There was something a bit special going on in the equestrian judging at the Wanaka A&P Show.

Three generations of one family were officiating in the ring, led by family matriarch, the remarkable Catherine Bell (81), of Southland.

Bell has had a lifetime involvement with horses and ponies and that interest has been passed on to her daughter Dawn Kennedy, who is in her 60s, and grand-daughter Georgina Bell (22).

All three were at Wanaka, kept busy with various judging duties.


Catherine Bell has officiated at shows throughout New Zealand and Australia.

It was about 1955 that her pony first competed at the Wanaka Show, brought along by her mother as she was at boarding school and a borrowed rider was found.

When the family used to compete at Wanaka, they would bring a truckload of nine ponies to the show.

That was "just part of everyday life" for Bell, who lives near Invercargill.

She was judging the park hack and riding pony classes at Wanaka, while Kennedy was doing the lead rein and round-the ring judging, and Georgina (22) was judging riding horses and first ridden. Georgina's sister Sarah Bell was also riding at the show.

Kennedy said she grew up among ponies - "that was our life" - and there was always some equine event to go to.

She agreed her very sprightly mother was an inspiration, saying if she wasn't, they probably would not be doing what they were doing.

Bell had helped hundreds of children over the years and was the Royal Agricultural Society's judging convener for southern districts for 15 years, running workshops for people who wanted to be judges.


Georgina had given up riding momentarily while she got her judging accreditation done but she recently bought a young horse which she was looking forward to campaigning.

All three women were immaculately turned out for their judging duties, something they believed was important given the effort the competitors put in to their own turnout.