Could your horse be a RIHS champion? Walk this year’s working hunter course to find out…

  • Think your horse has what it takes to jump round the RIHS working hunter track? Walk the course and find out…

    The working hunter tracks built at the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) are world famous, and for good reason. A true hunting-style course with iconic permanent fences, only the boldest, bravest and most agile combinations return home with a clean score sheet.

    This year, course designer Kevin Millman treated competitors in The Saracen Horse Feeds supreme working hunter classes to a flowing 12-fence track, making use of the grass space on offer in the Agria Lifetime Equine Insurance Ring Five. Riders were required to balance their horses and use their ring to cope with the changes of direction. Fitness of both horses and riders was also tested.

    H&H watched the lightweight class which kicked off at 7.30am on Friday 28 July to see how competitors faired. Only three were eliminated, and there were a handful of clear rounds from the 37 catalogued entires.

    Walk 2023 RIHS working hunter track to predict if you and your horse have what it takes to get round.

    Fence one

    Welcome to the 2023 RIHS working hunter course. Competitors began the 12-fence track with this oxer complete with a filler to the front. Most decided to approach from the left rein. Only two horses got stage-fright here, with one stopping but then finding his stride, and another being retired for another day.

    Fence two

    A skinny upright that was approached from the right rein. Riders were required to really use the space at the top end of the ring to nail the turn after landing from number one, while balancing their horses who were keen to get on with the task ahead. This fence proved to be one of the two main bogey fences, with eight combinations knocking it down, most of them swiping the top pole with their front feet. There were also two stops here.

    Fence three

    Five horses knocked this sizeable spread, which was relatively unproblematic for those who had cleared one and two well.

    Fence four

    By this stage in the course the combinations were finding their rhythm, so this iconic upright of white Hickstead rails with two jumping options heading towards the collecting ring was a breeze.

    Fence five

    The famous Hickstead hedge sat at five. All of the horses took this one on with ease, with most making lovely efforts.

    Fence six AB

    The only double of the course, requiring accuracy. Two knocked the second fence, and one horse also had a stop here after slipping into part B.

    Fence seven

    Approached on the right rein, it required a smooth turn from the double. It was unproblematic, with the contrast of the white rails and dark filler to the front encouraging the horses pick their feet up.

    Fence eight

    Another iconic permanent fence, which most of the horses soared over. Only one horse knocked it. The photographers were focusing on this fence, too, so competitors can go home with their official RIHS photo for the mantlepiece.

    Fence nine

    A decent oxer with a brick filler to the front. Six horses had this down.

    Fence 10

    Three from home and the poley upright sat in front of a permanent ditch. One horse stopped here, and a few had the poles down as they noticed the hole in the ground a little too late in the day.

    Fence 11

    Surprisingly, this skinny oxer with brush filler was the most problematic jump of the 12. Over a dozen horses knocked it down and the only rider who came off parted company here; coming in with too much pace and not setting the horses up were among the reasons for the errors.

    Fence 12

    The final fence, a wide rustic bridge coming away from the collecting ring. Six combinations had it down, and one also refused here.

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