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Royal Windsor Horse Show blog: scaled down — but with scaled up entries

Royal Windsor — my local show — is undoubtedly a drier, greener show than last year — but also substantially pared down.

The pageant hosted here in 2012 involving an international cast of thousands to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, resulted in large numbers of visitors and a massive stage and grandstands.

This year, the seating areas are much reduced and the members’ area is a little smaller. On the other hand, how brilliant to see some of our very best showjumpers riding this year.

Nick Skelton was competing yesterday (9 May) —  he’s not been to Windsor for a while — plus fellow Olympic gold medallist Peter Charles, Tina Fletcher, Pippa Funnell, Tim Stockdale and others.

I have always loved the accessibility and informality around the warm-up area at Windsor, the chance to chat with riders I haven’t caught up with for a while, and watch them warming-up their horses and so on.

Strong winds made for some very unsettled show horses in the divided main ring, with the metal piping in the grandstands becoming eerie flutes, played by erratic gusts.

Dressage rider (but today a ride judge) Lizzie Murray was praised for her patience and soothing influence aboard skitty horses. Another showing judge described the class she presided over as having “some lovely animals — but not strength in depth. It’s just a sign of the times”.

As ever, the stands were packed for the sometimes considerable carnage of the inter-hunt relay (well done to victors the VWH). And the Bahrainies, who have sponsored the new 120km endurance ride that takes place today (10 May) in the Great Park and Ascot racecourse area, have traditional musicians performing, plus a number of showjumpers riding here.

By late afternoon the wind picked up again, and rain blew in. I was relieved to find my mare’s lovely new wool travelling rug still in my car from a trip cross-country schooling the day before. Cocooned in it, I watched the Land Rover two-phase jumping class.

Head to Royal Windsor if you can to see a stellar field of riders — but dress warmly.

Lucy

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