A new society for ridden heavy horses has been launched to encourage a greater understanding of these magnificent animals, and bring showing classes in line with other organisations.
The British Ridden Heavy Horse (BRHH) Society is for ridden purebred heavy horses registered as a British Shire, Suffolk, Clydesdale and Percheron. It also has a section for first-cross heavy horses, who are by a registered sire or dam of one of these four breeds.
“The Ridden Heavy Horse Society will both champion our indigenous heavy horse breeds as a ridden show horse, some of which are now endangered and others on the rare breeds list, whilst trying to encourage more shows to put on ridden heavy horse show classes with proper ride judges who understand the unique character of the heavy horse breeds under saddle,” said Wendy Toomer-Harlow, one of the society's founders.
Showing guidelines have been drawn up with help of established ride judges and heavy horse breed judges and it is hoped to standardise judging rules at all levels of shows.
Membership is free to competitors and to kick off the BRHH’s first showing season, there will be 30 qualifiers for the Kilmannan Ridden Heavy Horse Championship. The highest placed pure bred Shire, Suffolk, Clydesdale and Percheron, within an affiliated pure bred heavy horse ridden class, will qualify for the finals at Equifest in Peterborough on 16-17 August.
The society will also offer an annual points awards scheme for the best British ridden purebred as well as a British Ridden Heavy Horse Enthusiasts Award, for those who champion the breeds, but don't necessarily compete themselves.
Fans of heavy horses should also head to Arena UK in Grantham, Linconlshire on 22-23 March for the world’s largest gathering of Shire horses. Competitors from all over the world will attend to show their horses in a variety of classes, which include in-hand, ridden and driven turnouts as well as dressage to music.
“The National Shire Horse Show showcases the Society's work of protecting this endangered breed. We are very much looking forward to welcoming visitors to celebrate the Shire over the weekend,” said David Ralley-Davies, secretary of the Shire Horse Society.
For more information or to buy tickets, visit the Shire Horse Society website.