Opinion

The standard of the LeMieux BSPS mountain and moorland supreme championship was generally very good. It is hard to produce a native pony to look its best at this time of year — I know this because I’ve done it myself. Factor in a lot of competitors working full-time too and not having facilities at home; it all adds up to making it harder.

My co-judges and I were all happy with our best of breed winners and they were of a good type. When you have four judges together, invariably each one has different priorities on both conformation and way of going.

I like true-to-type ponies with a bit of star quality; Anthony Perkins penalised anything that was over-bent. It was nice to see there weren’t many overweight animals, but I was disappointed in some of the production. There is a fine line between over-producing a native pony and keeping it looking natural. I’d rather see them with slightly more coat but understand that they need to be worked at home and some animals sweat.

As one of the conformation judges, it was important to me that every competitor showed their pony to their best ability in-hand, but this side of the show is easily neglected. Standing a pony up correctly and then trotting them up freely can gain you an extra mark. You might have the best-looking pony in the world, but if it’s not presented properly you’re not showing its full potential.

Sometimes nerves get the better of you. The ridden bit is stressful and when it’s finished you get to the in-hand section, take a breath and relax too much. I’ve done this myself but as conformation makes up 50% of the marks, it’s just as important. Some ponies weren’t shown to their best in-hand. You don’t get a lot of time and there isn’t much room — but every second must count.

Our champion, Cadlanvalley Sandpiper, was balanced, not over-bent, didn’t put a foot wrong and was true to type. It was a worthy winner.

Ref Horse & Hound; 21 December 2017