If there is one area of Scotland renowned for it's love of country pursuits it is Perthshire. It is therefore no surprise that Scotland's leading equestrian event is held here. The Blair Castle International Horse Trials take place over several days with the lush green grounds of the Atholl Estate and the pretty white castle providing a very picturesque backdrop.
The Trials test the ability of the horses and riders in dressage, cross country and show jumping and those competing must be highly skilled in all three disciplines. The three part event has been compared to an equine triathlon and has evolved from a military event which required the horse and rider to parade with elegance, gallop cross country in battle and have the stamina to continue on demanding days. I attended for the first time this weekend which marked the 26th year of the event at Blair Castle.
I should make clear that I am in no way an expert in the techniques required to score points and win awards at an equine event like this, although I did learn that the winner is determined by the horse and rider combination with the lowest score. Even a novice like myself could still appreciate the dexterity of the riders and their steeds with participants ranging from Olympic medalists to amateurs competing for the first time, all keen to show off their skills in the sport.
With several arenas there was plenty going on and I enjoyed watching everything from a jousting demonstration to show jumping. The show jumping in particular was compelling to view and as each horse and rider approached a fence I found myself willing them over and joined in with the crowd clapping each successful jump.
The equine action in the arenas was closely followed by the shopping action at more than 200 trade stands which made up the huge (and I really mean huge!) shopping village. Although the range of horse themed goodies were plentiful, there was something for everyone including clothing, home-wares, jewellery and art.
I had been invited to the event by Joules who had their own pop up shop selling a selection of their countryside and equestrian inspired clothing range which included the official Blair Castle Horse Trials polo shirt.
The Bruadar Country Fair also runs on Saturday and Sunday which provides plenty of non-equine related entertainment including falconry, dog displays and the highly entertaining quack commandos duck and sheepdog show. I also came across some prize winning tractors and I'm sure that I have developed an unnatural interest in tractors since moving to a rural area last year as I spent way too long admiring them!
There was certainly something to keep most people entertained and many visitors had brought chairs and picnics to make a full day of it. It is also a very dog friendly event and at times I wondered if the dogs might even outnumber the humans as they were everywhere! You certainly don't need to be a horse expert to attend the event and have fun but you would need some interest in them as you might get quite bored otherwise.
If you want to experience a country themed event in the heartland of Scottish country pursuits then the Blair Castle Horse Trials ticks all the boxes.
Find out more about the Blair Castle Horse Trials on their website http://www.blairhorsetrials.co.uk/
I was invited as a guest of Joules, however all opinions and experiences are my own. You can view the equestrian range of Joules clothing at http://www.joules.com/Womens-Clothing/Equestrian
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