Pleasure horses and ponies were out in force on Sunday, and what a lovely bunch they were!
Any breed is welcomed in these classes and there was a wide variety on display. Pleasure horses do not have to have the conformation of a show horse, the main criterion is that they should be a genuine pleasure to ride. This year, competitors had to qualify for the Horse of the Year show.
Megan Chamberlain from Takapau was the judge for the ponies, and judged the pleasure horses at this show two years ago. She’s been involved with pleasure horses for about ten years and was very impressed with the ponies in front of her.
“I’m basically looking for a nice kind horse, one that you would want to ride all day. There is a degree of schooling involved; they still have to go well and their temperament is a huge part of it. They have to be kind.”
Megan herself has competed in pleasure classes, after spending many years doing western performance riding. She said pleasure classes are lower key. “It is easier to achieve what we see out here than the open ring showing which involves so much. There isn’t as much pressure, riders have a good time. This is still a good competition, however.”
Riders were put through their paces in the various classes. In the championship class, the workout involved the rider getting off the horse, leading it and then remounting using a mounting block which wasn’t allowed to be moved. Most of the horses stood perfectly still while their riders got back on, earning top points there. The workout also involved a rein-back, walk, trot and canter, and a canter on a long rein.
There were some delightful horses on show, some getting a bit sweaty in the heat, but then again, so were the riders in their jackets! The judges looked super-cool, however.
The Champion Pleasure Pony of the Year was Classic Beauty ridden by Madeleine Leslie. Reserve was Red Baron ridden by Ella Miranda.
Madeleine, from Wellington, rode at this show last year and got fifth in this class, so was delighted. “This is my biggest win,” she said. “Milly [Classic Beauty] is a Connemara cross and I have had her since she was three; I trained her myself.” Madeleine attends the Belmont Pony Club and goes to school at Samuel Marsden in Whitby.
The Champion Pleasure Horse of the Year was Golden Conquest ridden by Natalie Short, with Neo reserve, ridden by Emily Kozlowski. Natalie won five other classes and was second in the Horse Most Suitable for an Adult Learner. That class was won by Rustic Knight II ridden by Tracey Ferguson; the pair also won Best Presented Horse.