In just over a week lorries will be packed, horses loaded, and riders from far and wide will head to Blair Castle in the Scottish Highlands. The Blair Castle International Horse Trials and Bruadar Country Fair runs from 21-24 August, with showing, show jumping and Pony Club classes taking place alongside the main event, providing equestrian entertainment to suit all horse lovers.
Top riders will be challenging for the spoils, among them British World Equestrian Games squad member Nicola Wilson who will be heading straight from Scotland to France. Her team veteran Opposition Buzz, now retired from the very top level, will start as one of the favourites for the CIC3*, a class he has won twice before. Olympians Lucinda Fredericks and Mark Kyle both have good records at Blair and are also bound to be in the mix.
The fairytale Blair Castle, situated between Perth and Inverness, is set to play host to next summer's FEI European Eventing Championships, so event riders will be keen to try out the new reverse-routed course devised by Ian Stark OBE. Ian has, however, promised that few clues as to next year's Championship track will be visible. Tickets for the European Championships, which will run from 10-13 September 2015, go on sale on Thursday 21 August 2014.
Complimenting the equestrianism will be the Bruadar Country Fair, offering non-horsey visitors plenty of entertainment with a wide range of demonstrations each day. Performing this year will be Ridgeside Falconry and Dogs, the Quack Commandos and Riders of the Storm amongst others, and there will also be a Vintage and Classic Tractor Cavalcade.
The shopping village houses over 200 trade stands providing something for all tastes and budgets, including a fabulous food hall full of deliciousness, so visitors would do well to ensure they arrive with plenty of empty space in the car for their purchases.
As well as the equine spectacle and Country Fair, visitors to Scotland's leading equestrian event will also have the opportunity to experience the enchanting 'spirit of Scotland'. 2014 is Scotland's Year of Homecoming, a year-long celebration of all that makes Scotland an amazing place to visit.
There is no better place to start a Scottish tour than at Blair Castle, which dates back to 1269. It is the ancient seat of the Dukes of Atholl and home to the Atholl Highlanders, the last remaining private army in Europe, and it houses countless fascinating historical artefacts detailing 700 years of Scottish history.
Scotland is captivating: the landscape is magnificent, the wildlife prodigious and the local produce some of the best in the world. The country also boasts a thriving arts and culture scene, with an eclectic range of theatre, dance and music. It has an intriguing literary history and a range of architecture encompassing castles and crofts through to Glasgow's stunning Riverside Museum and Edinburgh's Scottish Parliament.
If you are one of the 40,000 visitors planning to attend this month's Horse Trials, why not grasp the opportunity to explore this extraordinary country? Watch world class sport in a truly idyllic setting before embarking on a tour of all that Scotland has to offer.