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As many of you will know, I had a significant birthday earlier this year. . Rather than having a party, I asked the family to club together and buy me and Hal tickets to Badminton Horse Trials. I’ve been twice before, but not for at least 21 years, and I have fantastic memories..I wasn’t at all sure it was a realistic request. It is expensive afterall. Yes, I think there were some folks out there who would hand preferred me to have some kind of massive shindig, but that really isn’t me. Also, there were were one or two, erm, how shall I put this, oh yes, rude and stupid, individuals, who thought that, because I wouldn’t be able to see anything, it was a waste of time and money. You really can’t polish a turd can you?

It did happen, and I’m Monday Hal, Quincey and I arrived home after the most fantastic and enjoyable break. . . The enjoyment started on Wednesday when we arrived at our hotel. We stayed in the Best Western Mayfield House Hotel, In a place called Crudwell. I would definitely stay there again. For a start, Best Western are a dog friendly chain, and Quincey was treated like a valued guest from the Minot his paws crossed the threshold. Yes, you’re right, Guide Dogs are, or at least should be, allowed everywhere. Under the 2010 Equalities Act it is illegal too refuse to accept a Guide Dog, or any of the other registered Assistance Dogs. Sadly though, the law and reality can very often be two very different things. So staying in an already truly dog friendly place like the Mayfield House Hotel makes the experience so much easier all round. Our room was excellent, with the most comfortable hotel bed I’ve ever come across and a proper adult human sized bath in the en suite. The food was excellent too. I was a bit worried as I am vegetarian, and there were only 2 veggie options on the menu, we were staying there for 5 nights. When I commented on this, the chef was consulted, and he came back with 6 extra choices for me, mo hassle!

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On Thursday we went off to Badminton for the first day of dressage. Here again I was anticipating some problems. Badminton advertises itself as a dog friendly event, afterall, most horsy folk also have dogs. However, there are very many excellent reasons why dogs are not allowed into the stands of the main arena, and, to be honest, these reasons apply equally to Guide Dogs as much as they apply to any other dog. . So, even though we had been assured that it would not be a problem when we bought the tickets, I was prepared to be told that Quimcey would not be able to accompany me into the stands. I had a fall back position of leaving him at theGuide Dogs trade stand if this was the case. I need not have worried though. After a brief conversation with the stewards, and their double checking with event control, Q was made very welcome. Bless him, he did not let me down, and behaved like a true professional for the entire time. I did leave him at the stand okay Shanelly, as the seating was quite cramped, and sitting through hours of dressage can be very boring for even the best behaved of dogs. However, when we did go to the stands with out him, The stewards demanded to know where he was, and every time we walked past through out the weekend, we had to stop so they could make a fuss of him. .

On Friday we watched some more dressage, and then walked round the cross country course. Oh my word those jumps are huge! After this we left a tired Quincey at the Guide Dog stand again while Hal and I did some shopping.

Saturday was cross country day. Wow the crowds were huge! At one point, Hal suggested that as we were both getting tired, we leave The cross country course, nip up through the shopping village, and go into the arena and sit down and watch the action on the big screen. Yeh right! We soon abandoned that I idea. It was just impossible to walk through the shopping village it was that crowded! Saturday was the only date we had any difficulty getting in and out of the site. We expected some hold-ups getting in, but it was actually getting out that was the problem. We got in the car at5.30 and did not get back to the hotel until 7.40! Most of this time was spent just sitting in the car park. Apparently there had been an accident somewhere.

Sunday, show jumping day, and the last day of the event. I leftQuincey with Guide Dogs for most of the day because the stands were a lot more crowded, and the crowd are a lot more noisy during showjumping. I don’t know why, but Q doesn’t really like people clapping and cheering, and tends to jump up and start barking loudly when this happens. Hardly ideal. It was also quite warm on Sunday. So I think from his point of you, Quincey had a farr more enjoyable day than he would have had if he stayed with us.

The whole experience of going to the horse trials, and especially the dressage phase, was made extremely accessible to me, byeRadio Badminton. For those who are unaware of this, it is a radio station that is broadcast from the event, and can be picked up via the Internet, on a specific frequency on the radio, and on clever little earpiece radios that they sell on the Showground. I am sure that similar things must occur at other organised sporting events, but this is the first time that I have experienced it, and its brilliant. Dressage is normally done in silence, there is no public address commentary, as this could distract or spook the horses. This means that in general I have absolutely no idea what is going on during a dressage test. However, Radio Badminton had a brilliant and informative dressage commentary being done byePammy Hutton and Peter Storr. They were absolutely amazing. Not only did I know exactly what was going on with each test, but I also learnt and in Norma’s amount! Fabulous! During the cross country phase they had event riders giving the commentary, and again during the showjumping. This really bought the whole event alive for me. So to whoever it was whose ideaRadio Badminton was, and to whoever devised the dinky little earpiece radios, i’d like to extend a huge and heartfelt thank you.

So now we are home, still bathing in the rosy glow of what has felt like a real holiday. So thank you too The combined ranks of the
Watson
Thomas
Mansell
Welsh
And
James
Families for funding the adventure
Amy Gilbert for looking after the horses
Woodhead Woofers for looking after Ripley
Chrissy Woodward for looking after the cats
The Best Western Mayfield House Hotel for being genuinely dog friendly and having a fantastic chef,
The event organisers of badminton horse trials 2017 for being genuinely accessible to people with disabilities.
Radio badminton and all the commentators for that excellent commentary, and especially for explaining and describing the dressage so well
Glenda Webb and all the Guide Dogs staff and volunteers who manned the stand for looking after Quincey
And
Thanks and love to Hal for sharing the adventure and making even more special.