Will this horse last a full day on the hunting field? And other questions asked by the Royal Windsor amateur hunter judge

  • With the 2022 Royal Windsor Horse Show just around the corner, H&H catches up with amateur hunter ride judge Michaela Bowling (pictured) to find out what she’ll be looking for on the day.

    Which judging panels are you on?

    I am on both British Show Horse Association (BSHA) and Sports Horse Breeding of Great Britain (SHB(GB)) panels as well as the Coloured Horse and Pony Society (CHAPS) and Retraining of Racehorses (RoR).

    What will you be looking for when the combinations enter the ring?

    I want to see a horse going forward, but not being rushed out of its rhythm. The horse needs to look happy to be in the ring; there’s nothing worse than seeing a horse with its ears back being nagged around. The amateur hunter classes are split into sections for small hunters, lightweight hunters and middleweight/heavyweight hunters, so each horse should be true to type. As a ride judge I’ll be looking at each horse and asking myself which ones look like they’ll give a good ride. I want to think “I can’t wait to have a ride on that”.

    What sort of ride will you be looking for?

    I’m quite a lazy rider so I want a horse which will take me forward. I want a horse which is substantial enough to last a full day on the hunt field. Also, I want to be sat ‘into’ a horse instead of being perched on top; the ride should be comfortable. Of course, manners come into play, too. I like a bold horse who is light on his feet and responsive. Once again, I’ll be rewarding those horses who seem happy to be there.

    What are some of your show ring pet hates?

    I don’t like horses looking sour and stuffy, and not moving forward. The picture of the horse and rider should be elegant. I hope each rider will enjoy themselves; it’s a prestigious show but not putting too much pressure on yourself can aid the overall impression of the combination.

    Finally, what makes Royal Windsor so special, and any sign-off advice for those riding there for the first time?

    I’ve previously judged the ladies’ hunters and small hunters at Windsor and the atmosphere is electric. There’s a lot going on so ensure you’re prepared for the environment; there really isn’t another show like it. It’s all about The Queen at Windsor, and it’s a privilege to be asked to judge there.

    Continued below…

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