Held in the picturesque private grounds of Windsor Castle and thoroughly enjoyed by none other than Her Majesty the Queen, The Royal Windsor Horse Show is one of the most prestigious events in the equestrian calendar and certainly my favourite of the year.
Excitingly, my first opportunity as brand ambassador for Hiho Silver allowed me to takeover their Instagram for the day and there certainly wasn’t a shortage of things to share.
Alongside my first brand ambassador appointment, I was very kindly allowed the opportunity to cover the event for Absolute Horse Magazine – my first ever press pass and what an event for it!
There’s so much more to RWHS than just the showing, although that’s certainly not something to miss.
In fact, the cob championship was an unexpected favourite of mine. These horses really were magnificent and not to be underestimated; although their vast and heavy build would suggest otherwise, they managed to gallop the length of the arena at quite a speed. It was seriously impressive and totally captivating.
The cobs were followed by something altogether very different. The stands filled, as the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music got underway. Charlotte Dujardin unsurprisingly took top spot the evening before and as usual all eyes were on her.
A new combination of only three months, Charlotte had taken reins on Sonnar Murray-Brown’s Horse, Erlentanz. You’d think the pair had been competing together for sometime, as usual Charlotte made the test look effortless.
They rode a beautiful test, riding to Valegro’s famous ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ music. For me, the music alone evokes memories of some of the most wonderful tests and it is always such a pleasure to watch Charlotte ride.
They were champs once again, taking first place with an outstanding 81.9%.
This year also brought us 90 minutes of captivating equestrian displays, in The Pageant.
New to the event for 2019, with a narrated history of Queen Victoria, sing-a-longs and equestrian performances from around the world, they really put on quite the show and the atmosphere was electric.
I’ll be honest, The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery’s display was the one I was most looking forward to. I caught up with The King’s Troop Left Section Commander, Lieutenant James Billingham, before their Musical Drive that evening.
Exceptional horsemanship and courage was certainly shown by both the soldiers and their 68 horses during the drive. I could barely even begin to imagine the logistics of getting all the horses, equipment and people to an event like Windsor; all in all it’s a 3-4 day process, from preparing and loading the kit and the guns onto the HGVs, to boxing up on the day and then off-loading at the other end and setting up the stables.
But of course, it doesn’t end there, life at the Barracks in Woolwich is certainly busy too. There are two draught parades a week, in which they run through the Drive twice. On the other four days of the week, a 6-mile route is ridden through London, whether it be from South East London, starting from Woolwich or if they are forward mount for a ceremonial event out of Wellington Barracks, riding through Central London.
I asked James what the relationship was like between the soldiers and the horses, “Our guys love the horses. They genuinely love them, they really, really do”. I’m sure it’s the relationship between them, that allows such remarkable performances.
Not only do they ride the horses in Ceremonial Displays and Musical Drives, but some horse and rider combinations go on to compete in other disciplines too. Training in their own time to prepare for the competitions, they really get to work closely with the horses. They were able to show off their training in the Land Rover Services Team Jumping on Saturday, where they took second and third place.
Something else I particularly enjoyed and previously only watched on tv, was the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix.
It’s seriously impressive to watch how they manage to get the horses around each of the tight obstacles, which looked an almost impossible task before you saw them complete it. It’s that ‘edge of your seat’ kind of excitement and watching them splash through the water elements made for great watching too.
It’s safe to say I was totally caught up in the magic that is The Royal Windsor Horse Show and I’m already looking forward to returning next year.