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From the USA to Blenheim – just for fun!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - 13:15

The first Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials fun ride ran at Blenheim Palace in 2012. It was a huge success and has grown in popularity ever since.

Straight after the international event, 300 “every day” riders are able to enjoy some of the private roads and tracks of the Blenheim Estate - with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to ride in the hoofprints of their heroes.

Riders come from all over the country to enjoy this ride, and this year we had a rider who flew all the way from the United States to take part!

Theresa Sanders describes her experience.


“I came a long way from the States to ride the Blenheim Palace Fun Ride and it was completely worth it! I suspected it was going to be an amazing experience and it proved true. The thought of being able to ride along the very same grounds where amazing, world-class eventers had just competed was beyond exciting.

I knew this was a unique opportunity for a number of reasons. I had to make it happen! After coming across the possibility of obtaining tickets a few months before the trials, I immediately signed up for two slots. I had no idea who would go with me, how I would get there, nor how I would find a horse, but I had the tickets!

While I knew of friends who would love to share this amazing opportunity with me, the timing didn’t work out. But I was prepared to go on my own rather than miss out.

Next step was to find a horse. By word of mouth from Robert Prior of Liberty Trails/Dartmoor Derby, I was given the name of a nearby yard who could offer a hireling for the day. I gave them a call to explain the ride and they were happy to offer a horse - it actually all fell into place quite easily. Turns out I offered my extra ticket to the hireling yard and they took me up on it. We would plan to ride out together!

I flew in to Heathrow a few days prior and acclimatised while enjoying a couple of days in London and a charming village in the Cotswolds. The morning of the fun ride finally arrived and I was SO ready!

I headed out to the Blenheim grounds to watch Zara Tindall, William Fox-Pitt, and Kim Severson, just to name a few of the incredibly talented riders.  

After spending the morning watching those fabulous horses and riders, my afternoon start time for the fun ride was up. My mount was a lovely, forward-going guy with a good set of brakes. I felt very comfortable with the surroundings due to the outstanding organisation of the event.

Getting out there and riding the course grounds myself, seeing it first-hand was unreal! I couldn’t believe I was out there riding across this historic, breath-taking course. I had studied and read about Winston Churchill and was thrilled to be on the stunning grounds of his birthplace. 

I was also thrilled to be out on such a wide-open, spectacular part of the world. While I follow the eventing world, my equestrian discipline is very much based within a hunter jumper show ring, so having the opportunity to ride outside a ring across a stunning cross-country course was beyond exciting!

The fact that the setting was a combination of fascinating history and the sport that I’m so passionate about was a perfect match. We trotted and cantered through magical forests, galloped up sweeping hills, and even marched across the famous water crossing!  I truly believe my horse enjoyed it just as much as I did. I think horses also really enjoy a change of scenery with time out of the ring. By the end of the course, we were happily tired yet ecstatic about the gorgeous ride we had just finished. To preserve my fond memories of this super fun afternoon, I purchased a few of the professional photos. I actually didn’t know that the photographer was there at the water crossing, so the smile on my face is quite natural and not provoked just by the camera! As a matter of fact, I know I was smiling throughout the ride and still smile to this day when I think back on it. I would do it again in a heartbeat.


The 2018 fun ride entries will open in April 2018 via