The countdown is on

In just four weeks time the action kicks off at this year’s Defender Blair Castle International Horse Trials. General admission prices start at £18 per person for one day, plus parking or, for a more luxurious visit, there is a range of hospitality options offering a delicious three-course lunch in the VIP pavilion and much more.

Eventing classes run from national level 90cms up to four-star, and include two grassroots Scottish Championships. The five international levels attract many of the best riders in the UK, including Olympic and world medalists; entries are now open. Throw in British Showjumping, showing, heavy horses and Pony Club mounted games and there is something to appeal to all horse lovers.

The action-packed schedule at Blair is enough to thrill the hardiest eventing and countryside fan – there will be live music and The Old Nag Whisky Lounge by Spirit of Perthshire and Robertsons of Pitlochry will return, featuring tastings and sales of some of today’s top distillers and independent bottlers.

Blair is renowned for its shopping opportunities, with something for all tastes and budgets: bespoke jewellery, fine art, country and casual clothing, everything for horses and hounds, horseboxes, 4x4s… and that’s before visiting the food hall, with handmade chocolates, delicious shortbread, artisan cheeses, baked goods, chutneys and craft gins – and so much more. The dedicated ‘Heart of the Highlands’ area showcases fantastic Scottish small and local businesses, supporting the communities that help to make Blair Castle Horse Trials such a great event.

Away from the shopping, the very popular Land Rover Experience is returning. A specially designed course offers visitors the chance to see exactly what these vehicles are capable of from the passenger seat – sitting beside a skilled instructor, obviously!

Blair is again offering cross-country walks on the Thursday and Friday with a leading trainer or rider. Participants can learn how the pros view the fences, walk distances and the lines they plan to ride, straight from the horse’s mouth. Tickets are available on the Blair website.

Volunteers are still being recruited with a multitude of equestrian and non-equestrian roles available. Camping, admission and meals while volunteering will all be provided and it’s a fantastic way of being part of ‘behind the scenes’ and the running of the event. Visit the volunteers page on the Blair website for more information.

Assistant Event Director Nicky Townshend has her sights set firmly on the start of the action. “At this time of the year it is slightly a case of spinning plates, but well-laid plans mean that everything is coming together, and the whole team is looking forward to welcoming riders, owners, spectators, sponsors, volunteers and traders.”

Scotland is famous for its stunning scenery, superb food and drink, and friendly hospitality, making it the perfect holiday destination. And you can get there without flying!