Q: There has been controversy recently over fat show horses. I want to show my four-year-old in Novice hunter classes this season and while I don’t want him to be overweight, I don’t want to go too far the other way. Is there a happy medium?

Show rider and producer Robert Oliver replies: A show horse should be well-muscled but not fat. These are not three-day eventers, so should not be too lean, but nor should they be overweight.

The best guide I can give to producing a show hunter in what I believe to be the correct condition is that you should feel thathe is in the right shape for autumn hunting, or the opening meet.

Getting a horse in the right condition and shape is a mixture of correct feeding and correct work.

A good topline is built up through proper schooling, not bulk. You are right to make sure you do not have your young horse too fat, as this will put a strain on his joints and can lead to problems later on.

It is a mistake to think that excess condition can hide conformation faults, and a good judge will see throughit.