Badminton Horse Trials

Badminton Horse Trials

Badminton Horse Trials

Now in its 73rd year, the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials returns in 2022 after a two-year break. Badminton fever has probably hit may equestrians already. Read our blog to find out everything you need to know.

What is Badminton Horse Trials?

Badminton is one of only six annual 5 Star CCIs (Concours Complet International) horse trials in the world where stars are according to their level of difficulty, i.e. the higher number of stars, the more complex and physically demanding the competition becomes.

When is Badminton Horse Trials this year?

The Trials will take place from Wednesday 4th May through to Sunday 8th May 2022.

Why is it called Badminton Horse Trials?

Badminton was first held in 1949 by the 10th Duke of Beaufort in order to let British riders train for international events. Advertised as "the most important horse event in Britain", it was the second three-day event held in Britain, with the first being its inspiration – the 1948 Summer Olympics.

Held since 1949 not only makes Badminton Horse trials the oldest but 1 of only 6 such events in the world.

Where are Badminton Horse Trials held?

The event is staged within the beautiful grounds of the Badminton Estate in South Gloucestershire.

Badminton Estate

How do you qualify for Badminton Horse Trials?

In order to qualify you must finish in the top 10% of a BE 90 or 20% of a BE 100 for a place in the regional finals which are held in the Autumn. At the regionals riders must finish in the top 20% to qualify for Badminton.

Are there any age restrictions for competing?

The youngest competitor to win Badminton was Richard Walker, aged 18 and 247 days, when he rode Pasha to win in 1969. Whereas the oldest rider to lift the trophy is Mark Todd aged 55 in 2011. With an impressive 37 years between these two champions, there is clearly no winning formula when it comes to youth over experience.

How long is Badminton Horse Trials course?

Badminton Horse Trials is one of the toughest equestrian events and is the highlight of the world's 3-Day-Event calendar. As the name suggests horses and riders complete the competition over 3 days, each day consisting of a different discipline or phase:

  • Phase 1: Dressage on Thursday and Friday, spread over the first two days to accommodate all the entrants.
  • Phase 2: Cross Country on Saturday, a four-mile course made of solid man-made and natural obstacles tests both horse and rider’s stamina and bravery. This must be completed within a set time.
  • Phase 3: Show Jumping, Sunday.

How is the Dressage Phase scored?

The test is assessed by three judges who each sit at different points of the arena.  Each movement carries a maximum of 10 marks, with an additional mark out of 20 for overall impression.

The score for the three judges is then averaged and expressed in two ways:

  • as a percentage which enables spectators to see how well each competitor has performed
  • as a penalty score.

The penalty score is simply the difference between the percentage mark and 100, e.g. 65% gives 35 penalties.  The lower the penalty score, the better, as this is what goes on the rider’s marks.

Badminton Dressage

How is the Cross-Country Phase scored?

There are about 45 jumps of various permutations on the course. They can consist of a single fence or a combination of several different fences, e.g., 15A, B and C.

The course must be completed at an average speed of 570 metres per minute. This speed, calculated with the length of the course, gives the ‘optimum time’.  This time is deliberately difficult to achieve, and penalty marks are added at the rate of 0.4 for every second exceeding the optimum time.  A time limit of double the optimum time is also imposed and riders that exceed this time limit are eliminated.

Penalty points for errors on the course are designed to have the greatest influence of the three phases on the overall competition.



First refusal, run-out or circle

20 points

Second refusal, run out or circle at the same obstacle

40 points

Third refusal, run out or circle on course


Fall of Athlete or Horse on course


Activating a frangible device where the dimension of the fence is modified

11 penalties

Dangerous Riding

25 penalties

Missing a flag (as per FEI rules)

15 penalties

Badminton Cross Country

How is the Show Jumping Phase scored?

The jumps range up to 1.30 metres high. Penalties are picked up by knocking down the deliberately balanced fences, refusing to jump a fence or not completing the course within the optimum time.



1st Refusal/disobedience

4 faults

2nd Refusal/disobedience


Knocking down an obstacle

4 faults

Fall of Horse and/or rider


Just like the Cross Country, penalty marks are added at the rate of 0.4 for every second exceeding the optimum time.

Badminton Show Jumping

How much will the winner get if they win Badminton Horse Trials?

This year, the winner will receive with £100,000.

However, the overall prize fund is considerably bigger, for example in 2018 it was £360,750 and competitors placed up to 20th position received a monetary prize.

Who has competed at Badminton Horse Trials the most times?

Andrew Nicholson who rides for New Zealand is the holder of this record with 37 times and winning last in 2017.

Andrew Nicholson

Previously Lorna Clarke held the record with 22 times. Lorna retired after the 1992 event.

How much does it cost to get into Badminton Horse Trials?

All 2022 tickets must be purchased in advance. Buying a ticket on the gate will not be possible.

Tickets can be purchased up until midnight the day before the day of entrance.

Admission for children 12 years and under is free. So, no ticket will be required.

Event Day


Car Pass for parking              

Personal Admission              

Thursday 5th May




Friday 6th May




Saturday 7th May

Cross Country



Sunday 8th May

Show Jumping




What are the highlights of Badminton Horse Trials for spectators?

  • A chance to see top riders perform. See the very crème de le crème of the elite eventing world battle it out
  • A chance to rub shoulders with down to earth Royals and top riders
  • Dogs are permitted
  • As well as the Stallion parade, there’s also the Shetland Pony Grand National, which it just hilarious, plus the parade of the Duke of Beaufort’s Hounds.

What are the lows of Badminton Horse Trials for spectators?

  • Allow plenty of time to get the showground as you get closer to it, you’ll creep along slowly in your car
  • The perils of the British weather!
  • Horses can have bad accidents, particularly on Cross Country Day ☹
  • There are usually around 70-80,000 visitors on Cross Country Day. Chances of getting anywhere near the ‘main attraction’ fences are slim unless you get there early
  • Portaloos – need I say more? These are often some distance apart so careful planning is advised!



Mollory Yates

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