The eventing world has earned its reputation for being a ‘work hard and play harder’ lifestyle and community, with #partylikeaneventer being frequently banded around on Twitter. Back in November The Bit UK were pleased to support ‘The End of Season Event’ for eventers. In between the champagne swigging, the vodka luge and throwing some shapes on the dance floor, The Bit editor Sarah met up with Eventing’s IT Boys, Ben Hobday and Craig Barr.
Over the past year we’ve seen hilarious Snap Chats, Vines, Instagrams and Facebook videos from the king of Social Media, Ben Hobday, and we’ve seen the rise and rise again of Craig Barr, we’ve seen them party hard and by God have we seen them work hard too.
4* Lancashire boy Ben grew up in the Holcombe Hunt Pony Club before heading off to work with William Funnell. Ben’s riding talent was honed and acknowledged when he went onto win the U21 National Championships prior to being selected for the World Class Start Programme and Britain’s Young Rider squad. Since then Ben has gone on to pick up number 3* placings, best U25 result at Burghley and double clears around the world biggest 4*s. Dassett Eventing’s and long time friend Craig Barr has seen a rise up the ranks in the past year completing his first Advanced and CIC3*. Craig was previously Head Lad for Andrew Heffernan and carries a wealth of experience.
We’ve all see the Twitter feeds, seen the lads on tour pictures and the eventing results, but we wanted to get to know eventing’s IT boys a Bit more and talk about why ‘partying hard’ has such an appeal in our world (eventing), social media and making it.
“We wanna kick these old fogies out the way, they’re boring…you know these pink pants are out. We work hard but we play hard too and I think that’s important.” Said Ben when we asked him wy events such as The Eventer End of Season Party were so well supported. “These balls are so popular because we work so hard through the season and dedicate so much of our time to the horses, and although we have a good time at events we are there for work, so its nice to all come together at the end and socialise and have a good time.” I think it is fair to say that our IT boys put their heart and soul into eventing and want to make some positive changes to the image of eventing, whilst enjoying the lifestyle that it brings.
“I think the image of eventing needs to change, with all the oldies going out with their corduroy pants and their zip up woolly jumpers, you know we need to get the younger generation through. And when people look at the younger generation dressing better, dressing sharper, they will take more notice of us and therefore more notice in the sport.” Said Craig. So with the boys wanting to eradicate pink pants and woolly jumpers and get the world to take notice of our sport, how do they suggest we do it?
Both of our boys have become well known for their use of Social Media, in fact the eventing world has become known for its use of social media, I think it was said that ‘we own Twitter’ by a certain Mr Haskell. Social Media has helped numerous amateurs gain recognition, help events find sponsorship and has also helped the outside world gain and insight into the world of eventing. But what did eventing’s king of twitter have to say about it?
“I think it makes things more accessible. In regards to promoting your sponsors it really helps. You can show a new product to thousands of people in seconds rather than having to go through adverts in magazines. It’s just a new way of advertising yourself. And another thing that I’ve noticed and I’ve liked is it’s good to get in touch with other people who maybe were in your shoes 12 months ago or are maybe 12 months ahead of you, to get your advice or to get their advice. I know when I was in Pony Club Ian stark and Mary King did a talk and when I met them it was nice to see they were normal humans you know not these superstar heroes, which they are, but it’s nice to know they are normal” And if you want to see just how normal Mary King is, we suggest you check our Ben’s #EliteEventing video version of Cribs with Emily and Mary King!
For Craig, Social Media had a bit more of a personal connection with his rise to the high levels and ‘eventing fame’, “I think more noticeable for me, the last 2 years have been key for me, to get where I am, and people can watch that on social media, to see how and what you have to do to get to that point. And I haven’t even made my break yet and I’m 27 now. In a nut shell you can show people that no matter how hard it is you can still make it. If you work hard enough, you can make it.”
With the outcry that ensued when British Eventing brought in their Social Media rules, do we think it has had a negative effect? Probably not. Do we think Social Media has helped out sport? Definitely. For riders such Craig and Ben, the support of sponsors, and owners, is crucial, and so is raising your public profile. Social media has enabled them to open new doors and get ever closer to that big break. But what do we count as making it in eventing?
Ben… “but has anyone in eventing actually made it? I don’t see anyone retiring on a yacht in Monaco. No one can win enough prize money…Jung who’s an absolute champion, William Fox Pitt, guys like that they are the best in the sport and in my eyes they don’t get what they deserve. In my eyes they deserve to eventually be able to go you know what I’m gonna give this up tomorrow and sit back and relax like tennis players, but you know what it isn’t going to happen.”
Craig… “I agree with ben, but I think your vision of making it depends on where you are in your life. Say from me 2 years ago as a groom with 1 horse, my vision of making it was having a yard with 5 or 6 nice horses, you know that was my vision of making it. But I now have that and I haven’t made it but that is what pushes us to get better and better and better. But then there are kids in pony club who look at people like you (to Ben) and me and think we’ve made it. There will be 15 year old girls that watch you go round 5 4*s and think that is making it.”
In a sport that we are all so passionate about it is hard to identify what really making it is. Would world fame class as making it? Or living in a large house, with a yard full of stable and no financial worries be classed as making it? Or are you only defined by your last result? The boys certainly give us some food for thought when it comes to looking at what we all class as success. We couldn’t help but laugh at a comment about ‘I just wanna earn some dollar’though.
When you sit and listen to these two talk about the world and sport they love and are clearly so passionate about its hard not to be affected by it. The image of eventing is changing. We are moving, albeit slowly, from a very traditional image of the country and hunting set enjoying their sport to a sport that is more appealing and open to the masses. Slowly but surely the world is stepping into the 21st Century and is embracing technology and social media. With people like Ben and Craig so determined to get people to notice of our sport, surely we cant go wrong?
As time ticked on and the start of the party of the year got ever closer we had to wrap things up…but the quote of the whole interview…
Sarah… “I had something else really important to ask and now I can’t think”
Ben… “you were going to ask me for my number weren’t you?!”
So much cheek and confidence…girlie giggles all round!
Don’t forget to look out for Shadow Sports Horses and Dassett Eventing – especially if you are on the lookout for a new horse or rider.