Opinion

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Royal Windsor is one of the highlights of the showing calendar. It always has a buzz about it and whether you’re a competitor or a spectator, it’s a show like no other. Where else could you get to stand at the ringside just feet away from The Queen, or even perform in front of her, in such a wonderful setting?

I thoroughly enjoyed a day of watching the mountain and moorland (M&M) in-hand and various other classes on Friday. The youngstock classes are a great opportunity to spot future ridden stars, made easier with a ring layout that allowed spectators to watch three breed classes at once, culminating with a fabulous overall championship in the castle arena.

It was encouraging to see all the native classes on Friday and Saturday bring in large crowds. The commentary added to the occasion and gave lots of information about our native breeds, which non-horsey visitors seemed to enjoy. This is also a social occasion. You can bring non-horsey friends to Royal Windsor and know there will be plenty to interest them.

Time pressures

A couple of tweaks wouldn’t go amiss in the ridden classes, though. The biggest disappointment was that on the go-round in the M&M classes, riders weren’t asked to change the rein. It was explained to us that this was due to lack of time. I’ve seen the same approach taken at some large county shows where judges and stewards are put under immense pressure to get through classes in a tight schedule.

Obviously, riders show their ponies on both reins during individual shows, but the  go-round provides an important first impression. Shouldn’t judges need to assess the way of going, in company, on both reins?

In the M&M championship — where again, the judges may have been pressed for time — one winning pony was not given the chance to gallop. That rider drew the stewards’ and judges’ attention to this and insisted on galloping. A huge cheer from the watching crowd showed there was a lot of support for such a brave move.

I realise it’s easy to criticise, and difficult to keep a show of this stature running to time.

But when you’ve paid £56 to enter a class, you are surely entitled to perform a go-round on both reins. Furthermore, as a championship is judged as a separate class, all contenders should be allowed the same opportunity to impress.

Due to the kudos of shows like Royal Windsor, you find that most grooms make a concerted effort to look the part on the day. As competitors, we should remember that the person who comes into the ring to groom for us in any class, at any show, is also part of the overall picture and that grooms should always be dressed appropriately.

As the top men’s fashion designer Tom Ford once said: “Dressing well is a form of good manners.”

Ref Horse & Hound; 25 May 2017