Thousands are expected to descend on Northumberland this weekend for the return of the Belsay Horse Trials.
The event takes place at Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens today and tomorrow with a host of new attractions for 2014, as well as a wide variety of food, drink and shopping to entertain families.
More than five hundred competitors will compete in the two-day event in classes ranging from BE90 to Open Intermediate.
Laura de Wesselow, co-organiser of Belsay Horse Trials said: “We were overwhelmed with the fantastic response we received to last year’s event but it was a work in progress.
“We have taken on board all the feedback we received and have worked very hard over the past 12 months to make this year’s event even better for competitors and spectators alike.
“We are very grateful to the large army of volunteers who will be making the event possible over the course of the weekend and, of course, to the Trustees of The Belsay Trust, who look after the historic landscape here.”
South Shields-based clothing brand Barbour is sponsoring the event and Dame Margaret Barbour visited Belsay Castle earlier this month to preview the cross country course. She said: “Belsay Horse Trials is an excellent opportunity for us to support an event in our home Northumberland, particularly this year as we celebrate our 120th anniversary.
“The backdrop of the hall, castle and gardens provide a beautiful setting to this event and will enable us to showcase our latest equestrian ranges.”
The schedule for the weekend includes a BE100 Under 18, Open Novice Under 18 and Open Intermediate Under 21 classes and a Novice Regional Final.
A new Intermediate Cross Country course, designed by Ronald Alexander, has been built with bigger and very impressive fences. Course builders Rory Boswell and John Fawlds have also made some changes to the BE90, BE100 and Novice courses, improving ground conditions and putting in take-off and landing pads in some areas.
The Show Jumping Arena has been moved on to higher, drier ground, with the warm-up ring now adjacent to it, while the Show Field, Dressage and Cross Country Courses have been made more accessible and easier for spectators to navigate.
Dressage, Show Jumping and Cross Country run concurrently on both days but there are also a wide range of family attractions on offer with a climbing wall, children’s fairground, pony rides and dog agility. There are catering vans and bars around the Cross Country course, as well as by the main arena, to encourage people to explore Belsay’s beautiful parkland.