“Bridging” classes for riders between the ages of 17 and 25 — too old for ponies but perhaps not yet equipped for adult competition — were first introduced by the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) as far back as 1979. Several tweaks later, the intermediate concept really took off in 1990 and, now, is often the largest section at a show.

PROS:

  • Intermediate classes are a well-conceived idea as a stepping stone to adult showing
  • They allow families with children of various ages to show at the same show on the same day
  • They have created a fresh market for animals up to 158cm and this can only be good for breeders
  • They allow young riders to compete against their peers and hone their skills in a familiar environment
  • They get young riders on to bigger animals and should advance their riding, hopefully moving them towards adult classes

CONS:

  • Too many classes won by ponies
  • The shows in the classes are looking more and more like a scene from Strictly Come Dancing
  • Too many young adults wearing too much make-up and big hair — think more Chanel and less Topshop!
  • As there is no ride judge, some riders do not go forward with their own education and therefore their animals do not progress with the quality of the ride
  • Difficult to get a type as so many varied animals take part. The fanaticism about manners means many animals are robotic and riders afraid to take a risk

For the full showing debate about intermediate horses, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (17 March, 2011)