Ahead of next week’s Royal Windsor Horse Show (8 to 12 May 2019) coloured horse and pony ride judge Mathew Lawrence reveals what he’ll be looking for in his winners and what he won’t forgive in the show ring…
Who is Mathew Lawrence?
Bristol-based Mathew is a well-known show rider and former producer who has landed several championships at both Horse of the Year (HOYS) and Royal International (RIHS). He has competed successfully in several classes, and two of his most prolific coloured charges include the plaited horse ELS Artform and the cob Maytime Challenge — both previous HOYS and RIHS winners. He has also won Olympia three times, twice on the Connemara Bunowen Castle Rhi and once on the Highland Torrin Of Croila. He currently juggles freelance teaching and riding with judging across the country and around the globe.
What is his judging experience?
> Panels: He sits on CHAPS, BSPA, BSHA, ROR, BSPS panels and is also a Connemara breed judge.
> Favourite appointment: HOYS and RIHS — “I have been lucky enough to judge at HOYS a few times which is very special,” says Mathew. “Hickstead is also a great occasion. Last year I also had the opportunity to judge horse classes in South Africa, which was an amazing experience.”
> Windsor 2019: Mathew will be judging the ride section of the coloured horse and ponies on Thursday 9 May. “I have judged at Windsor before, including the coloureds many years ago,” he says. “It is one of the special shows to both judge and compete at.”
What will he be looking for on show day?
“On the initial walk round, I will be looking for something that looks like it wants to be there. It should have its ears on and should look like a show animal.
“I like to see a good walk; a lot of riders tend to not relax and the walk looks a bit stifled. I think this common in the horses which aren’t hacked out and therefore the rider tries to manufacture a walk in the school.
“Right through the height sections I will be looking for a horse or pony which exudes what type it is from the outset — either a traditional or a plaited, or a native or a cob, etc.
“I will also be looking for a combination which has that ‘want to win’ attitude.
“When ride judging I want a horse that’s easy and moves freely and forward around the ring. I prefer a ride which is in front of the leg and wants to do the job.
“When judging the ponies I will be looking for a pony which goes forward and works freely.
“I will also be looking for — both in the horses and the ponies — something which is balanced and equal on both left and right reins.”
What are Mathews’s pet hates?
“I don’t like to see horses which are held into a pony trot, or ponies which are rushed out of their natural rhythm and cadence.”
Sour show animals: “Of course manners are a bit thing but I would rather see a horse looking jolly and happy to be in the ring as oppose to something which looks sour. A small spook out of exuberance is completely different to a horse which is being naughty.”
Too much bling: “whether that be browbands, flashy jackets or too much shine, grease and make-up.”
Ill-fitting tack; “I don’t like to see tack, especially saddles, which don’t fit the horse correctly.’
What does his ideal cob look like?
“I have been lucky enough to judge coloureds for many years and have seen some lovely animals during that time. However, I do remember a long time ago I was watching the legendary coloured horse Indian Trail at RIHS and thought that I would have loved to ride him.”
“My advice for those competing at Windsor would be to enjoy it. Enjoy your horse or pony as at the end of the day, that’s the one you want to take home.”
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday. Don’t miss the Royal Windsor preview in the 2 May issue and the Royal Windsor reports in the 16 May issue.