I’ve just completed my first ever trip to the Royal Bath & West show and it’s was a great event. I’d go so far as to say that despite the heat encountered over the 3 days I worked, it was quite possibly the best 3 days so far this year…
I give this accolade based mostly on the tales heard from the competitors, grooms, stewards and judges. There were moments of total hilarity, of astonishment and heart-felt levelling situations too. Some superb tips were being offered to those competitors less used to this level of showing.
I was back with the Jay Photos team who really are County & country show specialists here in the south west. The buzz from the show early on was the new location for all the horse rings, having moved from one side of the overall showground to the other this year. Lots of positive remarks from long standing competitors and judges and it was pretty clear to see why they were happy.
I covered the Hunters, Riding Horses, Cobs & Hacks from a ridden aspect and a whole variety of British Native pony breeds from the miniature Shetland through to the glorious Dales pony with the In-hand classes.
… and Cattle!
Maybe more on this another day ?
It was whilst spending time in the showing ‘lines’ that the stories flowed, it was enjoyable to listen in, or, be a part of so many.
I met a Hunter whose main interest in life appears to be Gingernuts or Jaffa Cakes. Then keeping to the orange theme, there was the Cob who loves to start the day with a little bit of marmalade on toast…
There was the usual chatter regarding each other’s horses, little groans about the ride their horse was giving the Judge right now or had giving themselves before the pull-in. Discussions on the journey, the new rings or the next show. And then there’s the congratulatory comments to each other too at the conclusion of a class. Genuine mostly or maybe sometimes through slightly gritted teeth?!
I met a Riding Horse who had needed a goat at home to keep her calm until she’d had a foal and then she finally learnt to settle in life and hasn’t looked back. There was the winning Hunter bred by Darley out of a cobby coloured mare – a classic Cinderella breeding story really in some ways.
One of enjoyable aspects was listening to one of senior Stewards giving a few turnout and general showing etiquette tips as he went about his role preparing the ridden horses for the Judge. Covering areas such hat ribbons and holding the show cane. Everything was delivered in a really helpful, positive manner and being received gratefully.
Like most thing in life, when you see something being done really well then it’s a pleasure to see. It’s even nicer when someone takes the time to selflessly share their own experiences and knowledge to help someone else get that bit further with their own ambitions.
As the days drew on the stories didn’t stop coming forward. A pony club pony who was normally used to dressage and team events suddenly finding themselves in a showing class for the first time at 12 and doing very well indeed. Sad tales of foster mares or foals being spread down the line in the hope that someone knows someone who can help lend a hand. Or how best to deal with the masses of feathers between shows. So much information gets relayed in those lines.
So if you want to learn, keep your eyes open and your ears even more so.
Have a fabulous week.
Final image with thanks to JayPhotos.co.uk