Equifest – The Festival for Horse Lovers – is a five day equestrian extravaganza. Entering its eighth year, the show just keeps on growing and becoming more and more successful. This year’s event, will be held from August 12 to the 16.
The event is based at the East of England Showground at Peterborough and wouldn’t run without the dedication of the Equifest team.
Travelling to meet the team at their busy office on the showground it is clear from the start everyone involved is hugely committed to the show, its’ continuing success and making the 2015 bigger and better than ever before.
We caught up with, Betsy Branyan, Jenny Needham and Nicki Watson to find out more about their daily routine and how the show has changed over the years. All the team have ridden since a young age and have a huge passion for the sport.
What is your role?
Betsy Branyan: Basically I have a variety of roles varying from arranging the Equifest timetable, schedule and judges to booking contractors, planning the show layout and praying for reasonable weather!
Jenny Needham: I am responsible for show affiliations, sponsors, dealing with all competitor queries – and keeping Betsy calm during the show.
Nicki Watson: I manage all aspects of the Show Jumping at Equifest and the Inter Hunt Team Relay at The Festival of Hunting.
What is your favourite part of the job?
Betsy Branyan: The planning of the show – thinking about new classes to put on – and trying to create a timetable that is constantly evolving to encompass as many equestrian disciplines as possible.
Jenny Needham: Seeing the excitement in the children’s faces when they come to the show office showing me the rosette they have won that day or telling me what they are going to spend their prize money on!!
Why do you feel so passionately about Equifest?
Betsy Branyan: There are always trials and tribulations with any event – and we have had our fair share with Equifest over the years. We have seen Equifest grow from a small idea into the largest showing event in the UK and we are naturally both proud and protective of the show and its image.
Nicki Watson: Having seen the ‘seed’ being planted from day one with Betsy and my dad and watching it grow into one of the largest horse only events in the country makes it very special.
How has Equifest changed over the years?
Jenny Needham: The show that developed into Equifest originally ran over four weekends in August and involved a variety of equestrian societies and disciplines. Now Equifest provides an equestrian holiday for the whole family – aimed at having fun with your horse or pony – at whatever level.
Betsy Branyan: In the first year, Equifest was a three day show with seven rings and 150 classes. It is now run over a five day period with 20 rings and more than 700 classes. We have tried hard to keep the original concept of the equestrian holiday so that competitors can stay for the duration and have fun.
Why is Equifest different from other shows?
Nicki Watson: It has something for everyone across a range of equine disciplines. The great thing about the show is that an Equifest competitor is anyone with access to an equine!
Jenny Needham: The show tries hard to cater for all people with an interest in competing – whether in showing, show jumping, working hunters, carriage driving or dressage , Equifest aims to be as inclusive as possible.
Where would you like to see Equifest in five years’ time?
Betsy Branyan: We would like to see Equifest continue to evolve and change as the equestrian world changes. We conducted primary research at Equifest 2014 to see what improvements our competitors and visitors wanted to see. 2015 promises more entertainment and demonstrations and we also hope in the future to expand the shopping area and develop more activities for the family – whilst keeping the core events and classes at Equifest the same.