More than 20 residents from seven care homes in Dorset and Wiltshire enjoyed luxury VIP treatment at a well-known equestrian show.
Colten Care laid on minibus travel, a champagne welcome, picnic lunches, strawberry cream teas and ‘the best seats in the house’ over the two-day Portman Horse Trials.
Parties of residents were enabled to move between two viewing positions, one for cross country and one for show jumping and dressage.
The excursions to the Rushmore Estate at Tollard Royal on the Wiltshire-Dorset border were an extra special treat for former competitive rider Susie Woodhouse.
A resident at Abbey View in Sherborne, Susie launched the trials in 1976 and was instrumental in their development and success. It was the first time she had been able to return in five years.
As part of a wider package of support this year, Colten Care was one of the cross-country fence sponsors.
When show announcers mentioned this over the tannoy, they invited friends of Susie to drop by and say hello.
Susie’s daughter-in-law Tessa Woodhouse said: “It’s absolutely brilliant that Susie was able to come back and enjoy the trials she started all those years ago. It was her life for such a long time and her name is synonymous with it. I cannot praise Abbey View enough and my thanks go to Colten Care for supporting this year’s event.”
Recalling her involvement as founder, Susie said: “It was a lot of work and you were always worrying if you had forgotten something but it was great fun. If a course is well built and maintained, you will get good riders. The first event attracted great publicity as the Princess Royal, or Princess Anne as she was then, was one of the competitors. Since then the trials have grown enormously from a novice one-day event to include intermediate and advanced classes.”
Also making a visit was Abbey View resident and equestrian Sam Ayres, a former judge at the Horse of the Year Show.
As well as Abbey View, residents travelled from Colten Care’s Whitecliffe House in Blandford, Brook View in West Moors, Amberwood House in Ferndown, Castle View in Dorchester, Newstone House in Sturminster Newton and Braemar Lodge in Salisbury.
Colten Care Activities Organiser Jo London said: “We’re thrilled to have created a VIP experience, adding value to the event and giving our residents the best seats in the house. Everyone said it was a wonderful experience and we hope to be able to go again next year.”
The Portman Horse Trials help world class riders prepare for international events such as Badminton and Burghley while giving less experienced challengers a taste of dressage, show jumping and cross country. This year’s event attracted 530 entries. Among those taking part were Olympians William Fox-Pitt and Mary King MBE.