Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Hadleigh Show 2012

As the powerful grey cantered around the show ring I couldn't help but smile. This was turning into a great day. Yesterday I went to the Hadleigh show. It was a day of two firsts, first time at the show and first time visiting the Suffolk village of Hadleigh. I had no idea what to expect before we arrived but as we drove through the narrow main street I thought the show itself wouldn't be too big.

Wrong. It was much bigger than the size of the village would indicate and there was loads to do. I hadn't brought Dot with me as I thought she would be bored watching horses, show jumping and in hand classes all day - but she would have loved it. There was a funfair for a start (not that my friend or I had any inclination to try it out), craft tents, sheep shearing demos, face painting, games, art exhibition, and a huge marquee full of wonderful-looking food from Suffolk producers. Cheeses, pickles, wines, and the most amazing cakes, all homemade and looking so much better than the stuff you see in the supermarket. I can vouch for the cakes - I ate the most enormous rock cake and it just melted in the mouth. I bought another on leaving at the end of the day and just finished it this morning.

I wasn't so keen on the livestock section, I found it sad knowing that the magnificent cattle on show would end their days as food, and some of them had their babies with them. We didn't hang around there long.

The donkey class was good - the winner was a stallion who spent the entire time trying to get to the mares and shouted about it constantly. One mare had her foal with her and what a cutie it was.

Another foal stayed with mum for her class - both were Suffolk Punches so mum was massive and baby was well, big, but gorgeous. As mum paraded round the ring in her finery, baby followed - and gave her handler a hard time, bucking, rearing, jumping around "I don't want to do this, I want to be with my mum," you could just hear her protesting.

The Suffolk Punches are the most magnificent horses, massive and with such presence. There are not many of them left sadly, as they were used for heavy work and ploughing on farms and fell out of favour when machinery became the norm. Their numbers are listed as critical, but thankfully there are organisations that are committed to keeping the breed going, so numbers are gradually rising once more.

I definitely recommend a visit to Hadleigh and the annual show if you happen to be in East Anglia this time next year. It's a taste of England as it used to be - the stewards wear suits and bowler hats, the judges (women) long skirts and jackets, some of the competitors even ride side saddle. It's a chance to sample delicious country foods and it's a day of fresh air and exercise (all that walking around), ideal for getting the kids away from the TV.

Beautiful Suffolk Punches

Mum with baby to the side

Yes, this is a foal

I don't want to go this way, I want to go that way!

The foal is taller than the handler!

You can just see her or him next to mum

Not a very good photo of the winning donkey stallion

Mummy and baby

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