Townend Schubert was a worthy native champion at Olympia, the London International Horse Show. He’s a striking Fell pony who is beautifully produced and he really sold himself.

I also liked third placed Benbreac Of Croila. He’s a lovely stamp with a good front; I could picture him carrying a stag off the hills, which is what Highlands are bred for.

There were 21 stallions forward and, as a conformation judge, I felt that a lot of riders could improve their handling of them. A number were pushy and ill-mannered, trying to bite their handler and turning their head, which spoilt the overall picture. They should work on that at home — it is important that ponies are respectful of their handler.

A number of competitors trotted too fast in the ride-round, pushing ponies out of their stride, thus losing overall cadence and balance. This is the first impression judges get, so don’t be in a hurry.

On the whole, the calibre of finalists was high and everything was beautifully turned out. It’s never easy to get the coat right on a native in December.

It was an interesting cross-section of breeds and my co-judge Len Bigley and I felt we used our 50 marks apiece well, ranging from early 30s up to the mid-40s.

H&H 24 December 2015