Ahead of next week’s London International Horse Show, Olympia BSPS Heritage ridden mountain and moorland final (Sunday 23 December), Horse & Hound speaks to ride judge David Machin, who reveals what he’ll be looking for on show day…

Who is David Machin?

Based in Market Drayton, Shropshire, David is one of the most well-respected judges on the showing circuit and is popular face on the hunting scene. He keeps seven horses with his wife Catherine at their yard and hunts twice a week with the Cheshire. He started showing in the mid 70s and has since gone on, with his family-run show team, to win at all major shows including Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), The Royal International and Windsor with cobs, hunters, coloureds and riding horses. He also owned and ran a riding school for many years. David has a strong passion for buying and selling horses and is responsible for scouting out many show ring stars.

What is his judging experience?

> Panels: He sits on BSHA, SHB (GB), BSPS and NPS judging panels.

> Favourite appointment: David has judged at HOYS three times and he says that the NEC atmosphere is second to none: “To be invited to judge there is very exciting and special. I also love judging the hunters at the Great Yorkshire.”

> Issues in the discipline: “I think, like a lot of judges, that I would rather judge without marks. I also think a lot of riders are playing it safe these days; I would rather see them take a chance.”

> Olympia 2018: “After judging the veteran final a few years ago, I am extremely excited about returning to judge the prestigious native championship.”

What will he be looking for on show day?

  • The first thing I will notice when a pony walks into the ring is that star quality; I don’t know how you bottle it, but I want it to have that ‘look at me’ personality and charm.
  • I will be looking for a pony which is just that, a pony through and through. I won’t be looking for anything horsey.
  • I want to see a native which moves in accordance to its breed standard. I love to see a good, impressive trot and I don’t like to see anything ‘daisy cutting.’
  • I also like a good gallop. A lot of these animals weren’t bred to gallop, but it is now part of the show criteria.
  • During the show, I will be looking for a combination that does something a little bit different.

What are David’s pet hates?

  • My pet hate is bad ring craft. I don’t like to see competitors cutting each other up and over taking on the go-round in front of the judges.
  • I want to see a pony and jockey that are well-suited; I don’t like to see a jockey who is ‘under horsed.’ I will be looking for a jockey who has a suitable pony and who perform together as a team.
  • I would let a pony off for the odd shy or spook, if I loved said pony and if the spook was within reason. You can’t emulate the atmosphere they will be performing in.
  • I would also not mark a pony down for its bridle. If the tack was suitable for the pony and it was going well then I would not penalise for a certain bit and bridle. However, I don’t like to see resistance in the bridle; the pony must be moving forward and accepting the contact well.

What three characteristics will his champion have?

  • Personality, quality and be true to the pony type.

And finally…

  • My advice for those competing at Olympia for the first time is to just go and completely enjoy it. It is a fantastic experience to ride in that sort of atmosphere. Be as prepared as you can, but the main thing is to have a good time.

Don’t miss H&H’s extensive coverage. Check out dressage and Wednesday-Saturday showjumping reports in the 28 December issue (out Friday, not Thursday this week because of Christmas schedules), while showing, driving and Sunday showjumping coverage will be in 3 January 2019 issue.