Opinion

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Being sidelined through injury gave me a new perspective on Royal Windsor’s supreme. It’s always interesting when you have judges from outside the discipline, but I think Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin were spot on — and, of course, Charlotte started her career as a show pony rider.

Rob Walker’s lightweight hunter winner would have been my choice, too. This horse has everything you could ask for in a show horse, and full marks to the judges for recognising that.

Walking into the ring with The Queen’s Barbers Shop to retire him officially was an emotional experience.

It was when we loaded him to come home and I realised he was saying goodbye to showing and all that goes with it that it really got to me.

He won’t be retired to the field, as many people have assumed. He will keep his main yard box, be looked after in the same way and enjoy hacking and schooling. If my rehabilitation goes to plan, then in November he will be the first horse I get on.

He looks amazing and is fit and enjoying life. I strongly believe that older show horses should retire from mainstream showing when they are at the top of their game, not when they start slipping down the ranks. I hope to do some dressage with him and I hope we’ll still be invited to raceday parades to publicise the work of Retraining of Racehorses.

‘Offer so much’

Royal Windsor is always a wonderful experience, which is why so many competitors and spectators flock there. Moving the riding horses to the last day was a good decision and I hope it stays in place, as it was a nightmare trying to organise hunters and riding horses on the same day.

It was encouraging to see so many contest the SEIB working show horse class. These classes offer so much to so many and I’d love to see more in the schedules.

Unfortunately, dates clashed with Newark and Notts and South Suffolk. I love South Suffolk, but haven’t been able to compete there for several years.

Can’t show organisers liaise and avoid clashes, not only to boost revenue but to safeguard qualifiers? We’re in danger of developing a vicious circle, because if qualifiers don’t get enough support, shows will lose them.

Get online

On-the-day entries have become essential. The argument that they must be made in advance to allow catalogues to be printed doesn’t work: for a start, how many people buy them? Everything else is online, from schedules to entries, so start lists should also be posted — and final, printed versions could be available on the showground.

Special shows do, of course, need souvenir catalogues. I struggled to find one at Royal Windsor and ended up buying one at the main gate on the last day. It was worth the walk, because there’s so much in it.

The moral of the catalogue story is that if you’re going to print one, make sure it’s worth buying and easy to find.

Ref Horse & Hound; 24 May 2018