Showmanship is a gift that some people possess naturally and others have to work hard to learn. Edward Whittaker, 24, is lucky to be a talented showman, this talent has recently seen him succeed in the showring with both heifers and horses. At the All Breeds All Britain Calf Show (ABAB) he took top honours in the Dairy Shorthorn Showmanship championship leading Tabley Redhot Lady and two weeks previous he led his Shire Horse to win the prestigious Shire championship at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).
Having grown up on a dairy farm Edward said: “There has never been a time at our farm that there hasn’t been Shire Horses since my Grandfather first purchased one. My Dad started showing Shires 45 years ago, so they’ve been as big a part of my life as cows have been.”
Preparation is key and Edward admits that is the biggest similarity between the horses and heifers, handling and feeding them, but the Shires are a much faster pace with judging being weighed heavily on movement and this requires a lot of running!
“I like modern cows and modern horses with big movement. My passion for both is strong, I work at home on the family farm where I rear heifers and in my spare time work with the 18 horses.”
Since ceasing milk production 10 years ago the Whittakers buy maiden heifers and sell them fresh. Alongside heifer rearing Edward also works two days a week for auctioneers Hassall Brothers.
Not only does Edward have a talent for showing, he also has an eye for good animals. His winning Shire was purchased from a picture, over the telephone in June 2016 as a four year old mare. She made her debut in 2017 and out of five shows won four championships and one reserve and was 7th at the HOYS
This year she stood champion at Otley Show and qualified for the Horse of the Year Show at Nantwich, since then she was prepared for HOYS which, as well as feeding and grooming involves weekly runs up the road, similar to walking heifers round the yard the aim with the horses is to have them trot as fast as they will without breaking in to canter.
Success is consistent for Edward, proving it is a talent, not just luck. Showing Shires first started when Edward was 15 years old and he won reserve Shire Young Handler of the Year, progressing to win champion the following year, this year he returned to judge the competition.
Edward is also no stranger to success at the ABAB he had Honourable Mention calf in 2013 in his first year competing and the following year he was champion showman and also had champion calf.
Written by Katie Davidson
Horse of the Year Show pictures provided by 1st Class Images