At the 2022 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), the country’s best working hunter riders and their bold horses battled it out for the Westown Stud working hunter of the year championship, which was eventually won by Alice Homer riding her own Little Joe.
Course designer David Cole used every inch of the NEC’s Andrews Bowen international arena to provide competitors with a 10-fence track, made of jumps provided by Cheshire Show Services, which incorporated inventive rustic obstacles as well as clever lines and turns. Only four clears were produced across the 39 entries. But how do you think your horse would take on the challenge presented in the HOYS working hunter championship?
Make your mind up once you’ve walked the course…
A neat yet sizeable oxer with a gate in front provided a welcome start to the course. Four horses tapped this fence.
After a left hand turn, combinations rode down the long side to the second fence, a three-pole upright with houses to the front. The haystacks leading into the fence caused a couple of horses to refuse and a few knocked it down.
A wide white oxer incorporating a brush filler to the front. This was cleared well by most horses with just three rolling it in total.
The line to four meant riders needed to sit up and nail the left hand turn on the approach. The gate in the middle of the upstanding wall, reminiscent of something you would see out hunting, was generally tackled well by each of the combinations and just a few knocked it down.
The rider frightener of the course. A chunky yet quite narrow oxer with a wooden filler which was approached through a mini-forest type set-up with brushes, gates and dogs.
Challenging in more ways than one; coming soon after the fifth fence and made from light skinny poles. It was knocked a few times and a couple of horses stopped here.
The unexpected bogey fence where many combinations with clear score sheets up until now had a knock down. The jagged planks did not stand even the lightest touch so only the horses who made a real jump for the sky cleared it.
8. A & B
The first double of the course which was knocked over several times.
No working hunter course is complete without a water tray, and the one placed beneath fence nine proved typically spooky.
10. A & B
The final effort of the track which required careful riding. It did catch some out, with a couple of combinations frustratingly making their first errors here.
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Credit: Alex Robinson
Credit: Stephanie Bateman
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