

Equestrian Residential Camp!

Hurst Equestrian hosted its first-ever residential camp at the end of April. The residential was a four-day camp at Hickstead Showground from Friday through to Monday. 11 Hurst Equestrian students and their horses stayed and had a variety of different activities to revel in, including training across the disciplines and talks on various equestrian topics.

Day one started with flatwork lessons for the students with their international dressage rider Melissa Beer and regular Hurstpierpoint Coach and international eventer Harriet Upton. The camp had some immediate success with one of the camp’s youngest riders, Lars D who is in year 6, achieving his first-ever sitting canter and earning himself a gold star.

Day two of the residential trip was the first full day and students had a very full itinerary for the day. After morning stables the students had a talk from top equine dentist Duncan Gipson. Duncan taught the students the importance of regular equine dental care by using a cast of a horse’s skull. Meanwhile, the older students were able to see a young horse that recently arrived at Hickstead, receive dental treatment. In addition, the students were able to feel the horse’s teeth for themselves with student Luca C very bravely volunteering to pull loose a cap from the young horse’s mouth! The younger students really engaged with Duncan, asking lots of questions.

After this, the students went on to have showjumping lessons with jumper Ash-diva Boyce and regular Hurstpierpoint Coach and international eventer Harriet Upton. Multiple students came back to the yard enthusiastically talking about their lessons, with Chessie M saying, ‘it was one of the best jumping lessons she’d ever had!’ The afternoon saw everyone gather for group lunge lessons where students took turns riding a horse being lunged, as the instructor has control of the horse the rider was able to focus on other things. Students were riding the horses without stirrups, reins, with their arms out to the side, and their eyes closed! Harriet even had students jumping a small fence with no reins and their eyes closed, this forced the rider to feel changes in the horse’s gait to know when they were about to take off over a fence.

Once evening stables were done and dinner eaten, Team Coach Harriet Upton gave an amazing talk about her career in eventing. It was very inspiring to hear of her journey from her first pony all the way through to representing GB and riding horses for the Queen, and now the King.

Day three was cross-country day with students having a training session in the morning, split into two groups with Harriet taking one, and eventing trainer Candice Dunlop taking the other. Students were taught about combinations such as drop fences, ditches, and water. Some of the riders had not jumped cross country before so this was all new to them, but all students rose to the occasion and jumped very well. After lunch, students returned to the cross-country arenas for a competition. Points were awarded for completing the course without any faults and for style. All students rode incredibly well, drawing on what they had learned in the morning. Two students produced excellent rounds and achieved top marks and joint 1st – a huge well done to Lyla YJ and Morten D. The camps youngster participant, Rosie YJ who is in year 5, did a beautiful round and came 2nd, and Olivia S jumped very well and achieved 3rd.

On the final and fourth day of the camp, students made the short journey to Pook Bourne Stud. The stud is where international show jumper Shane Breen runs his breeding program. Students were given a tour by stud manager Badr Al Omran. They were able to see young horses which could be tomorrow’s superstars. There was even a young foal there who had been born the night before. Badr talked students through the management of the stud, the horses, and how they run the breeding program. They were able to see the equipment that the stud uses to collect, store, and freeze seamen from the stallions. They also had the opportunity to look at samples under a microscope. It was a very interesting morning and showed students about the incredible amount of work and thought that goes into breeding and producing competition horses.

For the final activity of the camp top dressage groom, Sally gave students a talk on how to plait a horse’s mane for competition. Following a demonstration students plaited their own horses with advice and help from Sally where needed. The plaits were judged, and Sally awarded 1st place to Scarlet SH, 2nd to Emma P, 3rd to Theo T, and 4th to Olivia S who all produced excellent plaits. A special mention must go to Theo as this was the first plait he had ever done in a horse’s mane, and it was pretty much perfect!

The weekend was a huge success and was enjoyed by all. Students behaved well and cared for their horses to a very high standard. Many showed themselves to be very kind and helpful, with students helping each other with things they were unsure about. Emma P deserves a special mention for how well she looked out for younger students. It was wonderful to see students and their horses bond over the weekend.

Well done to all students who attended the residential camp, we are already looking forward to running it again next year!

The weekend was a huge success, and all students grew in confidence and ability over the course of the camp. Tracey Pargeter, Head of Equestrian