Preparing for Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) is a bit like preparing for Christmas in our house — the old saying about it being rubbish for women and turkeys springs to mind… Alice is very excited and I am very stressed. I keep telling myself I must not make myself ill pre-HOYS like I have most recent years. Timetables and lists have been written endless times.
HOYS is a magical place when it goes well, and expectations are so different for so many various competitors. Some are just glad to be there; some are desperate to win. We sit somewhere in the middle of that with the horses and ponies we have to take this year. The majority are there for the first time and are young, but I know when I’m there the competitive edge will kick in.
The trips to indoor arenas are done now, with pre-HOYS show and clinics to prepare or simply to hire an indoor arena. The horses’ coats at this stage are looking great. Let’s hope the weather stays mild.
I do find sorting our staff for this show a massive headache. We never really have to think about this at any other show, but HOYS becomes so expensive. You have to pay £75 for each groom you take per day just to get them in, before they are paid any wages. The three allocated tickets per horse are normally taken up by the owners and, if you are lucky, one for the rider. It is hard as a producer to pass on the real costs of exhibiting at HOYS to the owner if you add it up to every penny. I am certain all producers will feel they subsidise this show in some way.
After the work is done, the atmosphere is fabulous — hopefully everyone will get to enjoy a drink and watch some of their favourite performances. I always like the dressage displays, with experts on the microphone, and I look forward to watching The Showing Register Master Class, too, with Jo Bates and Mathew Lawrence.
I have felt a little sorry for the couple of competitors in the SEIB Search for a Star who have also qualified for an open class, as they have been made to choose which class they wish to do. After all, they’ve paid the levies. Could the relevant open class not have been held after the Search for a Star class? Then it would not make any difference and would give no advantage. It feels like they are being excluded for being too good.
The La Liga points have made interesting reading, with winners coming from various avenues. The winner of each section is a horse or pony who has had an outstanding winning season — or one that has been to every show and qualified late or not at all. If I were awarding points, I would give more for a win. There has been much discussion on whether the winner should get a wild card entry if not qualified already. I can’t make my mind up on this one — unusual for me!
I hope everyone has a great HOYS and you all manage to find just a little bit of magic. Alice has practised her gallop down the centre line, waving to the crowd, and, above all, I hope she gets the chance to do it.