Katie Duxbury: ‘The Great Yorkshire is a big ask for a young horse’


  • Katie Duxbury is a leading showing competitor who has ridden at HOYS, RIHS and Olympia multiple times. She is also a judge who sits on British Show Horse Association and Sports Horse Breeding of GB panels.

    It was an honour to judge the novice hunter classes at the Great Yorkshire Show with my co-judge, Margaret Hopkins. This was my first time judging at Harrogate and the novice classes really are exciting and special; these horses are the future and you hope that the winners from both the lightweight and middleweight/heavyweight classes will go on to do great things during their careers.

    I judged conformation during the lightweights  and our winner (Say No More) was a classy, true lightweight who never faltered or put a foot wrong. However, we were disappointed that out of more than 25 catalogued entries, fewer than half were presented for judging.

    It would seem that as the entries close so early in the year, competitors are entering their horses and making decisions later on, which is surprising given the cost of a class. But, the show is still one of the busiest in the calendar, and the number of spectators at the ringside proves that people are still keen to get out and about to proper county shows.

    Practise makes perfect

    The middleweight/heavyweight class was strong, with around 20 horses coming forward. Nothing went absolutely spot on during the go-round so Margaret and I weren’t afraid to shuffle around the final line-up depending on what rode and stripped well. Our eventual winner (Bloomfield Distinction) came up from fifth to win.

    This horse eventually went novice champion and it was the presentation of his rider (Alice Homer) in the championship – she rode the most phenomenal gallop – that sealed the deal.

    While I was impressed with the quality of the classes in general, some of the horses I rode were lacking preparation. I didn’t have any dreadful rides, but I had some very green ones. Some weren’t going forward or moving off the leg and it was apparent that they needed more mileage ahead of such an electric show.

    The Yorkshire is a big ask for a young horse; the main ring is spooky with plenty to look at, and it can be hard to keep a horse’s attention. There are enough clinics and practice sessions on offer these days. I encourage riders to take advantage of them.

    “Think before you post”

    I joined my first judging panel more than 15 years ago but I am still a relatively young judge and in October I will officiate at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) for the first time.

    I found the step up onto the panels easy, due to the support of the incredible senior judges who are always keen to share their knowledge and experiences with up-and-coming judges.

    I always find my judging appointments very enjoyable on the day, but social media can taint experiences, as you never know what backlash is going to come following the competition.

    A lot of people don’t think before they post on Facebook. Social media has made it easy for people to air opinions and disputes that they wouldn’t dream of bringing up in person if the individual they were targeting was standing in front of them.

    On a positive note, I have noticed that some people have been challenged for their inappropriate posts and it seems that societies are beginning to do a bit more to police social media usage.

    I know that we definitely don’t judge to get rich; even if I have claimed expenses for an appointment I am still usually left out of pocket by the time I’ve booked a hotel and travelled to a show.

    We give up our time as we love the sport, so please remember this when you’re next tempted to comment on any judging that you might not agree with.

    ● What did you think of the standard of the showing classes at the Great Yorkshire? Let us know at hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and county, for the chance to have your views published in a future edition of Horse & Hound magazine

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 20 July, 2023

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