Thursday, January 13, 2011

Badminton Grassroots Championship

In the past few years, British Eventing has started a series of "grassroots" level competitions in the UK that has given a wider range of eventers the chance to compete. This proves to acknowledge in Britain what the U.S. has come to realize very well: that the majority of the competing eventers that comprise our sport are at the "grassroots" of eventing....the lower, amateur levels. Previously, BE-sanctioned competitions started around the pre-novice level (roughly the equivalent of the American training level). Now, BE offers lower levels BE80 (about the same as the American beginner novice level), BE90 (somewhere between American BN and novice), and BE100 (in between American N and training levels).

These levels have various competitions around the UK and riders can qualify for the Badminton Grassroots Championship by winning or performing well at regional championships (probably about the same as the USEA area championships). I guess the BGC, which is held either concurrently with the Badminton Horse Trials (how cool is that?), or it's held on the weekend before/after the 4-star, is basically the same as our American Eventing Championships (at least for the BN, N, and T levels). Sort of like if the lower levels of AECs were also at the Kentucky Horse Park the same time as Rolex. Wow, that would be something. Not that we don't all compete at KHP in events throughout the year, but what a huge undertaking that would be for every qualified eventer to be riding at Rolex (albeit over very different courses). That would be craziness, I'd imagine. It would be good public exposure for the sport at all levels (not just the 4-star level), but I can't fathom what kind of logistical ordeal that would be. 

Ultimately, I think I like our 4-star and AECs to be separate (as they are). But, how much of a thrill would it be to gallop past Badminton House on your horse over YOUR championship course? For some of us, that would be the stuff dreams are made of!


Montgomery White said...

It is a great event, and there was a real buzz in the stable block last year. If you get the chance to visit, it's well worth it....

Holly said...

I would love nothing better than to visit Badminton! I've never been (never been to the UK, for that matter......until I win the lottery, that probably won't happen!), but it has always been a desire of mine to be there in person some day. I love that the Grassroots Championships are there, which seems to be both a thrill for the BE90, BE100 (and, BE80 in the future, maybe?) riders, but also a really lovely nod to the history of the sport and the deep-seeded reason that almost every one of those riders is an eventer: heritage and tradition. The more I read about this, the more it makes my heart swell. :-)