Patricia Clifton on globetrotting, sport development and Chatsworth International Horse Trials

Piggy French and Cooley Monsoon Photo: Fiona Scott-Maxwell

Piggy French and Cooley Monsoon Photo: Fiona Scott-Maxwell - Credit: Archant

As months of work come to fruition at this year’s Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials Derbyshire Life meets Event Director, the Hon Patricia Clifton

As well as well as organising Chatsworth Horse Trials, Patricia works with FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale) developing eventing in Sub-Saharan Africa and is also on the FEI eventing committee, where plans for the 2020 Olympics are well underway.

We caught up with Patricia on globetrotting, sport development and what’s in store for this year’s show.

What can visitors look forward to at this year’s Horse Trials?

We have grown the whole event significantly over the last few years. This year we are expanding the non equestrian entertainment for children and families generally and including circus skills workshops, face painting and pottery painting.

What would a typical day at the Horse Trials involve for you?

Panicking! No, seriously, the day is spent trying to support the amazing horse trials team who are really the people who make the event work.

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This will be your fifth Chatsworth Horse Trials as event director, what has changed since 2014?

Apart from the fact it’s a significantly larger event, we changed the layout in 2017 which we think was a very positive move. In addition I am thrilled that Dodson & Horrell have announced that they will extend their commitment to be our headline sponsors for a further three years.

How do you prepare for Chatsworth Horse Trials?

As I work at many other events as an official it is always about fitting everything in around each other. I also travel extensively both with the sport and with my other work, which is distribution in Southern Africa, so April and May are always particularly frantic months.

Have you a favourite part of the event, what makes Chatsworth special?

Finishing the event in one piece is always immensely satisfying! As is the knowledge that everyone has had a happy time. Chatsworth is a magical place and I am exceptionally lucky with the help I get from everyone working for the Chatsworth House Trust. The Duke and Duchess are also incredibly supportive.

Is eventing very different now to when you were competing?

Yes, massively different. When I evented it was really an amateur sport whereas now, especially at the upper levels, it is very hard to be successful if you are not a professional.

Have you any advice for young riders?

Keep training, look after your horse, and follow your dream.

What does your work with the FEI involve and if there’s anything you would do to help the sport develop, what would it be?

I have already been very involved in developing the sport in Southern Africa which has been exceptionally rewarding and I would like to continue to work on that side of things, although that particular programme has now finished. I am also on the FEI Eventing Technical Committee which has been an interesting few years as the sport continues to evolve to embrace the 21st century.

dodson & horrell chatsworth international horse trials - 11th to 13th May

Chatsworth Horse Trials are an opportunity for the whole family to enjoy the magical setting at Chatsworth House as well as the raft of activities that take place over the three days of the event. The chance to see in competition both the eventing elite and those making their way up the ranks makes for exciting viewing. Then there’s dog agility, shopping and arena displays.

Gates open at 8am each day. Ticket enquiries 01246 565300