This week Horse & Hound asks: “When does gamesmanship become cheating?”

Few of us own up to having raw ambition, but gentility rarely prevents competitors using every trick in the book to ensure their place in the final line-up.

Speaking to both rule benders and sticklers, journalist Shirley Lewis builds up a picture of the realities of the competition world.

One patriarch of a northern dynasty with expertise in everything from pony showing to eventing says: “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.”

From blocking fellow showing competitors so that your mount is always the one in front of the judge to striking up a friendship with your local dressage judges, the possibilities to influence those in power are endless.

Gamesmanship is a practice honed to perfection by the top riders who forever walk away with the lion’s share of the trophies. So if you can’t beat them, should you join them?

To read the full feature don’t miss Horse & Hound on sale tomorrow, Thursday 2 August.