There is one face amongst the riders at this year’s Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials that might be familiar to people of a certain age – that of British rider Gary Parsonage. Gary, who lives in East Yorkshire, is making a competitive return to Badminton after an absence from the Gloucestershire event of 17 years. He last competed here in 1998 being placed 13th with Magic Rogue with who he was a member of the British team in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
In the intervening years between then and now as well as making a name for himself as a trainer of both young horses and riders, Gary also enjoyed much success in the Hickstead Eventers Grand Prix – he won the class in 1999 with Just So II and had a second and three wins with Peter Street – 2008, ’09 & ’11 – who he retired from competition after his final win.
This year he brings Sligo Luckyvalier to Badminton, a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse with who he has completed three previous four-star events including two Burghleys.
“The last time I competed at Badminton it was long format so that is a big change for start,” says Gary who is a BE Accredited Trainer and the Chairman of the BE’s British pony team selectors.
“Last year I did walk the cross country course which was a first for ten years and was surprised to find that the course no longer went across the Luckington Lane – no Tom Smiths Walls and Centre Walk hedges but otherwise it is much as it was and I am much looking forward to riding it again.”
Gary is married to former event rider Camilla Hall who will be grooming for the week and the couple now has two boys aged 11 and 9 although they have stayed behind. “They are more into football and one has a cricket match which is much more important than Badminton says Gary.
A tall unassuming person Gary gives the impression that Badminton is just another day at the office so will the butterflies kick-in when the time comes to enter that main arena for their dressage test on Friday.
“I guess so – it is very much like riding under a magnifying glass. But it will be nice to be back in there again although it’s not the horse’s best phase and he’ll feel the atmosphere a bit. But he’s a genuine, enthusiastic horse who’s got bolder and bolder over the years.”
“Oh there is one thing; does the man still paint the scoreboard,” queries Gary. Yes Gary he does. Good then to find while somethings have changed during the last 17 years there is a lot that hasn’t.