Opinion

There are only a handful of shows that, as a team, we would compete at regardless of who was judging. We normally chart the year selecting the judges and the venues which will suit each combination.

Royal Windsor is one of those shows that we allow the riders on our team to compete at “just because its Windsor”. Alongside the statutory river photo, the children cherish the official photos with the castle in the background. I would love to be a fly on the wall when some of the younger children go back to their respective schools and tell their teachers they spent the weekend with The Queen at Windsor.

This is the 75th anniversary of Royal Windsor Horse Show and the organisers have some extra special activities and displays planned. The show is always a highlight of the season for many in the showing community; some enjoy the social aspect and the opportunity to ride in such great rings and others love the atmosphere and the fact that they are riding in The Queen’s back garden with Her Majesty in attendance.

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However, over the years the Royal Windsor showing experience has changed significantly and I lament the passing of the days when it was a showcase of novices. I can remember standing at the side of the novice show pony ring watching them two deep on the go-round, with each pony as quality as the next.

You knew that if you won the novices at Windsor, your pony had a very special future ahead. Equally, if you were looking to buy a pony and saw that he had won the Windsor novices, you knew that he was of the right calibre.

Sadly, this has been lost. Last year saw only three ponies forward in the 128cm novice. Competitors should understand that it’s not all about qualifiers and should value the opportunity to showcase their youngsters at such a prestigious show. If we don’t utilise these classes, the shows will simply stop putting them on — we will have no opportunity to get young ponies out.

A big ask

Those of you competing at Royal Windsor for the first time should not underestimate how buzzy the atmosphere is. You can’t exactly practise taking your pony past horse-drawn carriages or meeting the full Household Cavalry head-on at home, but you can make sure that you are well-prepared in other ways.

Try to plan your day so you have plenty of time for working in and, if you are unsure, seek the advice of the professionals. Keeping combinations safe in that type of environment is paramount, and true professionals will be only too happy to offer help.

Good luck to all competing there, both first-timers and experienced partnerships. Enjoy the whole experience, including the social elements. Prepare animals and jockeys as best you can, and remember that it’s not necessarily the colour of the rosette at this show that should be your lasting memory.

Ref Horse & Hound; 3 May 2018