We continue our look at the future of the show circuit – young handlers! With the 2021 show season once again falling foul of Covid-19, and most summer shows once again not taking place, we’ve asked the individual show societies to nominate a young handler or two, for us to speak to, and get their outlook on shows, and the wider industry. After all, they are the future.

Read more: Young Handlers of the Future – Emily Smith and Lucy Shepherd

Running in a similar order to the show calendar, we’re looking forward to hearing what the next generation has to say...

Kinross Show

Blythe Duncan (13)

Where do you and your family come from?

We don't come from a farm but we do own a few stables which are located locally, in Kingskettle.

How did you get into showing livestock?

It was my grandad, Benny Duncan, that encouraged me to get into showing Clydesdale horses and it is through him that my interest grew. I began showing around 2018 and have always had a passion for working with the horses, as I have grown up around them my whole life. Getting involved in the young handlers side of the showing was also something different, which I am enjoying thoroughly.

What is your favourite type of stock to show and why?

Definitely Clydesdale horses, however I have also shown Shetland ponies in the past. I do like the Clydesdale's as they are bigger and I find them easier to show.

Do you have a favourite animal that you’re close to/like showing the most? If so, why?

One of our horses, Star, has been a favourite of mine but he is now in retirement, so my go-to show horse is now 13-year-old Davey. I like him because he is listens to me, remains well behaved and doesn't need persuading to be shown correctly.

What was the first show you went to?

It would be the North South Foal Show, where I took part in the young handlers competition with Star.

What’s the first show you have attended this year?

It would be the Royal Highland Showcase – it was the first in-person show I have competed at this year, having previously taken part in various online shows throughout the summer and lockdown.

What is your favourite show to go to?

The Royal Highland Show as there are a lot of animals on parade and there's always something going on. There's also more competitors at the show and it's an opportunity for me to see my friends that live in England, as I only get to see them at the bigger events.

What is your favourite thing about showing?

I just love getting into the ring and competing. If I'm in a bigger class then I've got less of a chance but if I make a mistake then I am able to learn from it and pick up tips and tricks from other competitors too.

What has been the biggest success of your show career so far?

Winning the Highland Showcase – I was placed first in the young handler class with Davey. I was really delighted with the result as the judge said it was a tough decision, so to come out on top showing at the Highland for the first time was a huge achievement for me!

Is there anything you don’t like about showing?

Not really, I love everything about it so far!

Have you had any disappointments, yet?

I wouldn't say that I have had any disappointments – everything is a learning curve. I competed in the ridden class with Geordie at Kinross Show, this year, where I didn't place as I wasn't cantering. I didn't have big expectations as I competed more for experience.

Who would you say you look up to in the showing world?

I would have to be my grandad. He always watches me compete in the young handler classes at any show watches and gives me good advice on how I can improve – he is my official coach!

What is the best bit of advice that sticks in your mind?

My grandad has always reminded me that when I'm showing, I've always to try and walk towards the judge. If I stay on same side as the judge, this will help the horse walk straight towards the judge too.

He also told me to focus on a point on a wall or a person to look straight at, which also helps with moving in a straight line.

How do you spend your spare time?

A lot of my spare time is spent with the horses, but I also play my bagpipes on a Wednesday. I play as pat of the Cuper and District Pipe Band, where they come to our horse yard to practice. I have been playing the bagpipes for two years, mainly encouraged by my uncle who also used to play. He very kindly gifted me his own set of bagpipes before he passed away a few years ago.

What are your plans for the future just now? Does it feature agriculture?

I would love to be a horse riding teacher in the future, or just something to do with horses!

Do you have any advice for other young people trying to get in to showing?

Just smile and put as much effort into it as you can – practice makes perfect and you can't always be the winner, so learn from your mistakes. In regards to showing Clydesdales, just be confident with your horse. Get to know it and you'll develop a bond, which makes it easier to show.