Equine students keen to join our well established and industry valued arena parties have picked up top tips from national show jumping course designer Sue Barratt.

Sue, a very experienced British Showjumping Level 5 (Advanced) course designer and Level 2 judge, gave a series of masterclasses to over 90 diploma students and apprentices when she visited our Equestrian Centre.

Reaseheath’s arena party supports course designers at world class events such as the Horse of the Year Show and Bolesworth International and at horse trials including Kelsall Hill and Somerford Park. These opportunities allow students to gain experience of event management at the highest level and to network with influential individuals and organisations. Around 40 students are selected to join our arena party teams each year.

Sue built international courses at HOYS for 20 years until retiring in 2015 and remains very active designing and judging for show jumping competitions and horse trials on a national level.

Explaining the role of the arena party, she listed the different types of show jumping competitions such as the two phase (two rounds with clears from the first round going through to a second round against the clock to decide the winner), and the various single phase speed classes. She also described the specialist classes put on at major shows such as the puissance, accumulator, take-your-own-line and five bar challenge.

Sue then discussed how to provide a visually attractive layout which combined necessary safety elements while delivering top level audience entertainment. This included the types of fences and different heights and distances which would be applied in novice and more advanced classes, plus the positioning of direction flags and flowers.

Sue emphasised: “The arena party is a vital part of the show team, particularly at the top level which attracts large audiences. If you have the privilege of joining the arena party, your job will be to help the course designer get the course built as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s essential that you have spatial awareness, a thorough knowledge of health and safety and that you are reliable and punctual.

“In return you’ll have some amazing experiences, meet leading riders and network with professionals.”

Equine Programme Leader James Rayner said: “Reaseheath is recognised for embracing the need for students to get a real taste of what the industry requires on a practical level. Opportunities such as learning from a national course builder like Sue and joining our arena parties allows our students to add to their skills and gives them important knowledge should they want to run events of their own.”

Find out about our Equine courses here.