Winter Mission 2020: Petplan Equine Area Festivals

  • Written By: Winnie Murphy
  • Published: Mon, 14 Sep 2020 08:09 GMT

It was a huge day for the sport of dressage on 1 July 2020. Not only was it the first day affiliated competitions could resume under British Dressage, following three and a half month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also marked the start of the winter qualification period for thousands of competitors. For many, their winter qualifying campaign will be firmly focused on one major goal: the Petplan Equine Winter Area Festivals.

Area Festival rider leg

A revised Area Festival programme comprising a winter and summer series was launched last year with a new music element added for the summer series. Sadly, COVID-19 lead to the cancellation of the debut summer series but the great news is qualifying is well underway for winter!

British Dressage Chief Executive, Jason Brautigam, commented: “Members are returning to shows and adapting to a new way of competing in COVID safe conditions, which is great to see. While we lost the summer season due to the lockdown, riders are very much firmly focused on the way forward and the Area Festivals are top of the list for many of our members. This year should have seen the launch of our exciting new two season series and the addition of music classes to celebrate 21 years of support from our loyal sponsors Petplan Equine, but unfortunately that wasn’t meant to be.

“However, we did at least manage to successfully bring the 2020 Winter Championships to conclusion at Hartpury last month and our focus is now back on the winter series. Early indications are that riders have embraced the return to action enthusiastically and are busy qualifying already. We wish all riders, horses and their connections a successful qualification journey for the remainder of the year.”


The qualifying period runs from 1 July until 31 December 2020, with the Petplan Equine Winter Area Festivals taking place from mid-January to the end of February. The class range is Prelim to Inter I, with sections for Bronze and Silver riders. New for 2020, qualification is based on earning points at regular BD shows and each of the levels have different requirements, as follows:

Level Bronze Silver
Prelim - Elementary 7 9
Medium - Advanced Medium 4 6
Prix St Georges - Inter I 2 4

Points are earned according to your percentage scored, as per the members’ handbook, and at least one point in the total should come from a qualifying section at the level which is identified on a show’s schedule with a ‘Q’.

Once the points are earned, qualification is secured and riders can choose from any of the 12 Area Festivals around the country. Riders can compete in as many Area Festivals as they qualify for, until they achieve their qualification for the Championships in April. Qualification to the championships is secured either by winning the class or finishing as runner up.

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, any riders who’ve already achieved full or part qualifications in the summer season (1 December 2019 – 30 June 2020) are able to carry those over to the winter season, so they’re not wasted. Any vital points earned toward Petplan Equine qualifications will automatically be passed onto winter.

Area Festivals rider with logo

Membership requirements

In order to take part, riders and horses must be full members with British Dressage for all phases of the series, qualification, Area Festivals and the Championship. The exception is those who wish to campaign at Prelim Bronze Level, where Club registration for rider and horse is permitted for qualifying – but they must upgrade in order to compete at an Area Festival.

Winter series calendar

We released the list of dates earlier this year to help with campaign planning, but we’re delighted to announce that two new ‘half’ opportunities have been added for riders in Scotland and Wales. These shows will run as the others in the calendar, but qualification to the championships will be for the winners of each class only. There’s also been a change of venue for riders in the south of England with Speedgate now replacing Blue Barn Equestrian, running on the same date.

Venue County  Date
Solihull Equestrian Centre West Midlands 16 - 17 January
Gordon Dressage Group @ The Cabin *HALF* Aberdeenshire 16 - 17 January
Vale View Equestrian Centre Leicestershire 23 - 24 January
Northallerton Equestrian Centre North Yorkshire 28 - 31 January
Keysoe Equetrian Centre Bedfordshire 29 - 31 January
Prestige Equestrian Gloucestershire 04 - 06 February
Aintree International Merseyside 04 - 07 February
Parwood Equestrian Centre Surrey 04 - 07 February
Morris Equestrian Centre East Ayrshire 10 - 14 February
Kingston Maurward College Dorset 13 - 15 February
Beacons Equestrian Centre *HALF* Carmarthenshire 13 - 15 February
Speedgate Equestrian Centre *NEW VENUE*  moved from Blue Barn Kent 18 - 21 February

Combinations who place in the top two (or win at the half shows) will earn a coveted spot at the Petplan Equine Area Festival Winter Championships, which runs as part of the NAF Five Star Winter Championships at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire. The date for next year’s Championships has just been confirmed as 14 – 18 April 2021, but this is subject to change due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We have been overwhelmed by the support for the Petplan Equine Area Festivals, especially during these challenging times and we are eagerly awaiting the start of the new Winter Series, as the excitement has certainly been building ahead of this,” comments Kate Hopkins, Marketing Consultant for Petplan Equine.

“The Area Festivals are close to the hearts of so many riders and each year we are amazed by the hard work and dedication demonstrated. It has been heartening to see so many combinations qualifying for the series already and the support and encouragement which is seen throughout the Area Festivals community is an integral part of the experience. We would like to wish every duo heading down the centre line the very best of luck.”

Both Petplan Equine and British Dressage have a dedicated Area Festival hub with information, news and updates to help competitors achieve their winter 2020 goals.

Petplan Equine AF INFO HUB

British Dressage AF INFO HUB