Posted on 16th July 2021

Novice Masters gets underway at Barbury

The first running of the Novice Masters, a brand-new British Eventing competition for combinations competing at Novice level, made a great impact at Barbury International Horse Trials last weekend.

The Novice Masters aims to provide riders with an achievable new goal. As well as riding a bespoke dressage test designed especially for this class, in an international sized 20m x 60m arena with two dressage judges, Novice Masters competitors can choose to ride their test in a Tailcoat, adding to the special feel of this occasion.

The competition proved extremely popular and was hotly contested throughout the weekend. By the time the class reached its conclusion, less than one penalty separated the top three – with Harriet Ford and According to Archie (26) taking the win, ahead of Saskia Davies and Singing Usk (26.3) and Ellie Ormrod and Keyland William (26.9).

Novice Masters Winners Barbury 2021
Novice Masters winner, Harriet Ford (centre) and second-placed Saskia Davies (left) receive their prizes from Tara Williams (right). Image, Hannah Cole Photography

“The whole experience of doing the Novice Masters was amazing,” said our first winner, Harriet Ford. “The fact that I could do my dressage in tails, it just had such a great feel, especially being here at Barbury.

“The Novice Masters is a great thing for people coming up through the levels and especially for someone like myself – I am trying to get more owners and some more rides, so it is really good to have this success with a home-produced horse.”

Laura Durkan and Lady May IV held the lead after the dressage phase, having achieved a fabulous score of just 23. Such was the depth of talent in the field however, there wasn’t much breathing room for Laura heading into the show jumping phase, with plenty of riders within a fence or two of the lead. 

The show jumping for this special class is run at Intermediate Novice height, so 1.15m with a couple of fences at 1.20m. This phase certainly altered the leader board, with only 18 of the combinations leaving all the poles in place. 

Heading into the cross country phase it was still all to play for, with (eventual winner) Harriet having taken the lead after show jumping but not able to afford to be even one second over the time, as just 0.4 penalties would have seen her lose the top spot. Harriet kept her cool – she and According to Archie sailed around the course and came home two seconds inside the time to hold on to their lead and take the Novice Masters honours (and a fantastic array of prizes!).

In the end, just 6.9 penalties separating the top 10 in this brand new class – making a brilliant competition and providing superb entertainment not only for spectators and supporters at Barbury, but those watching along on Horse & Country.

The series now moves onto Little Downham Horse Trials on Saturday 7th August.


The top 6 riders all received a discount voucher to purchase their video of their round at Barbury from An Eventful Life and they will also all go forward into the prize draw at the end of the series to win the Jump 4 Joy branded fence, which they all cleared on Sunday.

The BETTA LIFE prize for the overall Best Dressage went to Laura Durkan, who achieved a fabulous score of just 23.

Melissa Joannides took home the £50 bonus courtesy of the EHOA - The Event Horse Owners Association for being their best placed member.

Holly Osborne Eventing received a voucher from An Eventful Life for the Best Cross Country award by being the only rider bang on the optimum time.

Emma Wilkes took home the highest climber award moving up an incredible 31 places after dressage! She received prizes from

Saskia Davies and Singing Usk took 2nd place just 0.3 penalties behind the winner, they also took the Best Veterans prize from Bettalife being the best placed horse 16 or over.