This Esme talks Blenheim, meeting Laura Collett, her life changing African safari experience and lots more….

Well, 2022 has been a very busy year so far, and I’m loving being able to get out and about again more freely. Like lots of people I’ve had a number of plans that have been on hold for the last two years, but I finally managed to get out to South Africa and Botswana on an incredible life changing adventure in March and April of this year.

I spent an amazing three weeks with Horizon Horseback, riding with giraffe, zebra, elephants and more than the odd lion. Sleeping in everything from the plushest of lodges to having the stars for a ceiling in some beautiful bush camps. An unforgettable experience!

I got back to the UK, just in time to go back to Blenheim Palace for the reception evening for this year’s Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials. It was great to return to the beautiful and imposing Great Hall to look forward to another year at one of my favourite events – I also had a fan girl moment and had a chat with Laura Collett –  off the back of her impressive Badminton win.

Last year I had my first experience of the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials at the invitation of The Jockey Club. I’ve been lucky enough to attend lots of international events and Blenheim is definitely up there with the best in the world. Where else can you enjoy top class equestrian sport in the grounds of a beautiful palace! Not only that but the dining and hospitality was first class. It was great to see Blenheim winner Yasmin Ingham go on to become an incredible second at the Kentucky three-day event earlier this year – the youngest rider in the event. As well, the second place Blenheim combination Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo went onto a hugely impressive second place at this year’s Badminton – there are a lot of top riders to see in action at Blenheim.

This year I’m concentrating on one of my biggest passions which is to encourage equestrianism to a wider more diverse audience. I’ve already filmed and visited Team Tutsham in Kent who provide disadvantaged young people with the opportunity to learn to horse ride, care for horses and socialise with young people of varying ages and backgrounds. Just the other week I filmed at the inspirational Ebony Horse Club who provide riding lessons and much more in the ethnically diverse area of Brixton in South London. I also have a few more schools to visit over the year. These facilities are all charity run and need as much help as possible to bring new riders from all backgrounds into our equestrian community. Our passion and sport cannot survive without newcomers and we should do everything we can to make them welcome. This year The Jockey Club’s charity partner for BPIHT is Abingdon RDA. The Riding for the Disabled Association is close to my heart after I spent some time at my local RDA, as well as filming at the last RDA Nationals competition at Hartpbury. On the Friday following BPIHT – the 23rd September, Abingdon RDA are running their annual sponsored horse ride around Blenheim Palace and the grounds. So, if you are inspired to take your horse around this amazing location, now is your chance!

At home I’ve been working hard with Joey, we’ve been doing a lot of dressage to build up his strength and confidence, even winning a local competition along the way. More recently I’ve been getting him back into jumping with the help of 5 star event rider Felicity Collins who has really brought both of us on so much – she really knows how to bring just the right amount of challenge to the mix, to both push boundaries and gain confidence.

Duke is the newest edition to the stable, he will soon be two and has certainly come out of his shell and settled into the herd. A tiny ‘welshie’ at just 10hh, he was rescued by World Horse Welfare when he was found abandoned just a few days old. I’m providing this little character with a forever home – we’ve started to do some in hand work, and he is a fast learner, though very cheeky with it!

I’m really looking forward to getting back to Blenheim Palace for what is always an amazing weekend. I’ll be holding public meet and greets on the Sunday 18th September. Make sure you read my next blog as I’ll be revealing some more exciting This Esme/BPIHT news!