Heavy Horse Show


By Alyson Orme, Edinburgh Napier University Student who carried out a placement within the Learning and Programmes department in 2013

Since February I have been working on the public events at National Museums Scotland as part of my Events Management university placement. Based in the Learning and Programmes department, I have been working on large scale events at the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight and the National Museum of Rural Life. Each event has a different theme, from Wartime Experience to Robots Live, so it is no surprise that I have had a very interesting experience!

The first big event that I was involved in was Wartime Experience at the National Museum of Flight in May. This gave me an insight into the wonderful world of wartime re-enactment. I also made my career debut as a model for the press activity for Wartime Experience  and it ended up in the newspaper!

Alyson Orme modelling 1940s fashion for Wartime Experience, National Museum of Flight on Sunday 12 May 2013

Alyson Orme (far right) modelling 1940s fashion for Wartime Experience, National Museum of Flight on Sunday 12 May 2013.

The next big event was Robots Live in June. I was excited to see some battles in the Robot Wars arena and have a go at riding a Segway scooter.  I also discovered that I am more scared of a robot dinosaur than most small children. It was a really good and sunny day and I enjoyed seeing the end product of something that I had been involved in from start to finish.

Tyrone the animatronic T.rex performing at Robots Live, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune

Tyrone the animatronic T.rex performing at Robots Live, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune.

In July I became an equestrian expert at the Heavy Horse Show at the National Museum of Rural Life. My job was getting the right horses to the arena on time. This proved difficult at first, but by the end of the day the horses and I were on first name terms. As well as the public events at different sites, I have also enjoyed working at the RBS Museum Lates. I was involved in the Viking Lates in February and the Dino-Night in May. I loved working at the RBS Lates and seeing everyone’s themed costumes.  I also took full advantage of the many opportunities for animal handling at the RBS Lates during my placement.

Alyson Orme with a handling a hedgehog at a National  Museums Scotland event.

Alyson holding a hedgehog at an animal handling session event.

I have had the best time at the National Museums Scotland and met lots of great people who have made my placement really fun and interesting.  I don’t think anywhere else could have offered me the opportunity to work with so many crazy themes, meet people from all walks of life or hold so many small animals. I will be going back to University with lots of events management experience, obscure general knowledge facts and great memories.

Claire Arnet with taking part in a donkey class competitionA guest post by Claire Arnet, who showed her donkeys Baxter and Jools at the Heavy Horse Show, National Museum of Rural Life, East Kilbride.

I have been showing my two donkeys at the Heavy Horse Show, National Museum of Rural Life for several years.

Baxter is 13 years old and I have had him since he was two years old. He is a star of stage (Edinburgh Playhouse in Carmen) and screen (BBC’s Landward) as well as a winner both in hand and in driving competitions. Most of all he is a great character.

Jools is three years old and was bought at weaning when she was 6 months old. She has grown from a scruffy wee ball of fluff to a quite elegant  youngster. Jools has also been successful in the show ring including winning at the Heavy Horse Show for the past two years.

Baxter and Jools the donkeys enjoying some downtime on the beach

Baxter and Jools the donkeys enjoying some downtime on the beach

The first donkey class at the Heavy Horse Show is the Condition and Turnout class. The judge is looking for the animal in the best health, not too fat or too thin, with a good shiny coat and bright eyes. The donkeys and their bridles are checked to see if they are clean. The handler should also be of smart appearance. If you have an older donkey or one who does not have the best conformation this is the class where hard work can really pay off.

The other inhand classes are split by sex and age. The judge looks for the donkey nearest the breed standard, no knock knees or sinky backs.  The donkey must also move well. It is a beauty contest. The winners then compete against each other to determine the Champion and Reserve Champion Donkey.

Claire Arnet's donkeys take part in the Private Driving class at the Kittochside Heavy Horse Show.

Claire Arnet’s donkeys take part in the Private Driving class at the Kittochside Heavy Horse Show.

The driving classes are split into Private Driving and Cones. In Private Driving the judge looks for the suitability of the carriage in style and size for the donkey and the fit of the harness. The donkeys are then asked to perform a small show. They usually trot a figure of 8, halt and do a short rein back (reverse for 3 or 4 steps). Again the judge is looking for an animal that moves well.

The cones require the donkey turnout to drive through a course of paired cones in the fastest time. Penalties are added for knocking the cones when the ball on top is dislodged. Style and grace are unimportant although the driver still needs to be in control.

Donkeys Baxter and Jools at National Museum of Rural Life in 2012.

Donkeys, Baxter and Jools at National Museum of Rural Life in 2012.

Donkeys grow a winter coat of about 4 inches long and do not come into their summer coats until July. The winter coat starts to grow in again by August! In order to prepare for  driving I clip Baxter in late March & then rug him. I usually strip Jools’ coat with various combs & brushes but this year due to the poor spring I have had to resort to clipping.My donkeys do not like baths so I keep these to an absolute minimum. They get a good brush and polish on the day & their hooves are coated with hoof oil to make them nice and shiny.