Fiona Bigwood: What are judges looking for? [H&H VIP]

  • Having recently come back on the international competition scene after a four-year break with my lovely mare, Atterupgaards Orthilia, I’ve realised how hard it is for the majority of people to own horses while in full-time employment or with young children.

    There is a small percentage of professional riders whose lives revolve solely around the horses, but for most people this will not be the case.

    Since having my three children, now eight, seven and three, I now appreciate what a balancing act it can be. There will be many occasions in a week when I am ringing other mums to ask if someone can collect my child at the end of a school day because I am running late. Having horses means that you will never run to time, however much you try to plan your day.

    I was always lucky enough to be able to get my riding done in normal daytime hours, but this has now changed, and I realise that this is what so many people have to do to pursue their riding careers.

    There is so much truth in the phrase “horses are not just a hobby but a way of life”. The love we all have for them keeps driving us to live our dreams.

    Temperament is key

    Our busy calendars are stretched even more by all the fantastic young horse classes in the UK.

    They give us all a great opportunity to take our youngsters out in a relaxed manner, and for them to get used to different environments. This can be so beneficial to their careers, and it is nice to see these classes so well supported.

    It also encourages talk about what judges are looking for in a top young horse. For me, temperament is a key factor. You may have the most extravagant mover, but if their heart is not in it you will always find it harder.

    I urge clients not to buy horses just because of their paces, but to really study their temperaments as well.

    Although I must admit that if they are tall, black, good-looking and can move, I am probably a bit more lenient.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 4 June 2015