Natives are bred to survive their natural habits, but are they bold enough to take on the 12 questions asked in this year's working hunter course?
The working hunter courses at the Royal Windsor Horse Show are known for being a tough challenge, and this year’s 12-fence native pony track proved as testing as ever this morning.
With four classes catering for different heights and breeds (under 122cm, under 133cm, under 143cm and exceeding 143cm), athletic and scopey mountain and moorland (M&M) ponies took to the Frogmore Arena to compete for class titles, and ultimately, the overall M&M working hunter pony championship.
Scroll down to see the exceeding 143cm course. Could your native jump these fences?
Kicking off the course was a wooden, rustic oxer with a filler heading towards the crowd. Approached on the right rein, it was an inviting fence which led nicely into the second obstacle.
Riders would hope their ponies would be coming towards this spooky fence — a wide brush filler underneath a white woodland inspired upright — at a good pace after clearing the first jump.
A narrow skinny oxer with a bridge filler, which is definitely bigger once you get up close and personal. You’re heading towards the entrance gate, so riders will need to rebalance before aiming straight through the middle of this super-narrow jump. We predict fence 3 as a possible candidate for some rolled poles.
4. (A & B)
The first double combination of the course, which would ideally invite two strides. If all goes well, this one is a nice, simple obstacle, though a few poles might be expected.
It’s a good job our showing editor was on the floor today, or she would have been eliminated for missing out fence 5!
A narrow upright set of planks with clever Sausage dog-themed wings and fillers. If your horse is used to the canine variety, this shouldn’t be a problem as you’re heading towards the collecting ring, but it’s definitely got the spook factor so we expect some big efforts, but hopefully no run outs.
A chunky bridge topped with a plank and a back pole. This will definitely test.
This pretty white and grey fence which is dressed with plastic stones has a water try placed at the back. We pit this one as the course’s bogey fence.
Sticking with the water theme, fence 9 will require lots of leg and straightness, as there’s no obvious middle. This filler was pulled out a little for the smaller heights.
A nice upright gives the competitors a breather, though the wooly fillers underneath might spook some of the animals. Could this be the fence riders underestimate?
11 (A & B)
Another inviting two-stride double, led in by a sizeable oxer. Ponies will be tired by now, so we expect a few back poles to be hit here.
Finishing the course and heading towards the crowd is this big oxer which has been dressed with rustic planks at the front. A lovely finish to a challenging, up-to-height test for our native gems.
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