Dan Williams’ showing blog: I can injure myself making a cup of tea

The British Show Horse Association (BSHA) Hunter Championship and National Championship shows, which are held over three consecutive days, have become one of my favourite shows of the season. Not only are they fantastically run shows at a great venue, but they are also a great place to catch up with friends as almost everyone goes to compete or spectate over the three days.

Another treat over the three days is the amount of evening performances there are. With the classic supreme championship evening performance for most horse ‘types’ and a selection of classes like pairs, it makes for a great evening to sit and watch with a prosecco or two. It was even more fun this year as I made it into the large riding horse classic supreme evening performance on Saucy (Broadshard Simplicity) and finished in sixth place (pictured above). Saucy loves showing off and as we came off of the corner to extend, he really went for it. Like a true gentleman, he pulled up beautifully at the end. Below is the video of the moment that I posted on my Instagram page — the commentary from my friends is quite entertaining too!

We spent the full three days there and had great fun in all our classes. Thursday saw Shelley, my friend and yard manager, and I go head-to-head in the Horse Of the Year Show (HOYS) small hunter class. Shelly was piloting my own Chriskells Otis while I rode my friend, Hayley Macdonald’s, Spotlight (Darcy). Both horses went beautifully for us and the ride judge. This was Spotlight’s second time in the show ring, so we were delighted with how well he took everything in his stride.

A quick swap of horses and we headed back with a lorry load ready for the next two days. My parents’ youngster, ASF About Reward, had the day to chill on Friday but Saucy and Archie both had classes. They were both superstars in the large riding horse classic supreme, and in a huge class of horses we were thrilled to have one of them through to the final in the evening performance.

Myself and Shelley with Archie (Agher Vectra Clover)

Time ran away with me in the day and I had little time to re-plait Saucy before his class in the evening. I was outside my stable watching Louise Bell’s YouTube tutorial on how to tie a stock, a skill I have never mastered but have always managed to do by following Louise’s instructions from the video. Thankfully, someone saw that I was in a total flap and running out of time and kindly came and tied it for me. Finishing sixth was a great excuse to open the bubbles!

Archie was eligible for the novice class on Friday too and Shelley did a fantastic job with him in a ring that was nose to tail. His owners, Sally and Greg Williams always turn him out to perfection — it’s honestly incredible how well they can turn a horse out. Greg always does Saucy’s quarter marks for me if he is at a show and they look like they have been airbrushed onto him. Sally kindly gave me a lesson in how to replicate the style of plaits she has opted for this year and I always ask for her approval once I have finished plaiting now as hers are incredible.

Saturday was another busy one with the arrival of The Baroness II (Darcie). Having a Darcy and now a Darcie on the team does get a bit confusing, even for us! There were a few more rosettes for the team on Saturday — The Baroness II Picked up fourth in the cob mares class with her owner Ailsa Duff taking the reins, and Agher Vectra Clover (Archie) collected fifth in the restricted large riding horse class.

Shelley on board my own Chriskells Otis in the HOYS small riding horse class

Saturday was supposed to be the babies’ turn, but as I am an idiot and can injure myself making a cup of tea (that’s a joke in itself — the only drink I make myself is a G&T), I found myself in A&E so was unable to run him. He has so far proven to be a little star, bringing home a first place rosette and reserve champion at his first ever show, and hasn’t come home without a prize since. I am really excited about his future, but he has some big shoes to fill as he will be taking over from Saucy after his novice season next year.

One of the best parts of the entire show for me was seeing everyone qualifying for HOYS. This is the last chance of the season to qualify and is the only show where the qualification passes all the way down the line to the highest placed unqualified horse. It normally goes down to third if the first and second placed horses have already qualified, but stops there meaning that at some shows, no one qualifies. It’s always very exciting to see how far down the line the ticket goes. I qualified in sixth place at this show a few years back, which was my first time qualifying for HOYS and was a day I won’t forget.

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I have said for years that it must be strange if you qualify here but aren’t in the placings, as you’d go home with the knowledge that you were going to HOYS but nothing to remember it with in terms of rosettes other than photos you might choose to buy. This year, I contacted the BSHA and offered to sponsor a ‘golden ticket’ rosette. The BSHA thought it was a great idea, so a gold rosette was awarded to the person who qualified in every HOYS qualifying class at the show. It is something I will continue to sponsor going forward as it was great for spectators to be able to see who had qualified in every class as well as being something very special to be able to take home.

The golden ticket rosette

As much as I would have liked to win a couple of classes for my own owners, it would have been very strange to have to accept my own rosette and I am sure I would have had a few heckles of ‘it’s a fix’ from my friends who would have found it very funny.

In my next blog, I will be covering my time at Bucks County which was a great show for our Marwyn Equestrian Show Team.

Dan

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