Team Homer enjoyed a busy week at the Royal International (RIHS) and New Forest shows, with a number of wins and championships to celebrate.
Of course you can’t win everything and, while it was amazing that Alice and Hightopps Jazz finished 2nd in the 122cm SHP class at RIHS, I was disappointed with how the class was run. The 3 other SHP classes were held in ring 5 and had a set structure. All ponies came into the centre to be sent out in 4s to gallop. Then they all walked round for the final call in. This gave the gallop a good emphasis in a great galloping ring.
The 122 class is held on the River Lawn (pictured), which is a more difficult ring to show off natural paces and the judges left out the galloping in 4s. One pony got strong during the canter on the left rein, causing the lass to pull up and then the judges immediately started pulling the riders in. It looked a complete mess from the outside and gave the children who had been watching the class format in the morning, no chance to use their ringcraft.
The show then was set with a gallop along the short side at the bottom of the River Lawn, rather than the nice stretch up the hill and along the top. I will never know if this did affect the result of the class, but when there is a strong emphasis on a show hunter pony to gallop, it’s not right to take the pace out for one height section.
At New Forest the next day, the 122cm class had a great emphasis on the gallop, which really sorted the men from the boys! While on the topic of the New Forest, I think the hack judge did a great job in the heat. She let the horses take her for a ride in a very buzzy ring, whilst giving them stability to cope with the distractions. So well done that lady.
Returning to RIHS, there was a lot of chat about the working hunter pony (WHP) course after it caused a fair amount of trouble. It raises once again the question: are the qualifiers difficult enough? I am certain this will be raised after HOYS too, but my own thoughts are that working hunter is not meant to be a showjumping competition. I am concerned the jump from nursery stakes to open 133 WHP is too big. This risks putting many children off and makes the task of finding an open 133 WHP increasingly difficult for parents.
With NPS following straight on after these busy shows, it always amazes me how many people are there, and with Bakewell and Ponies(UK) the same week, it makes me realise how many people are showing. This sport is massive and needs to be preserved by keeping standards high and insisting that integrity is of the upmost important. Masses of money is being poured into the sport for people to enjoy, so it must be transparent and allow competitors to see how results are arrived at.
I was surprised how many people did late entries for the HOYS classes at NPS at what I thought was an extortionate price. Perhaps HOYS organisers Grandstand Media could work with the show organisers to put a cap on late entry fees, which would also encourage late entries?
It’s always useful to know the pre-entry numbers, while accepting that late entries can change things dramatically, but some show secretaries have become increasingly helpful in many ways, including by posting class numbers on websites. I was disappointed when I sent a polite email to a show secretary this week asking for entry numbers, to receive a reply saying “Sorry NO”.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the many shows who are now posting marks sheets or emailing them on request. Although I won’t be asking the afore mentioned secretary to send me mine!