Ahead of next month’s Royal Windsor Horse Show (9-13 May 2018) novice and amateur cobs judge Katie Duxbury reveals what she’ll be looking for on show day

Who is Katie Duxbury?

Based in Lancashire, Katie works full time as an aircraft maintenance engineer and has been showing since she was at primary school. Often seen out on the circuit with cob supremo Sue-Helen Shuttleworth, Katie is well known for her results in M&M classes.

Biggest win?

“My her biggest win to date was at the Royal Welsh in 2009, on my one and only visit to Builth Wells,” says Katie. “It was knee-deep mud and I did some acrobatics during the conformation section.” She has also ridden and produced ponies at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), Royal International (RIHS) and Olympia.

What is her judging experience?

> Panels: She sits on BSHA and BSPS panels and is currently on probation to become a CHAPS judge.

> Favourite appointment: BSHA spring festival 2017 —  “It was my first judging appointment for the BSHA and it was a wonderful experience where I rode some fantastic young horses,” Katie says.

> Issues in the discipline: “I think one of the major issues in showing at the moment is judges judging judges. It is a difficult one to solve. As a competitor, I would rather be judged by someone who has knowledge and experience on the type of animal I am exhibiting, even if they are a competitor.”

> Windsor 2018: She will be judging the ride section of the novice and amateur cobs on Friday 11 May. “This is my first time judging at Windsor and I am really excited,” she says. “I have two extremely experienced senior judges with me and I am really looking forward to the day.

What will she be looking for on show day?

  • I will be looking for the cob that walks into the ring looking like he owns it. He must be looking through his bridle and smiling at me.
  • When I get on a cob he should be forward thinking, in front of the leg and polite.
  • He shouldn’t anticipate and should always wait to be asked.
  • He must have a good stride — no one enjoys trotting around on a sewing machine.
  • In a novice class I fully expect that some animals may need a bit of support and that’s fine — genuine greenness or a small spook are all acceptable in my eyes and I wouldn’t frown at a novice being exhibited in a snaffle bridle.

What are Katie’s pet hates?

  • My pet hate is bad ring craft. Get yourself in a good space. There is always space to be found in the ring. Look around and plan ahead.
  • One thing I cannot abide is napping — with the amount of practice sessions that are run throughout the country everyone has had the opportunity to iron out issues like napping.
  • A recurring no-no I find as a ride judge is badly fitting tack. No judge wants to ride a heavyweight cob in shoe lace reins.  Stirrup leathers with not enough holes and stirrup irons that are too small are all an issue too.

What does her ideal cob look like?

  • My perfect cob must have a good front, depth, and enough quality limb.
  • My all-time favourite cob would be the lightweight cob Tom Cobley — I really enjoy hearing the stories and looking at all the old pictures of him. I would have loved a ride on him.

And finally…

  • My advice for those competing at Windsor would be to make sure you allow plenty of time to get to your ring, as it is a long way from the horseboxes. If you’re exhibiting a novice or amateur cob make sure you have enough holes in your leathers. I am only 5’4. My main piece of advice is to enjoy it — there is no other show like it.

Don’t miss our special 11-page Royal Windsor Horse Show preview in the 3 May 2018 issue of Horse & Hound magazine, and our full report from the show in the 17 May 2018 issue

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