After a three-year break due to Covid-19 and family illness, St Dominic Gymkhana and Dog Show returns on Sunday, August 13 to celebrate its 50th event.
The show was started back in 1968 by four local girls: Diana Irons (nee Morrish), Suzanne Cuming (Daw), Joanne White (Rogers) and Sally Lovejoy (Battishill).
Rosettes were handmade by the girls, consisting of a square of card with tails sometimes rather messily glued on! A far cry from the beautiful two and three-tier rosettes on offer this year.
Competition was modest in the early days with the show being an ‘invitation only’ affair, and the girls only inviting people they thought they could beat! Fast forward to today and up to 100 horses and ponies are expected to attend.
The show has taken place since its inception at Smeaton Farm, originally courtesy of the late Geoff Martin and more recently Chris Poad. The venue is spectacular with panoramic views of the surrounding Tamar Valley, Dartmoor and Plymouth.
Traditional values have been maintained such as keeping the title ‘gymkhana’ rather than ‘horse show’, and resisting calls to expand although four rings now operate. Entrants are encouraged by sympathetic judges and sensibly built fences.
Fundraising has been secondary, but over the years more than £15,000 has been raised for local charities.
Local families and businesses have donated trophies and extra financial support has been obtained Roger Young Land Rover - Saltash and Tamar Valley Meats.
The ever-popular dog show is itself over 40 years old, having been introduced to make the show more attractive to non-horsey villagers. More than 50 dogs of all shapes and sizes are expected to contest the 16 ‘fun’ classes, ranging from most appealing puppy to best veteran and the prettiest bitch.