Petplan Equine Area Festivals Winter Series

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Petplan Equine Area Festivals 5 300x206 - Petplan Equine Area Festivals Winter SeriesFor many riders around the country their winter qualifying campaign will be firmly focused on one major goal: the Petplan Equine Winter Area Festivals.

For the last 21 years, the Petplan Equine Area Festivals have grown exponentially, from small beginnings to be the most participated in competition hosted by British Dressage. It has opened doors and influenced many top equine careers and now, as competition safely recommences, Petplan Equine and British Dressage is gearing up for the Winter Area Festivals and qualification is in full swing.

“Petplan Equine is immensely proud to be the title sponsor of this unique dressage series and to see the caring ethics of Petplan Equine cascade down to the grassroot competitors,” comments Kate Hopkins, Petplan Marketing Consultant. “The Area Festivals are a real celebration of all levels of dressage and enables riders to showcase their dedication to the sport. It’s brilliant to see how the Area Festivals have grown over the years, we are really looking forward to the start of the Winter Series and can’t wait to welcome competitors.”

The Petplan Equine Area Festivals in Numbers 

  • 555 competitors took part in the first Petplan Equine Area Festivals in 2000
  • An impressive 4,132 riders rode down the centre line during the 2019 Petplan Equine Area Festivals – the 20th Anniversary year
  • 383 combinations competed in the 2020 Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships, an incredible achievement when compared to the 84 riders who qualified for the first Championship in 2001

Jane Morris and her Area Festival Journey

Jane has competed in the Petplan Equine Areal Festivals for over 10 years with her two horses, Really Relevant (Heins) and Quinet du Buisson Z (Super Tig). She qualified originally at Novice level in 2010 before rising through the ranks and most recently finished in an impressive second and third place in the Inter I and Inter II with Super Tig at the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championship at Hartpury College.

Now competing on the Grand Prix circuit, Jane looks back on her Area Festival journey with fond memories, “I originally started my Petplan Equine Area Festivals career with Heins at novice, year on year we climbed the levels eventually qualifying at Inter II in 2018.  Sadly, Heins suffered an injury and had to be retired but Super Tig was waiting in the wings having started his Petplan Area Festival journey in 2015 at Elementary.  I have to admit, when Heins was injured I thought it would be a long time, if ever, before my tail coat made an appearance again but Super Tig suddenly found his flying changes and within a couple of months was competing at Prix St. Georges (PSG).  Incredibly later that year he won the Petplan Area Festival Final at Fieldhouse and was second at the Championship. 

“The Area Festivals are just perfect for people like me, as it gives you an aim to work up the levels. There is such a supportive atmosphere and the qualifying process is straightforward, it encourages riders of all levels to get involved. Dressage is a real passion for me and as a grassroots rider the Area Festivals really allowed me to pursue this. Super Tig and I are aiming to compete in the Premier League next year and I will be sad not to be continuing my Area Festival journey. I think it is a fantastic series and I am very grateful to have taken part in them and I know so many people who feel the same.” 

Petplan Equine Area Festivals 300x240 - Petplan Equine Area Festivals Winter SeriesThe competition

The Petplan Equine Area Festivals consist of a Summer and Winter series for Bronze and Silver combinations, meaning all year-round competition.

For the Winter series, qualification has already started and runs through until December 2020 with the Area Festivals taking place in January and February.

Qualification for the Summer series will then begin in January 2021 and will run through until June. The Area Festivals will take place in July and August. Both series will conclude with a Championship allowing riders two opportunities to aim for a Championship title.  

How to get involved

Competitors have until 31 December 2020 for to qualify for the Petplan Equine Winter Area Festivals. Based on a points system, riders can take part in Prelim to Intermedia I classes, in the Bronze and Silver sections.  Points are earned at British Dressage shows and each of the levels have different requirements.




Prelim – Elementary  



Medium – Advanced Medium



PSG – Inter I  



Points are earned according to your percentage scored, as per the British Dressage members’ handbook.

Qualified riders can then head to one of 12 Area Festivals around the country and they are as follows:



Solihull Equestrian Centre

16 – 17 January

Gordon Dressage Group @ The Cabin – HALF*

16 – 17 January

Vale View Equestrian

23 – 24 January

Northallerton EC

28 – 31 January


29 – 31 January

Prestige Equestrian

04 – 06 February

Aintree International

04 – 07 February

Parwood Equestrian Centre

04 – 07 February

Morris Equestrian Centre

10 – 14 February

Kingston Maurward College

13 – 15 February

Beacons Equestrian Centre – HALF*

13 – 15 February

Speedgate (change from venue from Blue Barn Equestrian Centre)

18 – 21 February

Petplan Equine Area Festivals 8 300x200 - Petplan Equine Area Festivals Winter SeriesCombinations who are placed in the top two will earn a coveted spot at the Petplan Equine Area Festival Winter Championships at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire, scheduled for 14 – 18 April 2021*.

The ‘half’ opportunities are available for riders competing at venues in Scotland and Wales. These shows will run as the others, but qualification to the Championships will be for the winners only.

*Please be aware dates are subject to change.

Petplan Equine Ambassador, Amy Tilston Amy shares her advice

Amy has been competing in the Petplan Equine Area Festivals for the past six years and has risen through the levels from Novice to Advanced Medium. Speaking about her involvement in the competition she said, “the Petplan Equine Area Festivals have been a great influence on my riding career from when I first qualified at Novice in 2014 to winning the Myerscough College Medium Area Festivals Final in 2019.  Looking ahead, I am really excited to be qualifying and hopefully competing in the Winter Area Festivals next year.”

Here, Amy shares her competition top tips with us.

“My top tip would be, make sure you are fussy about accuracy and preparation of movements. Additionally, always plan your warm-up and don’t try to teach your horse anything new, you have done all your training at home. Have a warm-up routine that works for you and your horse which is familiar and will hopefully help you both relax.”

“Finally, always remember to have fun, Maybe take a friend with you (if allowed) as it will provide you with moral support.

International dressage rider Charlie Hutton helps you maximise those marks 

Charlie enjoys sharing his passion for dressage and helping riders of all levels with their training. “The Petplan Equine Area Festivals allows grassroots riders a shot at the big time and now that dressage duos are able to take part in both a Winter and Summer series, riders have the opportunity to compete year-round. From a training point of view, riders can set goals and remain focused throughout the year.”

Whether you’re currently preparing to qualify for an Area Festival, or you are just wanting to improve your riding, Charlie shares his expert advice on the Petplan Equine website. Click here, to find out more.]

Charlie’s advice on improving self-carriage: Do more transitions; walk to canter and canter to walk. This will encourage your horse to take more weight on the hind legs, improving balance and self-carriage. You are also encouraging your horse to become more responsive to the aids which in turn will help with the balance developing the self-carriage rather than relying on the rein.”

Charlie’s top competition tip: “Practice the test repeatedly! Committing the test to memory is of huge benefit. You want to enter the arena knowing every inch of it. This may also help to calm your nerves as you will feel more prepared.”

For more training tips and expert advice for the Petplan Equine Area Festivals, visit the Petplan Equine website]

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