Brampton Willows, near Halesworth, to make ‘show-piece obstacles’ for this year’s Badminton Horse Trials

Brampton Willows workers (l-r) Glyn Gray and Darren Jordan, pictured with the waves

Brampton Willows workers (l-r) Glyn Gray and Darren Jordan, pictured with the waves - Credit: Archant

Suffolk willow specialists have been commissioned to create three “show-piece obstacles” for what is reportedly the world’s oldest and most prestigious three-day horse trial event.

The organisers of this year’s Badminton Horse Trials have asked Brampton Willows, which is based near Halesworth, to produce more of its willow “waves” to be used as cross-country obstacles, situated near the course’s famous lake.

The company designed and made the original structures in 2006, but after nine years of “pounding by the horses”, event director Hugh Thomas has called for them to be replaced.

Robert Yates, who set up the company around 25 years ago, and cultivates his own willow beds to work with, said he was “delighted” to have been offered the contract again.

“Like last time, we have used a very heavy duty weave – it’s almost like some sort of armour-plating,” he added. “The most interesting thing is to see how much the waves flex on impact, only to spring back immediately afterwards. Although very solid, they do have quite a bit of ‘give’ in them, which has got to be a good thing for both horses and riders.”

The waves have been designed as mobile obstacles, which are intended to be used for many years.

The willow has been woven around a steel frame to give the obstacles the necessary structural strength to withstand the weight of a half-ton horse landing on them.

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Other unusual projects undertaken by the company include a three metre tall King Kong sculpture, which was produced for a client in the Seychelles last year.

The Badminton Horse Trials, which is described as “the most prestigious three-day event in the world” attracts crowds of more than 150,000 spectators and is one of the largest paid entry sports event in the UK.

It runs from May 6 - 10.

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