THOUSANDS of equestrian fans flocked to Barbury this weekend to see riders including Zara Phillips and Andrew Nicholson at the top of their game for the tenth annual horse trials.

Around 1,000 riders took to the courses on the estate over four days, and were also able to enjoy the side delights of dancing sheep and dog flyballing.

Nigel Bunter, owner of Barbury estate, said he had been amazed at how the event has grown over 10 years.

“We started back in 2005 after I got the idea from a neighbour, David Green, who won Olympic gold in Barcelona,” he said. “Over a pint he asked if he could tempt me to stage some horse trials.

“Since then it has grown from being a small event to a huge event in the calendar. We have been lucky to always have the support of the top riders from around the world.

“We have about 1,000 horses competing over the four days across various levels. The top riders will be building up to the world equestrian games in August, and this is a perfect stepping stone for that. The grounds are perfect for them.”

The chosen charity of the Barbury trials this year is the Injured Jockey’s Fund.

Brough Scott, chairman of the charity, said: “Fifty two years ago I rode a winner here, and if I was to look back, what is here now is so much bigger, vibrant and full of activity linked to the oldest sports going with the land and horses.

“In those days we knew nothing about fractures and would put a broken limb straight in a caster plast. An injury that would have taken months to recover from now takes days, and it is about education of the injuries more than anything.”

It was not only horses competing on the day, with a separate stage for dog flyballing.

John Burden, of the Flying Foxes, was racing his labrador, Lola.

“The concept is a four dog relay, with the first dog leaping four jumps, grabbing a ball out of a box and coming back,” he said. “That is repeated and you are always in competition with another team.

“It is a great exercise for the dog really, and they all really seem to enjoy it. More than anything else it is great social interaction for both the dogs and ourselves, because you get teams competing all over the country.”