Petplan Equine Area Festivals: The finals beckon

Petplan Equine Area Festivals: The finals beckon

Charlotte Barber, winner of the Petplan Equine High Achiever Award for her performance in the Novice Open at the annual Petplan Equine Area Festival Finals held at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire in April 2016. Supplied by Petplan.


Petplan Equine is looking back on an amazing summer of competition at the Petplan Equine Area Festivals 2016. The seventeen major dressage competitions have taken place around the country from Aberdeen to Cornwall giving grassroots riders the opportunity to achieve qualification for the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships, which are held at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire from 12-16 April 2017.

“The Area Festivals give amateur riders a real taste of what a top level dressage competition is like,” said Kate Hopkins, Marketing Executive at Petplan Equine. “Open to all, the Area Festivals are incredibly well supported and this year have involved over 4,000 horse and rider combinations.  We have so many stories to tell about the competitors and every year we see an even greater range of horses and riders.  The competitions do truly have a ‘festival’ atmosphere and our plans for the 2017/18 season ensure that the Petplan Equine Area Festivals will be even bigger and better next year.”

To compete at the Petplan Equine Area Festivals you need to  be a member of British Dressage (BD), but non-members can qualify on ‘Class Tickets’ (temporary BD membership for one class, costing only £8), providing that they become a full British Dressage member after successfully obtaining their qualifying scores.

From eight year old Demi Howard-Cartwright and her pony Arad Sapphire, known as Saffy, to Lucy Butterworth and her 18.2hh big, friendly giant Zavier, the experience of an Area Festival is a huge thrill for all horse and rider combinations.  Demi, who rode at two Area Festivals this summer intends to keep working to better her personal best of 10th place in the Preliminary section of the competition: “Saffy is a brilliant pony and I wouldn’t have made 10th place without her. I have put lots of work in though and I’m sure it showed – I was so pleased with her,” she commented.

Lucy has been working toward the Petplan Equine Area Festivals for a long time; she said, “I have had Zavier since he was three and we have trained hard together so I was really proud of our score. The Petplan Equine Area Festivals give you the opportunity to compete at a top dressage competition which otherwise would only be accessible to professional riders – they are open to all so it’s great to have the chance to be in the spotlight!”

Petplan Equine has long been associated with this sponsorship and is dedicated to supporting riders at all levels in achieving success. To help riders progress with their dressage, Petplan Equine features helpful advice from top dressage judge Lindsay Jenkins and international dressage rider Charlie Hutton via videos on their website, accessible to all competitors regardless of whether they managed to qualify this year. Petplan Equine hopes this invaluable guidance will enable aspiring dressage riders to succeed.  

British Dressage’s Chief Executive, Jason Brautigam said: “Once again the Petplan Equine Area Festivals have surpassed all expectations.  They’ve grown into one of the most popular events with our members, as they offer so many riders their own chance to experience ‘the big time’.  It really has become one of the sport’s mainstay activities each year.

“We sent over 6,500 emails to 3,300 qualified riders – that’s 23% of our membership who could compete at an Area Festival.  I’d like to thank Petplan Equine for their dedication to the series, 15 years of sponsorship demonstrates real commitment and we’re very grateful for their ongoing contribution. Next season will see a new chapter for this dressage favourite, with a total of 26 Area Festivals and eight regional finals, culminating in the Championships at Hartpury.  We are very much looking forward to the next phase of evolution of the Area Festivals, with the generous support of Petplan Equine.”

To find out more information about this exciting competition and plans for the 2017/18 series please visit our website: