‘No manic gallops or extended trots through the middle’: how to impress this year’s Royal International coloured pony judge

  • Ahead of the 2023 Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) held later this month, we talk to judge Morean Hamilton who will be judging the ride section of the British Piebald and Skewbald Association ridden coloured pony classes to find out what she’ll be looking for as combinations enter the ring and perform their individual shows.

    Who is Morean Hamilton?

    Morean Hamilton is a judge who sits on several showing panels, including the British Show Pony Society, The Showing Register, UK Ponies and Horses, Veteran Horse Society, Senior Showing and Dressage Ltd and the Coloured Horse and Pony Society.

    She will be judging at the RIHS for the first time this year, and later in the season she will also be officiating the show hunter pony classes at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS). She has judged at many major shows, including the Royal Highland and Balmoral.

    Morean resides in Kilmarnock in Ayrshire and she runs top show horses with leading producer Kirstine Douglas.

    What will she be looking for when each combination enters the ring?

    “Ultimately, I’ll be looking for those ponies who have star quality. I believe that all the good ones look back at you and tell you they’re special. I’ll be co-judging with Clare Dew and as there isn’t a marking system used at the RIHS, the final line-up will be a decision made after a discussion.

    “If looking at the plaited ponies, I will be looking for a pony that has colour as an extra; it must be something else first, whether that be a show pony, a hunter pony or an intermediate. Whatever pony is in front of me must be true to its type and I like a coloured to fit into a category.”

    What will Morean be looking for in the individual shows?

    “I’m not 100 percent sure if I will set a show yet but I want to see an accurately performed show with a touch of style. I want to see the movement in all the paces, including in the walk. I love a pony with a good walk and it’s a pace I will study closely.

    “While I am judging the ride during the classes, in the championship I will be looking at limbs and feet. Ponies should be stood on good, grounding legs, and they should have good limb and bone.”

    What are some of Morean’s show ring pet hates?

    “I hate seeing ponies being pushed out of their natural rhythm and I don’t like to see extended trots through the change of rein. I don’t like to see manic or crazy gallops either; a nice, controlled extension across the floor is ideal.”

    Finally, does she have any sign off advice for those riding there for the first time?

    “You’ve done the hard bit — qualifying — so enjoy every minute of your ride on the day.”

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