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Why equestrianism will always remain an important part of The Royal Cheshire County Show

PUBLISHED: 00:00 21 March 2018

All action pony club games in the main ring here featuring the East Cheshire black cats

All action pony club games in the main ring here featuring the East Cheshire black cats

Archant

Equestrianism is an important part of The Royal Cheshire County Show as Christine Newton Chairman of the Light Horse category explains.

Sophie Bux and daughter, Amelia (2yrs), with colt foal winner, 'Marieth Maverick'Sophie Bux and daughter, Amelia (2yrs), with colt foal winner, 'Marieth Maverick'

While the Royal Cheshire County Show is one of the most prestigious events on the agricultural calendar, it is very much an important date on the equestrian calendar too.

The horse section, saw a staggering 3,300 entries over the two days of the show last year and on June 19th and 20th 2018 thousands once again will be beating a path to the Tabley showground to exhibit their equestrian skills.

‘That is the usual number of entries,’ Christine Newton, Chairman of the Light Horse section of the show says, as she gears up for the busiest two days of her year.

‘Of course some people may enter their horse into two or more categories but even so, it does mean we literally have thousands of horses here every year. It is in fact the biggest part of the Royal Cheshire County Show.’

Atkinson Action Horses perform in the main arenaAtkinson Action Horses perform in the main arena

Christine, who was born in Over Alderley, grew up in Prestbury and now living in Winsford, initially volunteered as a steward at the show in 1989 and worked her way up, achieving the position of Light Horse Chairman in 2006.

‘My daughters Sarah and Debbie were in the show world as children and I wanted to give something back,’ she explains.

‘I had been a bookkeeper/company secretary and rode as a child, my girls came up through the showing world and over the years I have seen it really grow, it has so many more classes now.’

One of the reasons the horse section is so popular is that the competitions qualify riders and their steeds for the pinnacle of equestrianism, the Horse of the Year Show.

Christine Newton, Chair of Cheshire Show Light Horse Section, with Sophie *** Local Caption *** Christine Newton, Chair of Cheshire Show Light Horse SectionChristine Newton, Chair of Cheshire Show Light Horse Section, with Sophie *** Local Caption *** Christine Newton, Chair of Cheshire Show Light Horse Section

At Cheshire the categories are split into two – Light Horse category, which includes show jumping and in-hand and the Shires. Both have different sets of rules and different people in the driving seat.

‘I am in charge of the Light Horse section and I run most of the ridden classes,’ explains Christine.

‘it’s a year-long ongoing thing. We work on it all the time. The judges can only do one Horse of the Year qualifying show a year so to get our judges we have to start appointing them before this year’s show, so I’ll be contacting people now for next year, then I will be putting together my team of stewards. I have about 30-odd stewards in my section over the two days of the show.’

As well as organising the competitions Christine has to deal with the more practical matters in the run up to the event, ensuring that the rings are right and the ground is in good condition.

Christine Newton (right) Chair of Cheshire Show Light Horse Section, with Danielle Heath at Townsend Farm, SandbachChristine Newton (right) Chair of Cheshire Show Light Horse Section, with Danielle Heath at Townsend Farm, Sandbach

The Light Horse division ranges from the lead rein category with children as young as four-years-old competing, to adults.

‘The children are the stars of the show,’ says Christine. ‘But you know you’ve been here a long time when you see the children you first saw in these little classes who are now bringing their own children into the ring.’

As well as The Royal Cheshire Show Christine’s role takes her to other competitions around the country, supporting those in other shows and events.

‘Now I do the area shows and the national championships, about six or seven events a year at least,’ she reveals.

Christine Newton, Chair of Cheshire Show Light Horse Section, with Danielle Heath's horse, Bershan Dragonfly, at Townsend Farm, Sandbach.Christine Newton, Chair of Cheshire Show Light Horse Section, with Danielle Heath's horse, Bershan Dragonfly, at Townsend Farm, Sandbach.

‘But that’s nothing compared to years ago when I’d be doing one or two every weekend.’

Over the years there have been surprisingly few mishaps although she does admit they have had to get the air ambulance to fly in a couple of times when there has been an accident but there have been more highs than lows.

For example she got to meet both Princess Anne and the Countess of Wessex were both former Presidents of the show.

‘Obviously they are both interested in horses even though they are presidents of the entire show, not just the equestrian section,’ says Christine.

‘I took them in the ring to present a rosette and I did have a photograph taken with the countess of Wessex when she came in 2015.’

Christine loves the social side of her role, meeting other stewards both at the Royal Cheshire Show and other events she attends over the year.

‘We have a great team here and everyone works together . I feel very proud to be part of the show.’

The Royal Cheshire County Show June 19-20

Contact the show at Clay House Farm, Flittogate Lane, Tabley, Knutsford, WA16 0HJ, 01565 650200 www.royalcheshireshow.org.

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