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What a Hickstead Derby. It really is the one showjumping class that unfailingly has it all. Horses need an incredible jump, the courage of an eventer and the staying power of a point-to-pointer.

How wonderful it was to see 3 brilliant young lady riders do so well in the class. My heart bled for Charlotte Platt when she fell at fence 12. Until then, she seemed to me to have “winner” stamped all over her.

Aside from being our Hickstead Derby report issue, this is also my last as Editor, a role that I suspect is not altogether unlike that of being a hunt master.

Handing on the horn

The world of H&H is highly seasonal and full of interesting characters. Days “at the office” frequently leave you exhilarated, pooped or a little flat — and you can never predict which. Obstacles approach thick and fast and clearing them feels fabulous. But you can also find yourself hauling yourself up insanely early, getting soaked to the skin, or spending ages following a scent that comes to nothing.

After more than 12 wonderful years carrying the horn, this is my final comment, as I stand down as Horse & Hound’s 5th, 1st female and final Editor. Reflecting the changing face of media, H&H will hereafter be overseen by Sarah Jenkins, who knows this title well, and who as Content Director will focus on new commercial activities as well as journalism. I wish her every success in this new role.

So much has happened in horses and hunting in the past 12 years. I will always remember campaigning for hunting and have such admiration for the hunting world’s resilience and courage post-ban. (Sadly, I never kept the amusing letter I received around this time from a “Mr D Mented”, threatening me — and hunting’s other followers — with a very different fate.)

Nick Skelton at home 2012

As these photos show, I’ve had the privilege to meet, observe and interview many wonderful horse lovers and top names in many spheres. I will forever be thankful for the time they have given so generously. Few publications enjoy such strong a relationship with the stars of their field.

Equally memorable has been leading my simply brilliant team through our coverage of London 2012, for which we won a raft of editorial awards. Together we’ve overcome ash clouds, deep freezes, floods and disease — the issue always gets out.

The best relationship

I have visited many wonderful people and places (with Spruce Meadows and the Dublin Show still unfulfilled ambitions), and occasionally found myself talking on BBC Breakfast sofas or being put through my paces by Paxman. But best of all has been the relationship with you, the reader (how often have I been accosted with “Are you the Horse & Hound lady?”) and hearing your feedback and ideas. Thank you, most of all, for making every hour in this office feel thoroughly worthwhile.

I hope, in my time here, H&H has developed its reputation for knowing its mind and expressing it plainly and accurately. I have tried to help stimulate discussion, shape opinion and guide energies on important subjects in the equestrian world. While I know I haven’t always got it right, I hope that what feather-ruffling I have done has been constructive. Magazines that never say boo to a goose don’t achieve very much.

If a fairy godmother were to wave me off with some parting wishes, I would ask her to bang heads together at Westminster over hunting; to sprinkle sanity-infused pixie dust over Britain to stop people breeding, collecting and neglecting horses that neither they, nor anyone, really wants, and finally that more people come to discover the pleasure that is being around horses.

H&H played a central role in my own equestrian discoveries as a child; I hope it continues to do that for thousands more in the years to come. As I kick on towards new adventures (yes, with my approved hat properly fastened), I would love it if our paths cross again. But whatever lies ahead, I sense that, journalistically at least, “the best of my fun, I owed it to Horse & Hound”.

Lucy Higginson