Fast and Furious Inter Hunt Relay & More Sedate Heavy Horses at Royal Bath & West Show

The quintessentially British past time of attending agricultural shows comes round again, most of which have Royal patronage. The Royal Bath and West Show in Somerset is no exception.  The show was started by philanthropist Edmund Rack in 1777. It runs for more days than any other agricultural show in the UK. Sophie, Countess of Wessex became the show’s latest Royal Patron and also vice president of the four day annual event since 2010.

The show has over 200,000 visitors each year. It was started to encourage agriculture and countryside commerce; and this year with over 2400 cattle, pigs and sheep, never mind the 2000 horses expected to take part, its aim certainly seems to have been achieved.

Farmer Michael Eaves, and organiser of the famous Glastonbury Music Festival, just down the road from the show ground said that this show was his inspiration to start the Glastonbury event in 1970. Michael Eaves still runs his farming business of 500 milking cows and has been known on several occasions to show some of his cattle at the show, and all this continues regardless of the music.

Inter Hunt relay

For some years, the show has held the Inter Hunt Relay. This is a knockout competition essentially for members of various hunts to race against each other over jumps. There are three members to each team and each rider from each team rides against one other from another team over the set course, at the end of which they have to pass a baton onto the next rider in the team.


Today, six teams competed against each other. The winners of the heats plus the quickest loosing team then go onto the final ride offs. The first two teams to ride represented the locally based Taunton Vale Foxhound Hunt and the Catterstock Hunt. The winners of this heat were the Catterstock. Then it was the turn of the Westwell Barn Harriers and the Cotswold Hunt, and this time the Cotswold Hunt prevailed. Finally the Beaufort Hunt riders went against the Bicester Hunt with Waddon Chase and the Beaufort Hunt speeded to the finals.

The Final gallop

In the finals, the Beaufort team, who had been quick and accurate throughout, collected 20 seconds of penalties for allowing four jumps to be knocked down. The winners were the Catterstock Hunt Team, although the Beaufort team were actually quicker, but lost due to their penalty collection!

Heavy Horse Pairs

Apart from the many showing and show jumping classes, there is always the great favourite with the spectators, the heavy horse turnout. Today there were two classes, the Pairs Heavy Horse Trade Turnout and the Ladies Carts, which somehow seems a rather insulting title!

In the trade turnout, there were six competitors, most of whom were pulling brewer’s dray carts. The line up consisted of a pair of Canadian Belgian Heavy Horses, (the most common type of heavy horse in the United States); a pair of French bred Percherons, three pairs of Shire horses and a pair of Suffolk heavy horses. One set of the Shires were grey, which is actually quite unusual as they are normally bay horse with white feet and often a white blaze down the face.

Many people think that horses actually pull the carts, but in fact they don’t, they push them. They push into the collars around their necks which is connected to the cart by ropes or chains, thus the cart is propelled forwards.

Following the judging, by veteran judge Walt Bedford from York, the winners were one of the pairs of shires owned and driven by D.S Wilkins. Second were the Percherons driven by J McDermott.

Winner. Shires owned and driven by D & S Wilkins

The Ladies Cart Heavy Horses

The other heavy horse class was the Ladies Carts. Again six lined up in front of the judge Walt Bedford. After some deliberation, the winner was the Canadian Belgian bred Donhead Hall Liberty Bell.

Winner of the ‘Ladies Carts’. Donhead Hall Liberty Bell.


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