Royal Windsor is one of the most prestigious appointments in a judge’s career, but what are some of the 2021 officials going to be looking for on the big day?
H&H’s what to watch
Thursday – dressage masterclass: stepping up to grand prix, Castle Arena, 4.35pm
Friday – ridden hunter championship, Castle Arena, 12.40pm
Saturday – Land Rover international driving grand prix marathon phase, the Home Park and Windsor Great Park, 12pm
Sunday – CSI5* Rolex grand prix, Castle Arena, 2.30pm
2021 Windsor appointment: novice hunters (ride)
Panels: Coloured Horse and Pony Society (CHAPS) (including HOYS), British Skewbald and Piebald Association (BSPA), Arab Horse Society (AHS), Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain (SHB (GB)) and British Ridden Heavy Horse Society.
Favourite Windsor memory: I adore Windsor and was lucky enough to judge the Retraining of Racehorses classes a couple of years ago. I met The Queen which was a moment I’ll never forget. We chatted for a long time and I have a photo of us together, which takes pride of place in my home. I love the novice hunter classes and will be looking forward to riding some good gallops in that arena.
On the day: I like a hunter to be powerful, light in the hand and forward-going. Of course, quality is key. Movement-wise, I like an animal really to cover the ground. I would forgive a novice horse for a little blip, such as a swap of legs in the gallop if he really moved on; I would much rather see him gallop.
Pet hates: I don’t like riders who cut other people up on the go-round. I also don’t want to see messy hands and a rider who is fighting with their horse. A horse that is heavy in front would be painful to take out hunting all day.
Top tip: show yourself and your horse off, you only get one chance to shine.
2021 Windsor appointment: show hunter ponies and lead-rein of hunter type
Panels: British Show Pony Society (BSPS) Star for Heritage, show hunter ponies and show ponies, CHAPS (inc HOYS), Northern Counties Ponies Association (NCPA), The Showing Register (TSR) and Veteran Horse Society (VHS).
Favourite Windsor memory: it’s always a real privilege to be asked to judge at Windsor; it’s the one everyone wants to win, and the competitors put their hearts and souls into it. I previously judged the mountain and moorland lead-rein and first ridden classes in 2015.
On the day: I’ll be looking for an animal that enters the ring with intention and a free walk. On first impressions it’s about the overall picture. I’ll ask myself if the pony possesses the qualities of a scaled-down middleweight hunter. Manners are of the utmost importance, too. When assessing the type of a hunter pony, I look for bone and substance; these ponies must be able to spend a day on the hunting field. In the lead-rein of hunter type class, the pony has to look after the child. This should be the safest pony a young jockey will ride. If you let it off the rein, would it behave and still take care of its rider? It’s quite an early-season show where novices will be presented, but I’ll be looking for a good, solid open pony in terms of way of going.
Pet hates: in lead-rein classes, sometimes it’s evident that time has been spent concentrating on the handler’s outfit instead of the pony’s way of going. Some of these fancy outfits are unnecessary and can detract from the animal and rider. The picture must be perfect, with a nice, neat handler and similarly dressed jockey.
Also, I don’t like to see ponies dripping in oil, especially on a hot day when they’re standing in the blazing heat. I also don’t like make-up, from both a welfare and aesthetic point of view; it doesn’t add to the conformation of the pony. Blacking out white hooves is a similar no-no for me, too.
Top tip: prepare and practise at home to give the best show you can on the day. Have a look at combinations already out there and do your homework. But mainly, appreciate that you’re at one of the most beautiful shows in the country so enjoy your day.
2021 Windsor appointment: coloureds (conformation)
Panels: CHAPS, BSPA, Side-Saddle Association and British Ridden Heavy Horse Society.
Favourite Windsor memory: this will be my first time judging at the show. I went a long time ago with my husband, who was part of a special heavy horse driving class held by the Institute of Brewing. He works for Thwaites Brewery and drives their team of Shire horses. We went for the class, which he went on to win, and there was an event afterwards. It was a bit of a one-off, but we had a really good time.
On the day: on first impression I’ll be looking for freedom of movement, rhythmic paces and self-carriage. A horse needs to be happy in his work; of course, he must be well mannered but he’s got to have a bit of spirit.
When stripped, like most judges, I like a good horse, irrespective of type. It must be put together well and true to type. In the hairy class, there is such a mixed bag; the hogged cobs are so different to the vanners and traditionals, so it’s important to appreciate what you’re presented with and judge them for what they are. In all the classes, I’ll be looking for clean limbs and straight movement.
Pet hates: I don’t like to see overly fat animals and would penalise an animal which was carrying too much weight.
Top tip: if you’re showing a traditional with lots of hair, ensure your groom takes a good comb and a damp rag into the ring; you can use the cloth to remove any whitener or powder marks which might get onto the horse.
2021 Windsor appointment: working hunters (conformation)
Panels: SHB (GB), British Show Horse Association, Retraining of Racehorses, and Burghley Young Event Horse.
Favourite Windsor memory: I’ve competed at Windsor before but this will be my first time judging. The show has everything and the grounds of Windsor Castle make for a stunning venue. For me, there is a lot of personal history and fond memories attached to the show; my husband was in the Household Cavalry and judged at the show many times.
On the day: my winner will be a nice, quality horse with four good paces, including a strong walk. As well as a horse that jumps a careful and fluent round – and takes on the track like a hunter and not a showjumper – I want something that makes me look at him as he enters the ring. I’ll be looking for the horse I’d want to sit on and take out for a day’s hunting. A good worker will be well-mannered, work in self-carriage and be polite in the mouth, while taking the rider forward, but not pulling too much.
Conformationally, I like a good front and a quality hind and front leg. While working hunters do differ from those horses found in weight classes, everything still needs to fit into place and the animal still needs to be well put together.
Pet hates: I don’t like a choppy stride; it’s hard on the rider’s back – I’m not getting any younger – and does not make for a comfortable sit-on. I don’t have many specific pet hates; it’s important to judge the horse as an individual on the day.
Top tip: be polite to your judge; I was always taught to say “Good morning” instead
of a more casual “Hi”. As a competitor, it’s important to accept the way the class turns out. It doesn’t always work out how you want it to, and we can’t all win, but being a good sport goes a long way in showing.
Need to know
- THE Royal Windsor Horse Show is to be held from 1–4 July 2021 in the private grounds of Windsor Castle, Berkshire. The showground’s postcode is SL4 1QE.
- Follow H&H’s extensive coverage of the showing classes and show jumping results throughout the week at horseandhound.co.uk
- Don’t miss the full magazine report in the 8 July issue.
- The nearest motorways to the showground are the M4, M25 and M3.
- Windsor and Eton Central and Windsor and Eton Riverside Stations are both close to the showground.
- Tickets can be purchased from the show’s official website. Ticket prices start at £25 per adult.
- The show will continue to follow Government guidance about coronavirus and will comply with all the latest rules.
- For more information visit rwhs.co.uk
This report can also be read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale date 24 June 2021
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