I was with friends at the Moreton Show yesterday, my final judging date for 2014. Though craft entries were down on previous years in terms of numbers, we were still kept busy judging cushions, kindle covers and bird feeders!
Colleagues working amongst the dahlias had more entries than usual to keep them busy and there was a happy buzz about the place all morning.
Thankfully, we completed our work well before lunchtime and there was a chance to go and take a look around this large showground. No sunshine, sadly, but at least it stayed dry and reasonably warm.
I find the goods on offer fascinating and continue to be surprised at how far a “country living” theme can be stretched.
Of course, an agricultural show is heaven for boys of all ages and this pint-sized tractor was a more practical alternative to the behmoths we frequently find ourselves stuck behind on the roads around here.
As always, I made my way over to the livestock area, where the announcer was highlighting the role of the apprentice judge in the cattle ring. I think that Liz, the trainee craft judge working alongside Carolyn and I yesterday morning was pleased to avoid such attention!
As always, there was great interest in what the judges had to say, and of course, in their final decision.
Those who’d already had a successful morning were basking in their glory and celebrating with a bite to eat.
Others were having their photographs taken for the record.
And some were just being prepared for their moment of stardom! Isn’t it great to see youngsters taking an active role in these events?
Elsewhere, there were long lines of patient competitors, waiting to be judged whilst their owners shared a bit of show gossip.
It was getting near lunchtime and having made arrangements to meet friends in the Members Enclosure shortly, I kept an eye on the clock and thought of Ellis as I passed the traders with their tweeds. Plenty of choice here in all sizes!
As I waited to cross the entrance to the ring, I heard the announcer invite the Ladies Hunter class to hurry on in, for time was pressing and they’d been waiting long enough already! I stood and watched as seven or eight beautifully presented horsewomen rode past, only then noting that they were all riding sidesaddle. Who knew that this traditional form of riding was becoming more popular, for a somewhat surprising reason? Not me!
I know nothing about horses. I know less about equestrianism. Even so, I could admire the skill and the efforts that had been taken to achieve the beautiful presentation of both horse and rider, not to mention the ease with which they moved. So poised and elegant!
Yet this seemed a crazy way of riding, perched on one side of the horse and looking so insecure!
The judges stood in the centre of the ring, watching as the competitors walked gracefully around the perimeter.
They broke into a trot for the second lap, then a canter and finally, oh my goodness, they galloped. Cries of “steady on!” were to be heard as these huge horses were brought under control by both experienced horsewomen and their surprisingly young and slight competition.
I found myself wishing I knew more about what was expected of these riders, how they were judged and a little more about how they control their horses (though no thank you, I didn’t want to try it for myself!). It appeared effortless and yet it clearly was anything but.
As I realised I needed to be off into the marquee for lunch, the competitors had assembled in the ring and I realised why the equestrian judge was dressed the part – she was going to ride each of the horses around the ring for herself, so each rider dismounted and a small step ladder was brought in for the judge to jump on each horse in turn. She too cantered and galloped around, having a lovely time it appeared!
I have no idea who won, I’m sad to say, because all of this was taking rather longer than I’d imagined. So, I left the ladies, their horses and the judges to it and thought that next time I’m at this or another similar show, I will look out for the Lady Hunters and in the meantime, find out a little more about what they do.
A lovely lunch was a satisfying close to my judging season and a cheerful buttonhole for each judge and steward was a delightful gift from one of the show’s sponsors.
Finally, a moose update for those who have enquired: sadly, he is still on the loose and a replacement is being sought