Harden Horse Trials celebrates 40 years of eventing

Harden Horse Trials 40th anniversary | An Eventful Life
Anyone recognise the young future 5* rider? Yes, it's Nat Blundell, now cross country course designer at Harden Horse Trials

Cross country eventing videos by An Eventful Life | an-eventful-life.com.au

In small rural communities, the essence of sport extends beyond mere competition.

Located 338km south-west of Sydney lies Harden, a town filled with a passionate equestrian community that exemplifies how the spirit of sport permeates every aspect of rural life. This year, the dedicated committee members who have led the club with passion for generations, are celebrating 40 years of Harden Horse Trials.

Local families with a mutual desire to compete in horse trials started the club in 1984 and this was shortly followed by the first Horse Trials event in 1985.

The current Secretary of Harden Horse Trials, Emily Bowker, has served on the committee for over four years. In chatting with Emily, it is clear how much she appreciates belonging to a community of devoted members, committed to both giving back and enhancing the growth of the sport.

Harden Horse Trials 40th anniversary | An Eventful Life

Keeping the legacy alive

Although the event has evolved over the years, it has retained its status as a cherished tradition for numerous families located throughout New South Wales. A significant portion of the club’s current membership still comprises original committee members and these individuals have helped move the club forward and become lifetime members.

“One of the members is in her 80s and is still the scoring assistant for the Horse Trials!” Emily exclaims. 

The event takes place each year at the Harden Murrumburrah Showgrounds which can host up to two hundred riders. The event is run in conjunction with Harden Pony Club, with whom they share the grounds, and the two committees have created an established EA course that accommodates up to CCN1* level.

“The equestrian community in Harden is quite a close net one, we all support each other in our active disciplines, and I think that's probably the key to the success of Harden Horse Trials” says Emily “It’s the fact that we can work alongside the pony club and everyone else.”

Nat Blundell, Australian eventing rider aged 8 at Harden Horse Trials | An Eventful Life
Nat Blundell aged 10 competing at Harden Horse Trials

The Club’s future

Through the provision of family memberships and the club’s resilience against the impacts of COVID-19, the club have experienced an increase of over thirty members in the past three years. This surge includes a promising influx of ambitious young riders who are beginning to make their way into the eventing scene.

“We are really lucky that the next wave of current committee members have all got children. So, they are actively taking part of working bees and game days, picking up sheets and poles, that sort of thing” explains Emily.

“We try and harvest this culture where it exists because everyone pitches in and does their bit.”

Opportunities and achievements

In addition to the Horse Trials, the club have expanded its offerings by hosting clinics including Young Rider and Amateur Owner clinics to provide more opportunities for riders. Additionally, the club do their best to support local families, exemplified by the sale of old jumps to facilitate training for local families.

“We have a real focus on growing that grass roots level of eventing” Emily remarks. 

Forty years of competition is undoubtedly a fantastic achievement, a milestone that has everyone involved with the event swelling with pride.

“I think it's a huge achievement, given the small community that we are from, to keep it going for such a long time without losing the passion to keep performing, and keep on providing competitions.”

The committee members of Harden Horse Trials are looking forward to welcoming back new and returning competitors to the 2024 Harden Horse Trials, which is set take place on the 27th and 28th of April.

An Eventful Life is filming all competitors on cross country at Harden Horse Trials this weekend – we’ll see you there and smile at the video camera!

Article by Emma Sampson