For anyone wishing to keep up to date with showing results at the British Horse of the Year Show, visit The Show Register. They are continually updating results in real time which is great as it saves me from getting RSI from typing them all out!
You can also fill in all your entry forms online and make all your payments at the same time which saves on all those hours you usually spend licking envelopes and buying stamps. I wish it had been available when I was showing in the UK, that's for sure!
Also, check out the photos at The Event Photographer when they become available. See if you can spot any relatives of your own animals, especially in the show pony ring. I know there are a few Rotherwood and Courtland horses and ponies in the winner's circle already.
Show Hunter Of The Year Championship
Champion - Finn McCool III (Guy Landau)
1st & Ch - Finn McCool (Guy Landau)
1st & Res - Pride & Joy (Robert Walker)
Class 26c - Heavyweight Show Hunter Of The Year (top 9)
1st - Loughkeen Dancing Lord (Robert Oliver)
2nd) Knockanroe Champ (Rosie Bloor)
Class 31a - SEIB Search For A Star Cobs (similar to NZ Rising Stars)
1st - Chinwaggfinn
Class 31b - SEIB Search For A Star Riding Club Show Horse
1st - Innish Verdel
Class 29a - Stallions Miniature Horse Of The Year
1st & Champion - MHB Apollo
Class 29b - Mares/Geldings Miniature Horse Of The Year
1st & Reserve - Scott Creek My Key To Fashion
Class 29c - Youngstock Miniature Horse Of The Year
1st - Dayhill Travelling Technicolour
The weather in Auckland has been absolutely abysmal recently- rain, rain and yet more rain! I think this is probably part of the reason my poor yearing filly has developed a yucky little abscess. I haven't had to deal with one in years and the only ones that I have had any experience with were caused by very obvious stone bruises. I was in an absolute panic when I saw her limping around the field- all sorts of nightmare situations flashed across my mind. Thankfully, the vet took one look at her trotting up and said abscess, which was a huge relief. Although, I have to say, poulticing a yearling with a sore foot is one of the trickier things I've had to do!
It got me to thinking about feet though- and how important they are. They really should be one of the first things that a show judge looks at, as without a well put together foot, a horse or pony is probably not going to keep going for as long and in some cases won't be able to perform its job to the best of its ability (think of the Hunters which are supposed to be capable of travelling over undulating terrain all day long) Do you think judges pay enough attention to the feet? I know that those judging the native pony classes (Welsh, Fell Ponies, Connies etc) place great importance on good, strong hooves but it should be just as important a consideration in show pony and show horse classes...
Thinking about hooves also got me musing on the strange things that some people do to enhance movement. Some more humane than others!
Show hacks and ponies: Use of lightweight aluminum plates. Often, producers will ride their animals in normal shoes day-to-day and then switch to the plates the day before the show. Apparently, the horses feel the difference in weight and display a more exaggerated movement. A word from someone in the know: these shoes cost a blimmin fortune and literally melt off the feet if you even dare look at a road!
Some people take the shoes off the day before a show, for the same reason as above
Welsh Cobs: There has been much controversy regarding the Welshies over the years, as some people have been caught employing questionable techniques to achieve 'correct' movement. This includes fitting weighted shoes to encourage a snapping up of the knee- sometimes on ponies as young as yearlings! This is actually a pointless exercise as it ultimately ruins their action. They end up practically trotting on the spot, throwing their legs all over the place and not moving freely forwards as they should.
Saddle Seat Horses: High action is prized in the Saddle Seat Horse. Therefore, many horses shown in Saddle Seat are shod with pads and special shoes. The shoes are often held in place with a metal band, as well as cinches, because of their weight. Longer toes and heavier shoes encourage a Saddle Seat Horse to lift its feet and knees higher, or reach them out farther , with more snap and flash. Toe length and shoe weight is an often controversial subject among competitors.
The most controversial practice used on some Saddle Seat Horses, primarily the Tennessee Walking Horse is soring: the placing of a caustic ointment on the coronary band and pastern of the horse, to cause pain so that the horse picks up its feet as quickly as they touch the ground
Anyone know of any other breeds/types where people really put themselves out and use various gadgets to enhance the animal's movement?
I never considered learning how to play but have just noticed that the Auckland Polo Club actually offers lessons. You don't even have to bring your own horse as they have plenty available.
For individuals just starting out they instruct on: riding polo style, control of the pony, polo swing and the basic rules of the game. Each lesson costs $80 per hour.
I don't know....I think it could be a refreshing change from showing. Maybe I'll give it a go!
Click here for more details on the Auckland Polo School. There is also a popular Polo School down near Christchurch.
The Classical Ride, headed up by Eleena Keenedy is now on Facebook. Click here to become a fan and receive regular news and updates.
Eleena is based in Clevedon, South Auckland and is available for private lessons at her facility. She also runs 2-5 day clinics throughout New Zealand. She teaches everything, from ground education to the high school movements. Eleena herself has trained under such greats as Sylvia Loch, Nadine Francois, Marji Armstrong and Ramon Guerro.
I would fully recommend giving The Classical Ride a try if you would like to improve your own riding, how your horse goes and if you are keen to develop a better understanding of how to work with your horse, rather than against them. You will not be disappointed. Eleena has some lovely horses of her own, should you not have your own mount.
The Classical Ride is on Twitter and you can also check out their website at http://www.cdnz.net/
Following on from my post about introducing show classes for adults on ponies, I thought I would take a quick look at competing the British natives, both in-hand and under saddle. There aren't a huge number of ridden classes available in New Zealand yet (although obviously, if more people showed an interest, more shows would host those classes) but if you are wanting to keep showing the 'littlies' rather than moving onto hacks, it's a good option. Plus, you don't have to plait!
The Welsh ponies are the most prominent in New Zealand, although I am aware that there are some Shetlands and Connemaras around as well. You can read the breed standard for each type of Welsh Pony (A,B,C and D) here. If you are interested in the other British native breeds, you can find out more about them here.
Following are a few key points about showing Welsh ponies:
- They are supposed to be presented 'au natural', although you won't be penalised for a bit of discreet trimming. For example, you can thin the end of the tail so that it's not dragging along the floor. You can also tidy the mane up somewhat if it's very long and thick, shorten any whiskers on the muzzle and trim any very long hairs protruding from the ears or along the jaw line.
- No make-up should be applied although a spray of show sheen is allowed and can make a well cared for and conditioned coat look fantastic
- In hand, mares and fillies can be shown in either a regular bridle or in the more traditional white webbing or rope show halter. You can pick these up from this Ebay store if you can't find one in NZ.
- When showing in-hand, wear shoes that you can really RUN in. The Welshies are famous for their impressive trots (especially the cobs) so you will need to show it off.
- Native ponies are supposed to be shown in a workmanlike manner- think a saddle hunter way of going rather than how the show ponies are presented. Bearing this in mind, a more workmanlike turnout suits the Welshies. Plain leather tack, with the rider dressed as they would for a hunter class works well. Please no blingy browbands- they just look soo wrong!
- Following on from that previous point, the natives are supposed to be fairly forward going and, like the hunters, a lot of emphasis is put on the gallop. Lean forward, kick on and enjoy going full pelt down the side of the ring (just make sure you have schooled your pony well and he pulls up calmly!)
Above all, stride into the show ring with a smile on your face and have a good time! The native breeds, such as the Welshies, are just the most amazing fun, both to own and to show.
For more information on Welsh ponies, visit the Welsh Pony & Cob Society of New Zealand
For Connemaras, you can go to the Connemara Pony Society of New Zealand website
The New Zealand Shetland Pony Society can be found hereIf there are any other British native breeds in New Zealand, that I'm not aware of, just drop me a line!
This post was sparked by a conversation with a passionate showie who happens to work in the same non-horsey office as me. Yes, we should have been hidden behind our computer screens toiling away but talking about horses is much more interesting...
Anyway, she has recently decided to take a break from the show ring which is fair enough. I didn't compete for about four years while I was at university. However, the interesting thing is she claims that if there was a ridden show pony class for adults she would not have given up showing. She's a diminutive girl (damn her!) and just wasn't that comfortable in hack classes.
This got me thinking. Why isn't there an option for adults wanting to show ponies? I can't seem to think of one. Surely introducing this class would benefit everyone.
The show organisers would be happy because they would have more competitors and there would possibly be less drop-off after teenagers had grown out of the children's pony ring. The competitors would be pleased because they could ride and compete on a height that suited them.
In the UK, there are a few alternatives for teens not wanting to dive straight into hack classes. The BSPS (British Show Pony Society) offers the Intermediate Show Riding Types classification. A Small ISRT must exceed 146 cm and not exceed 153cm and a Large ISRT must be over 153 cm but not over 158cm. Riders can compete in this class until they are 25 years of age. This provides quite a nice bridge between show pony classes and the open hack classes.
Another popular option for adult pony riders in the UK is to show native British ponies under saddle. Any individual of any age can show a native pony, be that a Welsh B, Welsh D, Connemara etc, under saddle. This is one reason that ridden native pony classes in the UK are so HUGE and highly competitive!
In Australia, there are even more possibilities. You have a whole plethora of classes specifically for adult ridden ponies- the adult's pony hack, for example, which can be as small as 12.2hh and as large as 14.2hh.
So, with all these possible options, why hasn't New Zealand introduced an option for adult pony riders yet? The Show Riding Horse class has recently been added to the Horse of the Year Show schedule which I think is great. However, I think that a ridden pony class for adults would bring even more new blood into the sport and would stop people, especially those coming to the end of their children's riding pony career, from drifting away from the show ring. What do you guys think?
Guide to photos in this post: Number One = Small Intermediate Show Riding Type, Number Two = FEI Dressage Pony and Number Three = Ridden Welsh Section D
I have included some great British and Australian sites as well. If you're after something that not many other people will have, these are the best places to visit. Most of them now offer very reasonable shipping rates as well (although, even if a site doesn't state that they deliver internationally, ask them anyway. Most will be happy to sort something out for you)
Aunty Joy's Showing Accessories- Their attire range includes both VIP & AJSA riding jackets, showing shirts, vests, stocks & ties. This website has also been overhauled recently and is a pleasure to browse. Definitely one to check out.
Abela Ponies- A well known online shop for all things showie. You can pick up pretty much anything here although I especially love the children's warm-up gear on the front page!
Finishing Touch Equestrian- True to the name, this site offers a large variety of those valuable 'finishing touches.' Browbands, false manes/tails, canes, number holders and turnout supplies can be purchased here.
Sparrow Saddlers- This company creates high-quality, hand crafted saddlery from premium English leather. They have a wide variety of different leather colours and can alter the design and width of the bridle to suit your horse. I know where I will be going for my next in-hand bridle....
Mrs Candy Collections- This place has a ridiculously huge following in the UK. They are especially well known for their show shirts which are available in an impressive number of different styles and can be made in practically any colour combination, to match the rest of your outfit.
Flyde Saddlery and E Jeffries are the places to go to in the UK for an exquisite show saddle. My favourite is the suede covered Marjorie show saddle from Flyde. It really shows off the shoulder and is sooo comfortable to ride in.
Pretty Ponies- I'm pretty sure some of the range is now available in Australia and New Zealand but for their full collection check out their British site. They are best known for their browbands and children's showing gear.
Champions Choice Browbands- Oh, for a spare $170....this is an awesome site with some absolutely fabulous (dahhling) browbands available. These have become popular all over the world, including the UK and New Zealand.
Jacranda View Stables- The image on their landing page is a bit scary but they have an impressive range of show wear and accessories. I especially like the waistcoats which are available in a whole rainbow of colours!
Winner's Circle Browbands- Despite the name, they offer a wide variety of show accessories and apparel, as well as browbands. My favourite product is the Chester Jefferies leather gloves. They come in more colours than you could ever imagine a glove coming in and they fit beautifully (I recently bought a pair in 'conker' and am in love with them)
I know these aren't the easiest times and shelling out for ads all over the place can really hit you where it hurts (in the wallet!)
You are free to have the ad up on this blog as long as you want and hopefully you will find a great new home for your horse or pony.
Also, if you are currently searching for your dream show animal, let me know and we'll do our best to help you find it!
Email me if you would like to get in touch
I seriously don't know what is going on with the British show scene at the moment. Recently, a rather dark and unappealing side of the sport has reared its ugly head. Or, more likely, it was there all along and has only just been uncovered.
According to Stuart Hollings, a well respected judge, author, show horse/pony producer and columnist in Horse & Hound, there has been a large amount of blackmail and intimidation going on. As an example- one judge has claimed that a very well known producer phoned him the night before a prestigious show and said:
'Hello- we will be bringing X pony to X show tomorrow and, as you and I both very well know, he will be the best pony on the grounds on the day and we expect to be judged as such.'
Apparently, this is not an uncommon occurance. I know that the British Show Pony Society, British Show Horse Society, Ponies (UK) and other organisations have been working to stamp out cheating, but they are clearly fighting an uphill battle. Backhanders and intimidation are rife. I'm not sure what these competitors are using as leverage- maybe their high status and the fact that they have a certain amount (some would say too much....) power within some of the organisations. Maybe it's physical violence? Either way- there are judges that feel scared, cornered and bullied. It's not a good state of affairs. At all.
This is not the only sign that the sport has taken a nasty turn. You have the poor show pony that had it's tail burnt off in an 'acid attack' at the Royal International this year- full story here
This pony owner was banned from CHAPS recently (Coloured Horse & Pony Society) for giving the animal a sedative before an important championship
In fact, doping has long been considered a problem in the showing world. Over time, this has resulted in an increase in drugs testing.
The measuring saga is still trucking on....
To be honest, I'm sick of hearing about all these ridiculous and completely immoral things that are going on back in the UK. When did people become so desperate to win that they are willing to hurt other people and their horses or even their own animals?
So far, New Zealand showies seem to be a lot more relaxed when it comes to competition and I'm enjoying this change in attitude. There are a few hiccups and a couple of areas where things could be improved but I don't think the show scene is anywhere near as corrupt and biased as it is in Great Britain.
I wonder why this is? Could it be because a lot of the individuals competing in the UK are professional producers? Their income is basically reliant on their ability to keep winning on horses they are training/competing on behalf of their clients. Maybe the pressure to keep on picking up that red ribbon drives them to do these horribly unethical things sometimes?
Answers on a postcard please!
Those first few outings with your young or novice show animal are always exciting times. Will they explode like a dry tinder box packed full of chinese firecrackers, doused with petrol and then lit with a single match? Or will they come off the box and float serenely into the ring, wowing the judge and everyone at the ringside with their grace and poise?
Sometimes, the ones that you would least expect turn into fire-breathing dragons and the so-called 'nervey' ones are perfectly well behaved. Our horses like to keep us on our toes you know.
Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to prepare your horse or pony for it's first show ring experience:
- Firstly- it might sound obvious- but do try to take your horse to a couple of small, inconsequential competitions before you tackle anything more important. That way, you can get an idea of how your horse will react and accustom him to the environment without it mattering tooo much.
- Make sure that your horse is properly trained before you start entering him in classes all over the place. If he is a ridden prospect, ensure that all of his transitions are smooth and unrushed etc. If you are wanting to show a youngster in-hand, practice leading, trotting and standing quietly until he is performing calmly and obediently.
- Have a few practice runs at home. Go through the whole shebang- washing, plaiting and loading so that you know exactly how long it will take you on the day (this cuts down HUGELY on your already soaring stress levels!)
- If at all possible, practice leading or riding with other horses around....
- Show grounds can be a lot buzzier and noisier than most horses are used to. Consider playing music while you are riding or leaving the radio switched on next to his stable/paddock so he gets used to different sounds
- Desensitise your horse to as much as possible! Balloons, flags, livestock- all of these things are often present at larger shows and can cause a bit of a horsey meltdown if he hasn't come across them before
- For the big competitions, which will have plenty of spectators, consider downloading a clapping soundbyte from a website such as this one. Believe me- it is well worth getting them used to this noise as countless laps of honour etc have been wrecked by horses freaking out at the sound of clapping
There are also a number of things you can do once you are at the show:
- Leave yourself plenty of time. A stressed owner = a stressed horse!
- Warm your horse up at the edge of the showgrounds if you can, so that he can see/hear all the action but isn't in the thick of it. Easing him into the show environment is much better than hurling him in and expecting him to deal with it
- Take your horse for a walk in-hand around the grounds (for both ridden and in-hand animals). Let him have a look at everything before you ask him to do any work.
- Before you enter the ring, take note of any horses that are playing up or riders that look like they aren't coping. Stay as far away as possible from them!
- Once in the ring- stay calm, think ahead and don't get bunched up with other competitors. If you think you are going to catch up with a group of other riders, simply turn and ride a large circle or ride deeper into the corners. Keep plenty of space around you (as well as being more relaxing for your horse there are also obvious ring-craft benefits)
Happy showing and those that are venturing out for the first time, enjoy your first event!
You can still enter the Power Hour competition to win a lesson with Jody (follow this link).
The reason I ask is because, both in the UK and NZ, I have seen some shocking sights. Show horses and ponies being warmed up outside the ring in both double bridles AND draw-reins. Then animals in the ring who are seriously overbent and flicking their toes out in front, but without any impulsion coming from behind (this is usually most obvious at the so-called 'extended trot' you often see in the ring!). The photo at the top of this post is a clear example- if he was any more overbent his nose would be touching his chest.
One of the most inhumane things I have ever seen was at a professional show yard in Gloucestershire, in South West England. We had gone to view a 13hh show hunter pony, but on the way to view this gelding, I stopped to look over a few of the stable doors. Behind each door was a tiny show pony, very tightly trussed up with a roller and side-reins. I asked the producer about it and she just smiled and said: 'Oh yes, we leave them like that for a few hours every day. It builds up the neck muscles and encourages them to hold their heads properly so that their little riders don't have to worry about getting them in the right position.'
Good grief. This was a yard that did exceptionally well at the highest levels of showing. I left the place feeling rather depressed. I could never condone this type of treatment....
So, my question is- are people producing their horses like this because this is the way of going that judges are rewarding? Or do they simply not realise what they are doing wrong?
In my opinion, the ideal show horse or pony should be forward going but relaxed, supple and with the poll at the highest point. They should all have an impressive, ground covering walk (especially the hunters!) and at trot they should move forwards properly and unhurriedly, using their backs properly and not trailing their hocks behind. They should not be stuffy, with their head pulled in and constantly fiddled with.
I know this lovely, natural way of going is possible as I have seen many great show riders both here and overseas demonstrate it. I just wish there were more of them!
What do you think?
On 28th May, 2009, that legendary 12.1hh chestnut show pony stallion, Sandbourne Royal Ensign, was put to sleep. He was 28 years of age.
He has had a truly unbelievable impact on show pony breeding with offspring now in England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Well known progency on this side of the world include Syon Royal Portrait, Westacre Copeila, Janinos Little Joker, Deanhills Benjamin, Radway Right Royal, Radway Royal Sonnett and Fleetcroft Royal Whisper, among many many others.
Ensign's Horse of the Year Show record remains unequalled. He produced four different overall Show Pony Champions, the 13.2hh Pony of the Year and the Llyods Bank (now Cuddy) In-Hand Pony of the Year.
He had recently made the move to Australia with iconic British horseman, Robert Cockram, and was still happy and going strong until the very end. Ten mares at Deanhills Stud are in foal to him this year and if they are anything like their sire they will be little crackers.
Goodbye Ensign- and thank you for the oustanding work you have done in improving the quality and beauty of our show ponies over the years
You can read Robert Cockram's tribute to Ensign over at the Deanhills Stud website
Guide to the images in this post: first photo is Sandbourne Royal Ensign in his younger days, second photo is Bradmore Catkin and the third photo is Deanhills Royal Portrait
Last weekend, I approached the side of the big bay beast with trepidation. I regarded her nervously as I reached for her neck, rubber curry comb in hand. What was wrong? Was I feeling a bit unsure about the imposing 15hh++ Irish Draught yearling filly I had tied up? No. I was petrified at the thought of being suffocated by fluff, dirt and hair should I disturb the shaggy, moulting coat that hadn't been groomed for quite some time...
My fears were realised as oodles and oodles of hair poured off my filly. Other livery yard members coughed pointedly as they skirted around us. Anything and everything within a five mile radius- sheep, houses, lakes, small children- was now covered with a fine film of brown Irish fur.
This is a routine that we go through every year, unless you are the person that brings your horses in and immediately clips them. What tips do you have for getting rid of the winter coat and bringing out a gorgeous glossy summer coat ready for the show ring?
My approach this year has been a bit different as my young horses have been living out- one of them unrugged- and will only be taken to a few in-hand shows later in the season. However, with the older show horses and ponies, or ones that are stabled, I have always done a selection of the following:
- You can clip your horse entirely and then rug him/her up. However, make sure you do this early enough so that you're not interfering with summer coat growth.
- You can pile lots of rugs on to encourage early moulting. Just keep an eye on your horse's temperature- the last thing you want is for them to start overheating and losing condition
- Many people use timed lights in their stables. Not something I've ever done (electricity bills must be huuuuge) but I have seen this technique achieve great results
- Heaps of grooming- particularly with the rubber curry comb
- Strapping also works wonders for both muscle tone and for the coat. There's a video link here that shows you how to do it. It looks a bit odd but has been done for years by old English grooms and it really works well!
- Include a good dollop of oil in the diet to encourage a shiny coat (this can be linseed or just your budget sunflower oil from the supermarket, it doesn't really matter)
- Don't overwash your horse as you will remove all those lovely oils in the coat. If you have to wash, do it at least a week before the show.
- A squirt of baby oil in your water when you rinse your horse off after a bath can do wonders. Just make sure your horse is properly clean before you do this or the baby oil will bring up all the dirt and make the coat look scurfy and icky.
- Finally, finish all your hard work off with one of the many coat shine products that can be found in your local saddlery. I really really like the Absorbine range as it doesn't attract as much dust as most of the other brands. The Ultra Final Touch Spray is also amazing. Just remember after all that buffing and polishing, NOT to put any shine spray anywhere near the saddle area. Trust me, you won't do it again in a hurry.....!
ONE OF NEW ZEALAND’S LEADING EQUESTRIAN INFORMATION WEBSITES, EQUINE TRADER, TO GIVE AWAY THE ULTIMATE RURAL LIFESTYLE
One lucky winner will pick up $1000 worth of Horserail safety fencing, $5000 free equestrian insurance cover from Jardine Bloodstock Insurance, 12 months free satellite broadband (including installation) from Farmside, a year’s supply of feed from Annandale Feeds and a brand new 500 litre water tank from Aqua Tanks.
If you are anything like me, you will be getting ridiculously impatient right about now. I am dying for the show season to get going- even though I'm only taking my two young ones to a couple of competitions this year!
Planning for the season ahead will make you feel like things are finally getting started and will give you something tangible to look forward to.
Here are a few places you can go for information:
- The 2009 Helensville A&P schedule is now up- here
- The 2009 Kumeu A&P schedule is now up- here
- Bay of Islands schedule here
- Ashburton A&P schedule here
- Canterbury A&P schedule here
- Elizabeth Charleston has set up a Facebook group which lists a number of ribbon days/A&P shows
- Equine Trader has an events page, listing lots of the coming season's shows
- The RAS (Royal Agricultural Society) website also features a list of equestrian events
Roll on the show season!
Seeing a horse or pony's potential can be a tricky business when you're just starting out. When a horse is young, or is out of work, mooching around at the back of some field, it can be hard to imagine what they could look like one day. On top of that, you are often competing against other buyers- whether they are looking for themselves or are professional trainers searching on behalf of a client. Everyone is keen to find that 'undiscovered future champion.'
Secondly, you need to know your types inside out. If you want to do well in the ring, there is no point buying a horse that is not a specific 'type', no matter how good the conformation. Something that the judge looks at and can't really decide whether it is a hack or a hunter will never reach the dizzy heights of showing. Voluteering as a steward is a great way to learn what is required from each class.
Remember, when looking at a possible show horse, whether it is in your own paddock or you are thinking about buying, there are things that can be improved. Muscle can be built up in certain places with correct work, clever trimming can make a big difference (for example, if your horse is light of bone do NOT go crazy with the clippers down the backs of the legs!) and tack can also make a horse look much better (even the biggest, plainest head in the world can be made to look handsome with a good quality but substantial bridle with a flat, wide browband).
Amazingly, action can also be improved upon. A horse or pony that is untrained, unbalanced or is being presented on deep, unsuitable going will often look like it can't move properly. Legs will be going in all directions and the overall picture will be horrendous. This is why you must always have a horse trotted up in front of you and also observe it moving at liberty in the field.
My latest write-up has just been posted, complete with photos- you can read it here. The latest winner, Jody Paddy, enjoyed a show jumping lesson with experienced rider and trainer, Edward Bullock, aboard her lovely bay mare, Prada.
I love most- if not all- types of show horses and ponies. However, an excellent Saddle Hunter (Show Hunter in the UK and Australia) has to be one of my favourites.
Is this the class for you?
If your horse is a handsome, substantial type then this could be the show class for you. Saddle Hunters are big, strong and good looking with plenty of sparkle and a cracking gallop. They originate from the long-standing sport of fox-hunting so they have to look like they could cope with a tough day out with the hounds. The heavier type of thoroughbred, Irish Draughts (both part and purebred) and horses with Cleveland Bay blood have always excelled in Hunter classes.
If you only intend on going to small, local shows then the Saddle Hunter horses will probably all be lumped into a single class. At the larger shows, the Saddle Hunters may well be divided into three classes: Lightweight Hunters, Middleweight Hunters and Heavyweight Hunters.
The one thing that distinguishes the different Saddle Hunter types is how much physical weight they can carry. A good Lightweight should be able to carry up to 12 stone 7lb (about 80kg); Middleweights should be able to cope with up to 14 stone (88kg) and Heavyweights should be able to carry well over 14 stone (88kg+) without any problems.
Judges will assess how much weight a horse can carry by looking at the amount of bone below the knee. You can measure your own horse’s bone by placing a tape measure around the part of the leg that is just below the knee. As a rule, Lightweight Hunters should have 8.5” (roughly 22cm) of bone below the knee, Middleweights should have 8.5” to 9” (22cm to about 23cm) and the Heavyweights should have 9” (23cm+) and over.
The Sadde Hunter type of equine should be presented in a much more understated and subtle way than the Hacks and Riding Horses of the showing world. Equipment should be well looked after, and good quality if you can afford it, but there is no need for the flashy trappings that are expected with other types of show animals.
The bridle will usually be made out of brown leather, although black is perfectly acceptable if you own a black or grey horse. Hunter bridles are usually heavier than the ones worn by Hacks and Riding Ponies (3/4” (1.9cm) cheek pieces rather than the 1/2” (1.3cm) cheek pieces worn by hacks). This is because the head of the Saddle Hunter is generally larger and nobler looking than the elegant and dainty little heads of the Show Hack. If you are confused about different bridle weights then simply ask your friendly local saddlery store who will, no doubt, be happy to point you in the right direction. A double bridle or a pelham bit is suitable for most Hunter classes but a snaffle is correct for the four year old or novice classes.
The ideal saddle for the Hunter classes should be straight cut, to show off your horse’s shoulder.
Plaits should be less dainty than those worn by the Show Hack or Riding Pony but should still be neat and sewn with thread which is the same colour as the mane.
On arrival at the showground, give him another quick brush over and apply a shine-enhancing spray, a variety of which can be purchased at most saddlery stores. Make-up, although popular in many show classes, should be kept to a minimum with Hunters. If you can’t resist the urge to apply some products then make sure you don’t add more than a touch of petroleum jelly to the muzzle, legs and dock (behind the tail.) The idea is to present your horse as an attractive working animal, not as an overly made-up floozy!
What You Should Wear:
Most Saddle Hunter riders, both male and female, choose to wear yellow or beige coloured breeches, a plain shirt, a stock and stock pin in a colour that matches the rest of the outfit and a tweed hacking jacket, topped off with a navy, velvet riding hat, long black boots and fawn coloured, leather gloves. Spurs can also be worn, to add authenticity. ‘Dummy’ spurs can be purchased from most equine stores, should you not wish to wear real ones.
What to Expect from the Class:
The one, vital thing that really sets the Hunter class apart from the other disciplines is the gallop. The Saddle Hunter is expected to show that it can perform a proper gallop, at full pelt, both in company and within its own individual presentation. If your horse really comes into his own at this pace then make the most out of it, get up out of the saddle, and show the judge what your horse can do. However, do remember that you must be able to pull your horse up easily and smoothly as well....!
Check out this Australian article for more tips and advice
There are also a few videos of British Show/Saddle Hunters at the Horse of the Year Show on YouTube: Heavyweight Hunters HOYS 2008, Lightweight Hunters HOYS 2008, Hunter of the Year HOYS 2007 and Intermediate Small Hunter HOYS 2008. Happy viewing!
I follow the Showring Online forum, a message board which gives New Zealanders the opportunity to discuss everything from upcoming shows to which jacket to wear in a particular class.
Anyway, I was reading a thread about the new Show Riding Horse section and an interesting point was raised. Should British judges be invited to assess horses at the New Zealand Horse of the Year Show? According to the poster:
'It is funny that we want to model our showing classes on what UK does, as there are many people out there that don't want UK judges to judge here!! They feel that we base ourselves on what happens in Australia, not the UK, so we should be getting Australian judges to judge at HOYS here. Interesting concept, when the English can judge conformation as good as anyone else and have less idea about any of our competitors.'
An interesting opinion isn't it? I can kind of see where they are coming from as there are certain key differences between the UK and NZ when it comes to the show ring. For example, turnout of both horse and rider is very different so I would certainly not expect a British judge to be able to properly judge a turnout class in New Zealand.
I am also of the opinion that hacks in Australia and New Zealand are streets ahead of the UK, as far as quality, type, conformation and performace go. So perhaps it wouldn't be particularly useful to fly a British judge in for those classes
However, I do think it would be a mistake to exclude British judges from the Show Pony classes. The classes are judged exactly the same in both countries (60% suitablity and safeness, 40% conformation and paces- check the British Show Pony Society rules out here). The only difference is that, in the UK, riders are asked for a freestyle individual performance whereas NZ judges usually insist on a set workout. Plus, although Show Pony breeding, presentation and performace in both NZ and Australia has come along in leaps and bounds, with ponies now even being exported from this side of the world to England (e.g. Willowcroft Regal Bronze), I still think an awful lot can be learned from the British judges. It would be a shame to shut NZ off from that valuable chance to further improve and learn.
I think that the hunter classes still have a looooong way to go in the Southern Hemisphere as well. I think the occasional visit from an iconic British hunter judge, such as Richard Ramsey, could be really useful in further improving the quality and performance of saddle hunters in this country.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the mattter. I do believe that we can learn from any other country that is breeding, producing and competing show horses and ponies, be it the UK, Australia, South Africa or any others that I have missed out! No country is going to show their horses in exactly the same way- just as no country is going to train/produce/present their dressage or eventing horses in the same way. But it doesn't mean that we can't pick up some valuable tips and advice from them to further improve the sport in our own country
I have already written an article about the Riding Horse class over at Equine Trader but thought I would cover it here as well. The more information that's out there about this new class, the better chance competitors have of understanding it and being able to enter the class confidently.
I know that there has been some debate over whether this new class is necessary in New Zealand. However, I have seen plenty of horses in both hack and hunter line-ups that don't fit the mould for that particular class but would make stonking Riding Horses. Hopefully, this additional class will give these competitors a chance to get out there and hold their own.
So far, the following shows have decided to hold Show Riding Horse classes for the 2009/10 season (that I am aware of). If you know of any others, let me know
- Hawkes Bay A&P
- Warkworth A&P
- Kumeu A&P
- The Royal New Zealand Show (Canterbury)
- Manawatu A&P
- Waikato's World
Here is a guide to the Riding Horse that was kindly given to me by the British Show Horse AssociationHeight:
In the UK, the Riding Horses are divided into two sections: Small and Large. A Small Riding Horse is anything exceeding 148cm (14.2hh) and not exceeding 158cm (15.2hh). A Large Riding Horse is any horse over 158cm (15.2hh)
It is often said that the Riding Horse is somewhere between the Lightweight Hunter and the Show Hack, and that it does not have the substance and strength of the hunter, nor the elegance and daintiness of the hack. A far better description is that it has the stride and gallop of a quality lightweight hunter combined with the obedience, manners and schooling of the Hack.
A good riding horse need not only perform in the show ring but has the bone and substance to be found in the hunting field, or going cross country, three day eventing, or merely taking its rider for an enjoyable hack round the countryside.
The Riding Horse should have plenty of good quality, flat bone, be deep through the girth and have strong powerful second thighs and a well rounded backside, lots of muscle and strength, short across the loins and with the length of back concentrated on the quarters, so that you have a powerful engine. They need to be able to gallop. A very sloping shoulder is excellent, so there is plenty to sit behind and the horse is able to have a long stride, with a neck coming out of the top of the withers and a good length, narrowing elegantly behind the head so that the head and neck are not restricted by a fat thick structure. The horse needs to be able to flex and bridle happily and comfortably, and be able to breathe easily while being ridden in collection.
The body should be in proportion and foursquare, the legs, especially viewed from the front should not appear too close, or too wide. The horse should move straight, without dishing or plaiting and stand straight on all four legs on good well shaped feet.
A good looking head is very desirable, but there is quite a lot of variation; from a dished slightly Araby head, to a longer straighter, more thoroughbred head, what is not wanted is a tiny pony head or anything with a common cobby aspect, Roman nose or bumps between the eyes!
Way of Going:
When watching the go round judges look for a horse which is walking with a long and easy stride, covering the go round well, swinging its shoulder freely and tracking up well. They want to see a longer rein walk, not a horse pulled in with its head scrunched up to its chest. The horse should be swinging its head slightly in time to the walk and have its head in front of the perpendicular, ears pricked and a happy, calm look.
At the trot they look again for a long swinging stride, the tail carried easily and swinging from side to side – the sign of a relaxed, swinging, working back – and a comfortable easy head carriage, with the bit held quietly in a wet mouth, no open mouths or grinding teeth – a particular hate. The head should be straight and in line with the direction, not tilted or crooked. They look especially for a steady rhythm or cadence, showing that the horse is working from behind and is carrying itself – not having its nose pulled in by the reins and kicked along all the time.
At canter it’s much the same. Judges look for a smooth slowish, steady canter which gives the impression the rider is totally at ease and the pair could swing along all day in superb comfort.
When gallop is shown ideally the horse only needs to show some definite lengthening of the stride and lowering along the long side of the ring, sliding into an easy gallop and out without fuss. Sadly this is not often seen; quite often they rush about with fast short strides. Galloping is not about racing or jumping off the corner as in a gymkhana, but showing lowering and lengthening – (this used to be called ventre-a-terre) in just half a dozen strides and a calm return to slower paces.
Show Riding Horses are traditionally shown in brown tack with a coloured browband, although the browband should be more discreet than what a Hack or Riding Pony would wear. Double bridles or Pelham bits are used. However, a snaffle is acceptable in novice classes. Saddles should be straight-cut to show off the horse’s shoulder. Manes should be plaited, tails pulled and legs and faces trimmed.
Riders usually wear a tweed jacket, with shirt and matching tie, buff/canary coloured breeches, a navy hat and black long leather boots. Show canes are generally carried.
The latest RAS rulebook also includes an explanation of the Show Riding Horse class.
The photo at the top of this post is courtesy of Carol Bardo, owner of The Philanderer. The Philanderer (known as Phil to his friends) is a fantastic example of a Large Riding Horse. At only seven years of age, he was first and champion at the British Horse of the Year Show 2008. He was also Supreme Ridden at the Royal International Horse Show 2008. Other championships include Supreme PUK(S) champion, East of England, Towerlands and he was Sidesaddle winner at Royal Windsor.
Welcome to New Zealand Horse Tales. I started writing this blog as I am passionate about horses, and particularly showing. I find it difficult to pick a favourite class- Show Hunter, Hack, Riding Pony, Mountain & Moorland, Cobs..I love them all!
I wanted somewhere to share horse and showing news from across the world, and to occasionally include my own updates and views.I hope you enjoy following my posts. Feel free to comment or drop me a line whenever and on whatever subject matter you choose.
I have been keeping an eye on this story over the past few months. It has really shaken up the UK showing scene and there will be a few no-shows at the Horse of the Year Show in October because of it.
Basically, a vet in Essex (my home county....ahem) has been accused of granting life height certificates to over-height show horses and ponies. So far this year, the Joint Measurement Board (JMB) has recalled 62 horses and ponies for remeasurement and word is that more are pending. Last year, a tiddly 20 were recalled.
The owners of 23 of the horses have chosen not to re-present their animals...this means that their height certificates are now invalid.
If these horses and ponies are indeed over height, think of the implications. This means that a large number of worthy competitiors may well have missed out on picking up their HOYS qualifying ticket. You know- that prize we truck our horses all over the country for. That ultimate goal that keeps us dragging ourselves out of bed at the crack of dawn, plaiting up in the dark and spending endless amounts of money on entry fees, sparkly browbands and special shampoos. And it's not like the situation can be rectified either. It would be an impossible task to track down every individual that entered a HOYS qualifying class and was second to a horse that was actually over-height. They have fundamentally been cheated out of their precious HOYS ticket.
Many of the animals recalled have been found to measure as much as 5.80cm over what their certificates stated. Are we supposed to believe that their owners were not aware that they were that much taller than the rules for their chosen class specified?
It's all very dodgy and a sad reflection on how some people regard the sport of showing (i.e. it's all about the ribbon, no matter what) It's good to see that over-height animals are finally being clamped down on though. Fingers crossed we start seeing a bit more honesty and fair-play in the show ring from now on.
Keep up with the story over at Horse & Hound
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