Harden Horse Trials 2024 Wrap Up

Natalie Blundell rides Quality Kracken to win the CNC1* eventing at Harden Horse Trials 2024 | An Eventful Life
Natalie Blundell and Quality Kracken
Harden Horse Trials – order or view cross country videos here

Last weekend marked a dual celebration for the committee members of Harden Horse Trials as they commemorated 40 years of the event. The anniversary honoured not only the growth of the club, but also the development of its many riders over the years, including CCI5 Star winner, Natalie (Nat) Blundell and up and coming stars of the future.

Nat can certainly agree that there is no place like home, as she and her ride Quality Kraken were the winners of the CCN1*-S at the 2024 Harden Horse Trials, with a final score of 34.10 penalties, and she also took a win in the EvA65 on board Tarburra Valantia.

Having grown up in Harden, Nat has been a member of the Harden Pony Club since she was four years old. Today, she is the cross country course designer and Club President, following in her parents’ footsteps who not only helped found the club, but also remain as active volunteers at Harden Horse Trials as life members.

A Family Affair

Throughout her career with horses Nat has won the top event in Australia at Adelaide CCI5* and ridden over some of the most impressive courses in the world including Badminton and Burghley Horse Trials. Yet the rider said “it is always a pleasure” to compete at the Harden Horse Trials because it's such a family affair. 

“It’s always a family thing at Harden, I’ve bred a line of palomino horses over the years, and I have ridden them all at Harden.”

Taking second place in the CCN1*-S on 36.80 penalties was Emma Creet, who coincidentally has been Nat’s groom for the last two years. Her ride BHM Black Galaxy was bred by Nat, adding an extra layer of familial connections to this year’s event.

“I was really proud of her… she is still really keen to get that rug, so I said to her ‘you’re going to have to ride better!’ It keeps her to keep striving for it.” Nat said.

Another FEI 4* rider in the winner’s circle was Hannah Klep, who took the top spot in the EvA80B on board Callum Park Florentine

A Picture-Perfect Event

Emily Bowker, Secretary of Harden Horse Trials, said she couldn't have asked for a better weekend as “everything was picture perfect”.

“We had a great band of volunteers who gave up multiple days to help out, the course and the grounds looked amazing, it was a really epic event.”

“For the first time in forty years I even got to tell riders they don't have to wear a jacket in the show jumping and the dressage because it got so warm.”

Helping to make it even more ‘picture-perfect’ was equestrian photographer Britt Grovenor, whose family are also heavily involved on the committee, so there was no better photographer to have on hand!

“It’s my home event” says Britt “I wouldn’t miss it for the world!”

Aleea Evans rides Bunji on cross country at Harden Horse Trials 2024 | An Eventful Life
Aleea Evans and Bunji

Next Generation of Riders

In light of the club’s track record for producing numerous high-level riders, Emily was delighted to see more up and coming Harden club members riding at the event, noting that all their hard work really paid off last weekend.

“We had quite a few junior riders from the area riding, and they all did really well pretty much finishing in the top ten of their classes.”

One of those junior riders was EvA80A winner, Aleea Evans on board Bunji while Amelia Dawson took the honours in the EvA65 Junior class riding Layla. Angela Bevan riding Boldness was another Junior winner in the EvA50 class.

The event not only catered for levels from 50cm to CC1*-S but, thanks to an Eventing New South Wales donation, the committee were able to introduce encouragement awards for both a senior and a junior rider.

With almost two-hundred riders competing on the day, the club also raised enough funds to embark on the next project, including a Matt Ryan clinic due to take place on the first weekend of June.

Confidently, Emily said the event will continue for years to come with a few changes to the cross country course set to take place next year.

“There is lots to look forward to and I look forward to making next year not bigger, but better” says Emily.

Article by Emma Sampson