Well the end of the ‘summer’ season has already reached us and another year has flown by. I say summer season opposed to season as nowadays I seem to end up competing all year round.

I have actually been very lucky this year and having got my ponies qualified for HOYS (Horse of the Year Show) fairly early, we didn’t face the pressure you sometimes feel or weirdly end up putting yourself under to keep going to qualifiers. After a couple of not so fun years we definitely now try to prescribe to the view of just doing the shows we want, but it can get hard to keep this idea in check especially when so often you are so close to that ‘golden ticket’.

The end of July was pretty mad for me with a sweep of shows all bunched on top of each other. However, at one of these shows I wasn’t competing but was lucky enough to be judging. This was at the Royal Welsh where I was honoured to be judging the Welsh section C ridden class in the main ring. Having only been to the Royal Welsh once to compete, and this wasn’t in the main ring, I can honestly say I was pretty terrified! I am not sure I slept much the night before.

With my Royal Welsh co-judge

Standing in the middle of the ring (pictured top), the sun was shining and I really felt extremely lucky to be judging there and also lucky that I had so many lovely ponies to ride judge.

Ride judging at The Royal Welsh is very unique as there are not many shows now which have ride judges for the Welsh ponies. I have been very lucky in my time to ride judge at some fantastic shows like Royal Windsor and the RIHS (Royal International Horse Show) but riding Welsh ponies in Wales was pretty special.

In total I rode 21 Welsh section C’s and thankfully, bar one (who thought I would appreciate an entire show in walk, bless him), they were all fantastically well behaved for me and thankfully I didn’t do any falling off on the live stream!

I do love my Welsh ponies and for me it was a real privilege to ride not only fantastic examples of the breed but ponies who had been well schooled and prepped for the ring — not an easy task when you put them into an atmosphere like that main arena.

I found judging them quite difficult as there were quite a few who really gave me lovely rides so I had to do my best to really think about how responsive they were, whether they went true to their type and how comfortable I felt on them. My co-judge was the very knowledgeable Cheryl Frith who herself has done the ride judging at this show. We had very similar views on what we liked and disliked and found we were singing from the same hymn sheet which is always great to have when judging with someone else.

Watching our line up of fantastic ponies galloping out the arena to the grandstand cheers made me extremely proud and remembered what is often lost in showing. There was no HOYS ticket at stake on that day but people had travelled from all over to show off their pride and joys and get to go around that arena. Hopefully one day I might get to go back and do this again but in the meantime thank you to everyone who took their wonderful ponies for me to ride, I really did enjoy every second.

After finishing at the Royal Welsh, we headed for home and decided to go to the New Forest show the next day. I wasn’t so keen, bathing at 8pm wasn’t my idea off fun but we do love the show and always have a lovely day out. We only took Leo down as both Bam and Moonie already had their HOYS tickets and with RIHS also later that week we didn’t want them to go out twice.

Leo at the New Forest show

Well it was a good job that we did take Leo as he went and won the class collecting his HOYS ticket. I was super proud of him as he really has come on this season and with all the HOYS qualifiers he did he wasn’t out of the top three, having a second, two thirds and then a win. So that meant all my rides for this year were qualified and I didn’t have to go to any more shows (well that is what my other half always asks!).

The three Shilstone Rocks Dartmoors at RIHS from left to right Leo (Shilstone Rocks Snow Owl), Dave and Terri Gregson (Shilstone Rocks Firestone) and Windy (Shilstone Rocks North Westerly)

To finish up the week, we headed to RIHS which to be honest was a bit of a wash out. We have always loved RIHS being so close to us and around my mum’s birthday, but I felt even more disappointed this year with the ring change. The ground and weather can’t really be helped but the ring felt miles away with sadly very little atmosphere.

Continued below…

As I had qualified both of my Dartmoors, my friend rode Leo for me who was good but a little babyish in his show on the ground. Windy decided after a speedy go round he didn’t want to play ball so although he had one of the top conformation marks his ride mark left him out the placings. Moonie did a fantastic go round and I was really hopeful he was going to give a good account of himself, but again his lack of experience showed and we had baby mistakes. Bam on the other hand didn’t take any prisoners being the princess she is, but sadly wasn’t quite the conformation judge’s cup of tea. That’s showing and that completed a busy few weeks for us!
Chloe