‘He means the absolute world to us’: home-bred Welsh is crowned M&M supreme at the RIHS

  • A home-bred Welsh section C triumphed in The Corroconsult BSPS Heritage mountain and moorland (M&M) supreme ridden championship at the 2023 Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) on his debut at the show.

    Hannah and Linda Atkinson’s “pony of a lifetime” Danwood Llewellyn, a 12-year-old by Wyken Rob Roy out of Rivervalley Lou Lou, maintained a top initial pull in during his class to book himself into the main arena championship held in the afternoon.

    The bay gelding, a Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) winner and section reserve in 2018, continued to up his game throughout the day with Hannah in perfect sync, and he was awarded the title by judges Kathryn Lloyd (performance) and Anthony Perkins (conformation).

    Ponies were required to display ample native spirit during the morning’s classes due to the boggy ground caused by last night’s torrential downpour.

    “Our champion coped very well in the class, especially given the conditions,” said Anthony. “And in the main arena he stood out with a faultless performance. Some of the heavier breeds did struggle with the conditions, but the riders who thought about what they were doing made use of the ring and the better ground.”

    Kathryn added: “I wanted to see ponies who were sitting up and taking their riders forward while going into the bridle. Put simply, they had to perform and go.”

    Danwood Llewellyn — who is known as Lewi at home — might have an impressive ridden tally including many county show victories, but his North Yorkshire-based breeders had never aimed him for Hickstead.

    “We’ve not been to the RIHS for about six years, as this show usually clashes with the Royal Welsh, and we’re Welsh pony breeders,” said Hannah. “We decided to aim Lewi for Hickstead at least once, so this year has been our bucket list year!”

    Hannah formerly rode Lewi’s dam, Rivervalley Lou Lou, in the ring.

    “Doing this with a home-bred makes it extra rewarding,” Hannah said. “Mum and I have done the work with Lewi ourselves from the beginning, and he means the absolute world to us. Lou Lou was an outstanding pony who never quite got the results that she deserved, so he is doing this for her in some ways.”

    The win will make the Atkinson’s eight hour journey home a lot sweeter: “I think I’ll have to go and have a sit down before I do anything else,” concluded Hannah.

    Another home-bred, Julie Pennell’s recent Great Yorkshire Show supreme winner Nipna Midnight Rambler, scored reserve for the Dales breed under his producer Sarah Parker.

    Anthony said: “He was a lovely example of the breed, and he also sat up and showed himself off in the main ring.”

    Anthony gave one general takeaway for competitors: “Riders should make sure that they present their horses properly for the conformation phase. It’s as important as the performance, and many seem to forget this when competing under pressure.”

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