"The future is brighter for heavy horses, thanks to the so-called 'Prince Charles effect'", says Nigel Murfitt, Head Judge of the Heavy Horse competition at this year’s Yeovil Show, which takes place on Saturday 14th and Sunday the 15th of July 2018.
"Despite having played such a crucial role in our farming history, our four breeds of heavy horse are now an endangered species and to have a future they must have a purpose as they’re too expensive to keep purely as ornaments." he says.
"But with the recent news about Prince Charles opting to use draught horses in place of machinery in some of the royal parks and estates, hopefully this will encourage more landowners to follow suit. These breeds of horse are particularly good for logging as they can often go where the tractor can’t, due to being so sure-footed."
Heavy horses are widely used to do grass cutting on parkland and have recently been drafted in to Hampton Court. And despite their size, they are also suitable for riding. Despite being a draught breed, with careful training and schooling they make excellent riding animals. There has been a growing trend for riding heavy horses in recent years, and there’s now a Heavy Horse Championship at the Horse of the Year Show.
Nigel, who grew up surrounded by heavy horses, is a highly experienced judge and has selected ‘Best in Show’ at a number of competitions all over the country, including the Royal Show.
It's not just those on four legs that Nigel's famous for judging though - he's is also well known to Saturday night TV viewers as one of the favourites of ‘The 100’ judging panel from the BBC TV entertainment series, All Together Now.
He's delighted that the entries to the Heavy Horse Competition at the Yeovil Show, sponsored by A & J Wakely & Son, are up by 15% to 44 this year and says,. “If you love heavy horses and want to find out more about them, Yeovil Show is definitely the place to be.”
Here are five points Nigel will be looking out for in a horse when judging the Heavy Horse Classes
1) Great movement
2) Good breeding standards
3) Be well turned out
4) Good mannered behaviour
5) The WOW factor