Allister Hood: ‘A logistical nightmare’ [H&H VIP]

  • Royal Windsor is more than just a show; it’s an occasion — for competitors and spectators. It’s not only the wonderful setting that makes it so special, it’s the atmosphere.

    I can’t decide whether I get more enjoyment from riding in Royal Windsor’s fantastic setting, in the main ring at Great Yorkshire or on home territory at Royal Norfolk.

    But if I had to choose a show to visit for a great day out, it would be Windsor.

    Making the first day free for spectators is a clever and much-appreciated gesture.

    I’m told it started as a thank you to the townspeople for putting up with road closures and inconvenience, but it certainly brought in the crowds and the feel-good factor, and probably boosted the stallholders’ takings.

    Organising such a packed showing schedule must be a logistical nightmare, as it included everything from mainstream classes to those rarely seen outside specialist breed shows. Entries had to be made on the basis of a provisional timetable, and different timings in the final version meant a few competitors couldn’t compete in all the classes they had entered.

    That’s disappointing, though understandable. Entry fees were refunded, but there would have been some disgruntled owners. It is never an easy choice to decide which horse will compete and which will stay at home.

    The two rings with all-weather surfaces rode as well as we’ve come to expect when day two was hit by torrential rain. Even the grass ring stood up to it, because although the outside track cut up, it didn’t get boggy and horses kept their confidence.

    Rubbish timing

    I swapped hats on Saturday to judge novice show ponies. Early starts are another inevitability that comes with a packed schedule and the 148cm ponies were in before 7.30am.

    As show pony numbers are apparently in decline, it was encouraging to see well-filled classes, especially in the 128cm and 138cm sections. Some of the combinations I saw will definitely go on to do well in open classes.

    However, we could have done without the dustbin lorries beeping and crashing right next to the ring. Next year, could the organisers please ensure the bins are emptied before the classes start?

    One or two young riders drew the short straw and their individual shows were affected by the disturbance. I know these ponies are meant to be suitable for children, but they are novices — and they aren’t meant to be mini police horses. They have to cope with many things at a show of this size and calibre, but this could surely have been avoided.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 21 May 2015