Julie Templeton: ‘Show horses must have look-at-me presence and sparkle to win’


  • Leading pony producer, accredited elite trainer and judge Julie Templeton on the key components judges should be looking out for in a show horse

    I recently attended an informative body condition scoring open day held in conjunction with The Horse Trust, which focused on how we can understand equine weight to help our horses be happier and healthier.

    For the first time, UK Ponies and Horses had body scoring rosettes awarded at the spring show to the horses and ponies deemed to be in the healthiest condition in several sections. I was also pleased to see that the Royal Windsor again decided to present the body condition prizes in some of their classes.

    I had the privilege of judging the hack classes at Royal Windsor. I was pleased to see that none of the exhibits presented in the ring were overweight – a positive for the sport. Continuing to keep the weight issue at the forefront of people’s minds by publicising and promoting body scoring campaigns is such a good step in the right direction for equine health.

    “They need presence”

    Royal Windsor was unfortunately cursed by the most appalling weather on the run-up to the show and for the first couple of days of the competition. Ring stewards and ground crew did a great job at keeping the show on the road in what were very trying circumstances.

    In many of the sections not all of the entered exhibits came forward for judging. This was perhaps because of the challenging ground conditions, or as a consequence of the perceived reduced working-in space on offer, which was a shame for all concerned.

    While the weight of horses and ponies seemed to have improved, some of my fellow judges and I noted that several animals within our sections lacked the charisma required to win the class. This may have been because riders felt they needed to give their exhibits extra work due to the buzzy nature of the rings at Windsor.

    It’s important to note that show animals do need a look-at-me presence. They must possess that extra little bit of sparkle in order for them to stand out from the others.

    “It’s a joint responsibility”

    I was so disappointed to hear that Welsh section Bs have now been classified as a rare breed and have consequently been put onto the Rare Breeds Survival Trust watch list.

    We can only hope that highlighting the decline in this way will promote change to increase the breeding of Welsh section Bs, as it has done for other identified rare breeds. The Exmoor, Dartmoor and New Forest ponies have all seen a significant increase in numbers since being placed in this category.

    My personal concern is that the British Riding Pony is heading in the same direction. It is a joint responsibility of breed and member societies, breeders, professionals and end users alike to come together and try to find a solution that will hopefully prevent the inevitable decline.

    ● How do you think showing could further promote the healthy body condition of animals in the ring? Let us know at hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and country, for the chance for your letter to appear in a forthcoming issue of the magazine

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 16 May

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