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It’s been a busy few weeks for me. It has been said that the two most stressful things in life are moving house and divorce. I disagree with this. Divorce is a piece of cake! My wife, Natalie, and I have just moved house and yard mid-season and it’s not to be recommended.

However, now we are in we love the new place and think it’s going to be fantastic — when the builders have gone.

The location is great, especially with Arena UK being close as so many shows are held there. The latest of these is the North of England Summer Show, where competitors came from all over the country for a crack at the big prize-money on offer.

It was lovely that the amateur supreme championships were awarded equal prize-money to the open, with first prizes of £1,000 and big money all the way down the line.

The Hollings team know how to get the mixture just right to attract such big entries. How fabulous that superb sponsors were found and that the prize pot was just over £19,000 for the series. Showing is certainly not lacking the wow factor.

I was grateful to the sponsors for the generous prize-money, as I’m currently having to satisfy my wife’s taste for granite worktops in the new kitchen.

Find those extra gears at home

We’re mid-way through July and as competitors, we’ve had the luxury of showing off our horses in some fabulous main rings, where judges can see horses’ paces at their best.

However, main rings can also highlight certain weaknesses in their way of going. For
instance, if your horse can’t gallop, don’t go to the Great Yorkshire Show — it would be like betting on a three-legged horse.

Nothing beats the thrill of galloping a good horse in those big grass arenas, but it’s so disappointing and embarrassing watching a horse die half-way and the rider’s arms and legs moving faster than the horse.

My advice is get out of your manèges and find the two extra gears that you need.

Some horses are “county” horses and relish the open spaces to flow and operate. Then there’s the “London” horse — referring to HOYS when it was at Wembley — which can collect and show off in a smaller space, and of course cope with the atmosphere too. If your horse can accommodate to both environments, then you’re cooking with gas.

Promising young judging blood

I have been really impressed this season with the standard of probationary ride judges.

Young, new blood is essential for our sport to continue and flourish, and it is very encouraging to see some new talent. The probationary system is a great concept and enables new judges to put into practice what they know, while being guided by a more experienced judge. The more horses they assess and ride, the more experience they will gain.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 16 July 2015