Having lived in the New Forest for six years we had never been to the New Forest Show. Now I know why. We had been deterred by stories of horrific traffic jams but when we went on the first day of this year’s show the traffic was light mid-morning but that sadly was the best part of the day.
We parked easily but unfortunately it was in Wales, given that it was over one and a half miles from the show ground gates. My wife’s pedometer gave us that number in case you think I’m exaggerating.
The event itself is a mixture of farmers and pseudo-landed gentry strolling about in yellow corduroy trousers and checked shirts and chavs from the local campsites stopping to eat ‘Ye Olde Hampshire Sausage baps’ every thirty yards.
But we came to see the animals, so were guaranteed to see some. The Pig enclosure had one sad sow and her brood in a small pen surrounded by camera phones. We couldn’t get to see the cattle and frankly we could get closer to horses on the road home through the forest.
But you ask, the displays must have been great. Yes, the dressage and old milk float display were OK. Slightly more interesting that queuing for a miniature coffee sold by itinerant Latvians but my real complaint was the Metropolitan Police display team.
I’m from London and my idea of a Met Police Mounted Team is a group of mounted police with riot shields kettling Anarchists in Trafalgar Square. No prissy trotting for our fine boy in blue, full gallop with batons raised. Atomkraft Nein Danke, I think not sonny Jim; if you go back that far.
Here we saw some well trained boys and girls trot over faux-hedges at knee height. The horses were probably missing the smell of dope and kebabs in the air. It was billed as thrilling and exciting but it was SO dull. They set the odd arch on fire and the horses jumped through these but I think the horses were as bored as the spectators. The ‘highlight’ we were informed was when the police riders took off their jackets and THEN PUT THEM ON AGAIN. I’m not a horseman but if your job is riding horses in stressful urban situations this seems a useless skill. Tasering a demonstrator at full gallop while strapping on a flak jacket, now you’re talking urban policing.
So like everything at the New Forest Show, this display was rather tame, over-priced and not worth waiting for.