Chapter 3

Badminton to Olympic Games
(Training & Selection)

Jane Crystal was a regular course attendant at Porlock and owner of a useful 16hh hunter gelding named Remus. Tony Collings saw the potential of this horse and without too much persuasion Remus went into training, at Porlock, for Badminton. The fitness routine arranged for Remus for the first Badminton in 1949 commenced with walking and, after some weeks, trotting for about 1 hour a day. By March this had built up to 3 hours, by April Remus was capable of trotting for two and a half miles up a one in six gradient without blowing.

As this was the first Badminton, no-one had any idea what the obstacles would be like. The course had been selected and built be Col. Trevor Horn; the jumps where tested by the Duke of Beaufort who provided, for this job, a brilliant hunter. As Col. Horn built the fences, the Duke would jump them, the decision as to whether to keep the jumps or not, depended on how well the Duke’s horse jumped them.

While the course was being built a certain amount of espionage took place, with some amusing results. Tony Collings step-daughter, who was at school near Badminton, provided the perfect excuse for regular ‘spying’ visits to the area. Dougie Baker, Tony Collings brother-in-law, then living at Flaxbourton, was coerced into spying trips. News came back that wooden fences were being constructed with upright poles and 3’6" gaps.

Work began at Porlock to build a similar fence, which resulted in numerous bruises and knocked knees. It was only later discovered, that the fences seen, had not been complete! Remus went to Badminton in 1949 and did not disappoint the staff at Porlock. The dressage test, which took eight minutes to complete, was similar to a modern day medium test, including collected trot and canter, half turns on the haunches and serpentines. The twenty movements totalled 350 points. The judges' marks were averaged and subtracted from the total to give the penalty scores. The highest in 1949 was a penalty of 233, the lowest, achieved by Remus ridden by Capt. Tony Collings, was 56.

(C) Jacqueline Peck 2000

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