How to get into British Eventing

Now that the eventing season is drawing to a close, there may be a few of you who feel inspired to get out there and give eventing a try. But becoming a part of this sport and joining it’s governing body, British Eventing, can be confusing. So, how do you know when to start eventing? And, when is the right time to join British Eventing?
My journey into eventing started when I bought an ex-Novice horse, Ziggy, who needed to come back down the levels due to his age. Truthfully, I didn’t really have a choice to do anything other than event! Ziggy hated dressage and wasn’t the best showjumper either, but he adored cross country and came alive in this phase. He introduced me to Pony Club eventing and took me from 70cm to Pony Club Intermediate within a year. I quickly became addicted to the thrill of eventing and decided to join British Eventing (BE), but unfortunately Ziggy became injured and could no longer compete.
Fast forward a couple of years and I had bought myself a young, green horse, called Dillon, to produce to event. I decided that I wanted to join British Eventing with him . I had been to a couple of clinics run by British Eventing that helped me make my decision. The clinics are brilliant as you are able to access training from BE accredited instructors at top facilities; clinics range from cross country, to showjumping, to flatwork. They really helped me to feel confident in my choice to join British Eventing. Both members and non-members can attend clinics, so I’d definitely recommend them to anyone curious about joining BE.
Once I felt ready to start eventing with Dillon I knew it was time to do an unaffiliated event. The most important thing that I would recommend to anyone wanting to join British Eventing is to start by trying out some unaffiliated events first. These are a cheaper way to dip your toes into the sport of eventing, and also include less pressure as scores aren’t recorded online. Dillon and I started by doing an 80cm Hunter Trial (where you just do the showjumping and cross country) and we enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided to take on the next challenge. I decided to enter the 80cm class at our first unaffiliated one-day event at Munstead. I chose Munstead because their cross country is run over the same course that they use for all their British Eventing competitions, so I was able to get the ‘real deal’ without needing to be a part of BE yet.
Our first event at Munstead was very successful and I had definitely caught the eventing bug! So, I decided to take the plunge and sign Dillon and I up to join British Eventing.
There are different types of memberships, but if you’re wanting to compete you will have to register for a paid membership for both horse and rider. However, this can be quite expensive, so there are other ways you can experience British Eventing for less. Alongside full memberships, British Eventing also offer ‘supporter memberships’, which gives you access to yard visits and educational talks, and it lets you gain free entry to events up to 2* for a discounted price. It’s a great way to experience what BE is about without too much commitment.
You can also volunteer at any British Eventing event whether you’re a member or not – this is a fantastic way to experience the sport and gain a first-hand insight into what BE is all about. Volunteering could involve anything from fence judging, dressage writing, score keeping or being in charge of the showjumping collecting ring. Before I joined BE my mum and I had volunteered a couple of times. I enjoyed it a lot and from seeing a competition in action. I was also able to walk around the event to see what the layout was like, and how the competition ran. I felt such a buzz watching other riders compete that I knew it was time for me to sign up! Volunteering is not only good fun but you can learn a lot from it, and it gave me a great idea about what to expect from a competition run by British Eventing.
I have now been competing through British Eventing for 3 years and have loved every second of it. The events are so well run and the courses, grounds, and facilities are maintained to the highest standard. I’m so glad I joined as it’s so much fun to be part of this sport! If anyone is looking to get involved I would definitely encourage you to explore BE a bit more, and I hope I’ve been able to give you some good pointers on how to get started!
- Issy (@zigzageventing)