Top riders take part in the first Forces Equine Games at Heckfield

TOP riders from the Armed Forces and the police took part in an inaugural equestrian event in Heckfield.

More than 350 people entered the Forces Equine Games, which took place at Wellington Riding off the A33 Reading Road on the bank holiday weekend.

The two-day competition included events such as show jumping, dressage, horse archery and tent-pegging, where riders used a lance to pick up objects from the grounds.

The competitors, who took part in full uniform, were mainly drawn from the Army and Royal Navy, although police forces from across the UK were also represented.

Organiser Debbie Heath French, founder of Forces Equine, said the competition moved to Heckfield when another venue fell through at the last minute.

She said: "I cannot recommend Wellington Riding enough. They have done everything and anything that they can and they have been phenomenal.

"It has gone really well and there is a lot to learn for the future. Everybody has been smiling, my judges were happy and it has been brilliant."

The event was set up as a way of getting keen riders together from all sections of the Armed Forces, although it was also open to police officers and firefighters.

It included a march past the 97-year-old Duke of Wellington, who took the salute from all the competitors.

A raffle raised money for two charities – Horse Back UK, which gives injured soldiers an opportunity to work with horses, and ABF The Soldiers' Charity.

Charlotte Dujardin, an individual and team gold medallist at London 2012, donated the saddlecloth from her horse Valegro as a gift for the raffle.

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