The highs, the lows and everything in between, H&H’s team of showing reporters have seen it all.
But which show ring moments from their careers stand out the most?
1. ‘He wondered what all the fuss was about’
“One win that sticks in my mind was at Keysoe Spring in 2019. Leading names were out in force and you could have heard a pin drop when Allister Hood rode into the indoor arena on the lightweight cob Our Cashel Blue.
“Lady Caroline Tyrell’s 2017 HOYS supreme champion was diagnosed with cancer of the shoulder in September 2018 and after a tricky operation and a long recuperation, this was his return to the ring. That’s not to mention the fact that Allister had not been in the best of health and had recovered from a heart attack.
“They put on a magical performance to win their class and the championship and left the ring to a huge round of applause from their defeated rivals.
“This sporting reaction from many of Britain’s top producers left Allister in tears, Lady Caroline was totally overcome and I have to admit that even the reporter had to get the hanky out.
“And what about Our Cashel Blue? He wondered what all the fuss was about and mugged everyone for treats.”
2. ‘You could have heard a pin drop’
“When Liz Walkinshaw’s stunning riding horse Broadstone Dee came out of line to do her Winston Churchill supreme show at RIHS in 2002 with producer Jo Bates, you could have heard a pin drop.
“The pair floated off around Hickstead’s magical international arena, gliding on oiled wheels from one pace to another with seamless elegance, and the resulting applause when the judges’ marks were displayed fully reflected what we had been privileged to witness.”
3. ‘The oldest person ever to run a horse at the show’
“At the Royal Welsh show, 2015, the 83-year-old breeder, Dr Wynne Davies MBE, leapt into the record books.
To roars of approval from the grandstand crowd, he completed a full-length of the main ring at the halter of Ceulan Calon Lan, reserve supreme equine champion and Cuddy qualifier. At the end of his run, he handed Calon Lan back to his owner (Bethan Donati), took off his Harris Tweed Grouse hat and gave a bow before returning to his seat in the grandstand
“In doing so he became the oldest person ever to run a horse at the show in its 111-year history, and a record which he still holds.”
4. ‘He literally took my breath away’
“One of the most memorable moments at the Royal International (RIHS) was when Susie Eddis and 13hh worker Beat The Boss took the 2015 supreme pony title.
“Beat The Boss — who used to be dressed up as Rudolph and pull Santa’s Sleigh in Ireland — was only the second working hunter pony to take the title.
“I was privileged to be one of the supreme judges that day and although I had seen him jump a brilliant clear in his performance round, it was only in the international arena supreme championship that we could properly see his brilliant paces, self-carriage, great gallop and wonderful manners. When he trotted out past me, he literally took my breath away.”
5. ‘The scene soon resembled an episode from Holby City’
“One of the most memorable days of reporting I’ve ever experienced, was when an explosion and disqualification occurred within minutes of each other at NPS Area 4’s show in 2012.
“There was high drama during the Olympia championship presentation in the main ring when a burger van near the secretary’s pavilion became engulfed in flames following two gas explosions, injuring the staff inside and customers in the queue. Paramedics were on hand immediately, shortly followed by the main emergency services. The scene soon resembled an episode from Holby City.
“The direct Olympia qualification was also made null and void after one of the judges, Martin Jones alerted Kerry Humble, the rider of the champion Walstead Cartier, to the fact that he had a previous connection with the pony on discovering her pony’s name.
“Consequently Jonathan Steven’s Dales stallion Waterside Black Prince was promoted to champion and took the Olympia ticket .
“On a happier note – no one was seriously injured in the blast and Walstead Cartier made the long return journey north to Harrogate several weeks later to qualify for Olympia at the Countryside Live event.”
6. ‘It was positive and motivational to see a quality mare come up’
“Natives hold a special place in my heart so watching the top ponies of the season come together for the overall Mountain and Moorland (M&M) championship at HOYS is definitely one of my season highlights.
“One of the most memorable winners was the Connemara mare Skargaardens Delicious Love who claimed the overall crown in 2017 with Kelly Jones. Her movement was simply breathtaking and despite only being a five-year-old at the time, she was just impeccable. As stallions often make up the majority of the native classes, it was positive and motivational to see a quality mare come up to beat the boys.
“I have also enjoyed watching Emma Boardman’s Welsh section D gelding Dyffryngwy Sir Picasso over his career for similar reasons; he’s a pony who has proved that a good gelding can win at top level. He is such a lovely example of the breed, always gives a stand out performance and has such a great partnership with Emma. To watch them win HOYS two years on the trot was a lovely.”
7. ‘A super-competitive, nailbiting ride-off’
“The hairs on the back of my neck stood up again in September 2015, when a consummately professional — and ambitious — show earned Jordan Cook his first supreme title at the British Show Horse Association National Championships.
“He won with his beloved hack, Fleetwater Xecutive, after a super-competitive, nailbiting ride-off against Simon Charlesworth and the cob, Fait Acobbli. The supportive audience caught the mood too, and a packed house almost raised the roof with cheers and applause, even before the marks were known.”
8. ‘Hardly a dry eye in the house’
“A great come-back memory was in 2010 when Robert Walker suffered a debilitating brain virus at the beginning of the season.
Barely riding until the end of the year, Robert and Lucy Smith-Crallan’s four-year-old large riding horse Holtess D Day took the novice riding horse championship at the BSHA championships at Addington. Everyone knew Robert was very weak, and you could have heard a pin drop as he was riding. But when he halted and doffed his cap, tumultuous applause followed and D Day stood like a rock. Hardly a dry eye in the house.”
9. ‘Her unshod action was breathtaking’
“Having won at the Royal Welsh show under David Blair (Waxwing stud) as a yearling in 1999, Synod Lady Lilian made a return trip in 2013 as a 15-year-old broodmare with a filly foal at foot to be crowned overall section C, and overall equine champion under nobody other than Carl Hester MBE.
“In the intervening time she had exchanged hands and sold by her breeders, Cerdin and Doreen Jones, to the Williams family of the Ringside stud in Cardiff. Lady Lilian went on to stand Cuddy Supreme in-hand champion at HOYS that year. This was the thirteenth occasion for a Synod bred pony to clinch the Lady Chetwynd cup for champion section C at the Royal Welsh show – a record which they hold to this day.
“Her unshod action was breathtaking coupled with presence and beauty. She will be one of the most captivating section C mares to grace the Royal Welsh show field.”
10. ‘Her smile was a joy’
“One of my favourite and most emotional showing moments was at Derbyshire Festival when 12-year-old Maddy Turner was called forward to win a huge HOYS junior ridden mountain and moorland large breeds class with Dales gelding Carrock King Kenny.
“Maddy suffers from an auto immune disease and undergoes weekly chemotherapy sessions. Maddy, from Radcliffe near Bolton, was then called forward to take the championship.
“Even the judge, Kerry Wainwright, was emotional. Maddy was tiny on her pony but rode him to perfection. Nobody round the ringside knew until after the championship, so it was very emotional. ‘She really thought about her show and her smile was a joy.’ said Kerry at the time. ‘I had no idea about her medical condition until afterwards as neither Jill nor I had judged her before.’”
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11. ‘Help flushing out a flasher’
“One of the funniest moments when a request went far beyond the remit of a reporter was at Ribble Valley riding club show.
“My local Riding Club, where myself and my brother Nigel first started competing, received last minute RIHS qualifiers during the FMD crisis and so I was commissioned to report the show.
“While standing at the ringside making notes for the report, I was approached by an irate couple asking if I was in charge of the show. I told them that I was writing for a leading equestrian magazine and duly pointed them in the direction of the secretary’s tent.
“Apparently and not for the first time, they thought I looked like a show official but on this occasion wanted some help flushing out a flasher in the nearby rhododendron bushes!
“When later relating the story to the showing editor, she chided me for not saying the leading equestrian magazine – Horse and Hound!”
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