A class for ridden heavy horses will be held at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) for the first time. The inaugural qualifier will be held at the Shire Horse Society’s National Show, which this year moves to the Staffordshire Showground (March 18-20).
“This championship will give heavy horse riders the opportunity to showcase our four magnificent heavy horse breeds, the Shire, Clydesdale, Percheron and Suffolk,” said Wendy Toomer-Harlow, a founder member of the British Ridden Heavy Horse Society and a council member of the Shire Horse Society. “They will show people just what these versatile heavy horse breeds are capable of under saddle alongside their established draught uses.”
Around 200 horses will attend this year’s National Shire Show — the world’s largest gathering of Shires — to be shown in-hand, ridden and in harness. The show is believed to be one of the oldest almost continual horse shows in the world, having been held for the first time at the Royal Agricultural Hall in London in 1880, when the charity was known as the English Cart Horse Society.
This year it moves to Staffordshire from its former Peterborough home, and will run over three days instead of two, to cater for its increasing popularity. The ridden classes, including the qualifying class for the HOYS championship, are being held on Friday, March 18, and will also feature dressage and concours d’elegance to highlight the grace and elegance of the gentle giants of the horse world.
“The National Shire Show will host the first ever HOYS ridden heavy horse qualifying round and, in doing so, the society will take its place in the history of ridden showing,” added Toomer-Harlow. “This is a very exciting time for all those enthusiasts who are involved in the world of heavy horses and passionate about the promotion of our British heavy breeds going forward into the 21st century.”
Image: Catwg Black Velvet ridden by Stacey Fletcher, courtesy of Jane Muntz-Torres and the Shire Horse Society