A stunning opening ceremony officially opened a highly prestigious international equestrian event at Bishop Burton College.
The college is this week hosting the FEI European Championships for Ponies at its campus near Beverley, in East Yorkshire.
The event, which is free to attend for the public, is the only equine competition of its kind to include all three Olympic disciplines of eventing, dressage and showjumping.
It opened in dramatic fashion, with competitors and invited guests treated to a visual spectacle that included a captivating stunt horse performance and a high-tempo display of synchronized military riding.
Former Bishop Burton College student Ben Atkinson was the headline act and he thrilled the audience with his spectacular stunt horse performance.
Ben, who has worked on hit television shows including Poldark and Peaky Blinders, returned to the college to show a breathtaking array of stunts with his team from Atkinsons Action Horses.
The ceremony opened with the teams from all 16 countries taking part in the championships entering the college’s indoor equine arena to a sea of colourful, flag-waving supporters, and to the magnificent background music of the East Riding of Yorkshire Brass Band.
The 28-strong Royal Horse Guards then delivered a show of enthralling riding which had the audience enthusiastically clapping along, before college Chief Executive and Principal, Bill Meredith, received the salute.
Mr Meredith told the assembled crowd: “Ladies and gentlemen, competitors, officials and honoured guests – welcome to the FEI European Championships for Ponies 2018 at Bishop Burton College.
“You are all here for what promises to be a truly spectacular week of equine competition, which will see the finest young riding talent from 16 countries across Europe competing as individuals or in teams.
“Bishop Burton College is extremely proud to have been chosen to host such a highly prestigious international equestrian event.
“To be the chosen venue is a real honour. Months of planning and preparation is now complete and, like me, I’m sure all of you now can’t wait for the action to start.
“I hope you all enjoy your time at Bishop Burton College and, to the young men and young women who are representing their countries – I look forward to a safe, fair and exciting championship that shows off the very best of competitive spirit and I wish you all the very best of luck.”
Competitors aged between 12 and 16 are taking part in individual and team events throughout the week, culminating in a weekend of cross country action on Saturday and Sunday.
Prize-giving ceremonies will take place each day, with ‘horseball’ matches during the evenings.
The college was chosen to be the host venue by the FEI (Federation Equestre Internationale), which is the international governing body, following a competitive bidding process.
It previously hosted the competition in 2010 – the last time it was held in the UK – when the British eventing team rode to victory to secure the team gold in front of a home crowd.
For more information on the FEI European Pony Championships at Bishop Burton College, including the specific individual event times, visit www.bishopburtonponyeuros2018.co.uk
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