The Horses Award goes to Eric Winter. For me Eric was our horses hero of Badminton 2019. He achieved what has never been done in the history of Badminton - in my opinion - Challenged Riders NOT Horses. Make no mistake, for every horse out there, Badminton HT is the hardest physical and mental challenge in the world, because of the intensity and influence of each jumping challenge...load on load so all together? The greatest challenge in the world, and todays statistics demonstrated this. Eric why are you our horses winner? Because you sought out challenging riders over horses. You challenged rider relationships with their horses - mainly clarity of communication. By challenging competitors relationship with their horse's we all got to witness horsemanship mastery. Congragulations Eric - you showed everyone a different vision for eventing - a vision that is now a reality - keep horses safe guarded at the highest level. Yes there will be some sore and tired horses tonight, that is the sport of endurance, for humans and equestrian athletes...finish fatigued, sore, aching - you have put it all 'out there' on the course. But in my opinion, sport is not about sacrificing your life. Loosing any life in sport, human or equine is not acceptable. Thank you Erick for placing our spotlight on horse sports ENRICHING our horses, let eventing keep progressing and demonstrating like today why Eventing can gain its Social Licence to Operate.
Oliver Townsend wins The Self Improvement Award on Cross Country day. I don't think I need to explain this one. Just watch his first ride around the course. Watch how he brings home a tired horse, pace over pushing. Thats how you ride a tired horse home. Compare that to last years tired horse. The progress and improvement 12 months apart is being the change our horses need - well done Oliver.
William Fox-Pitt wins Eventing Enrichment Award. Watch again his second round as his horse looks to me in a 'positive mental state' - facial expressions may be he is being enriched around the course....we don't know today...but we will one day, as science keeps progressing welfare forwards. I am definitely keen to see more horses enriched by our sport. Thank you William and Oratorio for giving us the vision of an enriched event horse at Badminton.
Technical Innovation - Eventing leads the way with the invention of the FRANGIBLE PIN. What a welfare WIN. For horse. For rider. A perfect 11 penalties. Take a bow to all who invented, developed and believed in progressing courses with technology. You have all literally saved lives. I take sore horses in tomorrow mornings trot up, over injuries or fatalities. Thank you all involved and keep involved in the safety of eventing.
Distance Travelled Award. Both Japanese riders blew me away by the distance travelled in such a short space of time. Toshiyuki Tanaka was show jumping 4 years ago, 3 years ago did his first ever horse trials, Novice and today completed Badminton Horse Trials. I find both Japanese riders inspiring, through the attention to detail they place on themselves and their horses. Being the change is as easy as Toshiyuki makes it...