Getting to the Royal Windsor Horse Show, which takes place this week (9-13 May 2018), is a career highlight for many — not much beats the prestige of competing in The Queen’s back garden. But things don’t always go to plan...
1. A food thief
Dogs have not been allowed into the showground since 1944 — in part thanks to a lurcher who stole a piece of chicken from King George VI’s lunch plate at the first show in 1943; a mortifying incident for the committee.
2. A close shave
“I had bagged myself a chair on the members’ lawn to report on the H&H British Isles showing championship final in the early 1990s, when two chaps came and stood in front of me in deep conversation,” remembers H&H showing reporter Tricia Johnson. “I sighed loudly and moved my chair, before one of the men sauntered across and stood in front of me again. I was about to say something until he turned, and in profile I recognised him as the Duke of Edinburgh. A close shave…”
3. Loose horse!
“We were just tucking into dinner after a busy day at Windsor when Simon’s phone rang,” says Natalie Reynolds, wife of producer Simon. “It was fellow competitor Simon Charlesworth. Simon answered, to be told, ‘Don’t worry, we’ve caught him now, but one of your cobs got out!’ We quickly hot-footed it back to the showground and were horrified to find the whole of the front of the box on the other side of the stable aisle. The cob was completely unscathed, but apparently a cannon fire had unsettled him — it looked like a juggernaut had ripped the stable up. Moral of the story? Read the schedule to find out when there may be cannon fire.”
4. Pungent problems
The day that bad weather caused an underground effluent tank to leak and overflow into the craft tent stands out for event organiser Simon Brooks-Ward, who remembers saying to a girl who was selling potpourri: “You have the right product for the right occasion.” “But it didn’t go down quite as well as I had hoped,” he laughs in hindsight.
5. Panicked Friesians
The Duke of Edinburgh’s carriage was clipped and a showing class disrupted at Windsor in 2013 by a pair of runaway carriage horses. Prince Philip was not hurt, but the panicked Friesians careered into the Copper Horse Arena, where the intermediate show hunter class was taking place. Luckily, a spectator was on the ball. He quickly leapt over the fence and fortunately managed to stop the pair.
6. Tactical dismounting
Tantoni Sir Soccrates gave Alice Oppenheimer a sticky moment in the prize-giving in 2015 (pictured, top). Having just won the advanced medium freestyle, the former licensed stallion produced some impressive airs above ground that forced Alice to make a ‘tactical dismount’ on her lap of honour.
7. A fall to remember
“Last year, I took my veteran Popsters Loaded Weapon,” says H&H blogger and show rider Chloe Chubb. “With 37-plus in our class, I wasn’t expecting a placing, but I was delighted when we were called in fourth. ‘Jacob’ had got himself a little excited waiting in line after standing next to a ‘keen’ mare, and started bouncing around as the back line left the arena. He caught me off-guard, bolted and I ended up coming off — a 20-year-old veteran deposited me in The Queen’s back garden.”
Don’t miss this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (3 May 2017) where we look back at 75 years of the Royal Windsor Horse Show, in our special preview issue
For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday