How to Have a Ten Star Five Star

Unlike most Americans, my first four star five star experience was not Kentucky. It was actually a little event in the tiny, thatched cottage town of Little Badminton

Maybe you've heard of it...

But this year, I get to cross another five star off of my Muck Bucket List, and I'm heading down to Kentucky (Sara in tow) for a somewhat-bachelorette-mostly-horse-filled weekend.

While the two events are almost 4,000 miles apart, I'm assuming they'll have more than a few similarities that will allow me to reuse some tips and have a second chance at some mistakes to make sure I have the Best Weekend All Year.

Tip #1: Drive Carefully
You don't want to get a flat tire and end up missing the jogs. Ask me how I know.

I think it's time to bring back the

Tip #2: Eat (and drink!) something local
The Brits actually have this down, as nothing is better on a sunny, brisk spring day than Pimm's in one hand and the ultra portable meat pie in the other. My favorite food in the world is fried chicken, and I love whisky, so I'm imagining that Kentucky will have plenty to offer me.

Tip #3: Get up close and personal with some Real Big Jumps
The draw of an event of this caliber is the cross country. I highly recommend at some point during your trip (but preferably not while people are galloping at the jumps) you get up close and personal with what these riders are really doing. Standing in the giant ditch in front of a Weldon's Wall, stretching your fingertips and failing to touch each side is equal parts horrifying and awe inspiring.

Tip #4a: Stay through to the end
I'm sure many folks only come for the cross country and then begin their long trips home without watching a single stadium jump being jumped. I was so glad I stayed through to the end to witness the Parade of Champions, nail biting jumping finale, presentation of awards and victory gallop.

When else do you get to see Pippa Funnell???

Tip #4b:.... and watch some dressage
My biggest regret from Badminton was that I didn't take at least Friday to go see some dressage. No, I don't need (or want) to see all fifty or so competitors do the test. But I wish I had seen at least a handful. It feels incomplete to have gone to a three day event and not partaken in all three days.

Tip #5: Pick someone to root for
You want to be on the edge of your seat. I got lucky in that there were no US riders at Badminton the year I went, so I got completely swept up in the crowd and rooted for William Fox Pitt. Everyone seemed to unanimously agree that it was his turn in 2015, and you could've cut the tension in the arena with a clipper blade during his round. From the fawning teenage girls in front of me to the gruff, elderly man who sat beside me, every fist was clenched and pair of eyes riveted on Chilli Morning.

Plz note behind him the person I was really rooting for... Ingrid Klimke OF COURSE

I'm hoping and crossing all my crossables that this is the year for an American to win our own event again, and I'm already so excited I can hardly wait!!!!


  1. eeeee it's going to be so much fun! and totally agreed on all points, esp the local eats / drinks part haha. bourbon flights for er'ryone!! and yea i've gone down for both days of dressage before and felt like it wasn't super additive to the experience, tho we're going down early again this year just to get in that extra shopping time haha. also have you considered going to the grand prix on friday night? i we watched the warm up last year and it was super interesting, and i think we got tickets this time around (they're super cheap)

    1. I'm not sure I'd need BOTH days of dressage but I wish I had seen a little bit of it. Just because I went all that way and at least for the overseas events I will probably never get to go back...

    2. aw, never say never tho! my barn owner just went to burghley a year or two ago and she's in her 80s haha. i definitely want to get to one of the big tracks across the pond at some point. i think burghley is the top of my list, but honestly i'd take any of them lol

  2. I surprisingly like watching the dressage in person. I get bored with livestream, but in person was pretty exciting! For KY, I'd definitely recommend the headsets- the woman who does the commentary is pretty entertaining. Wish I was going this year, I hope you and Sara have a BLAST

    1. definitely!! that was tip #6 not shown on this list - I got the headset at badminton and it was essential.

  3. We have to meet up while we’re there!!!!!

  4. I've never been to a big event but it sounds like fun!


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