‘I like a goer’: Find out how to impress the 2023 Royal Windsor ridden coloured judge

  • Vikki Smith will be judging the ride section of the ridden coloured horses and ponies at Royal Windsor Horse Show next month. Find out what she’ll be looking for on the day, and how you can stand out in these hugely competitive classes.

    Who is Vikki Smith?

    Vikki Smith is a leading producer of show horses and ponies. She has won classes and overall championships at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), the Royal International (RIHS) and Royal Windsor during her career. Based in Lancashire, Vikki is known for her rides on mountain and moorland (M&M) ponies, working hunters, coloureds and show horses. She sits on British Show Pony Society (BSPS), Sports Horse Breeding of Great Britain, Coloured Horse and Pony Society (CHAPS) The Showing Register (TSR) and Arab Horse Society panels, and she is currently on the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) probationary panel.

    What will you be looking for as combinations enter the ring?

    “I want a horse to look like it wants to be there. Ideally, each animal will be looking through its bridle with its ears pricked. I hate to see sullen horses who look bored with the job. When the combinations move on, I want to see a forward yet balanced trot. A pony or horse should offer suppleness and softness through the neck, too. In coloured classes, I will be looking for each animal to be going in an appropriate way for its type.”

    How will the highest marked horse ride?

    “It will be soft in the hand and forward off the leg, while being obedient and well mannered. I like a goer and I would rather ride something that is a bit sharp over something that is on the dull side.”

    What sort of show will impress you?

    “I will only know on the day if I will be asked to set the competitors a show, but nonetheless I like a good walk and a good gallop to be displayed. Again, I will be looking for the animals to be performing in accordance to their types. If riders are asked to perform their own shows I suggest that they don’t overcomplicate things and make the performance too fussy. The more you do, the more that can go wrong so if you’re going to push the boat out and execute a hard show then make sure you do it well. It’s a hard balance as you do want to impress the judge, but just ensure you play to your own horse or pony’s strengths.”

    What are your pet hates when judging coloured classes?

    “I hate over-tacked and over-bitted horses that don’t go forward. I don’t like to see horses not going anywhere in bits with huge shanks.”

    How can competitors stand out in these competitive sections?

    “Positioning is important, especially if you’re riding in a big class. Place yourself strategically on the go-round. If you’re riding a small pony, don’t place yourself directly behind a huge horse, and vice versa. Try to be noticed for the right reasons, too.”

    Any advice for those riding at Royal Windsor for the first time?

    “Be organised. It’s a very long way from the lorry park to the ring and you can’t afford to be rushing around ahead of your class. Go down to the ring to familiarise yourself with the surroundings, both inside and outside of the ring beforehand, then get to your ring early with your horse. Most of all, enjoy the ride. It’s the most beautiful show to judge, watch and ride at, so win or lose, be proud to be there.”

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