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Verdicts are still coming in on whether the first Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) junior ridden mountain and moorland (M&M) championships lived up to expectations.

I have to admit I was initially dubious about the concept; the final was originally announced as a stepping stone for riders aged 10 to 14 years on small breeds, to ensure that their progress wasn’t being stifled by adult riders, but many people believed that it could potentially turn out to be just another M&M first ridden class added to the timetable.

Having watched it, I’m now happy to climb down from the fence and say that it was a great starting point. While I feel the eligibility for this final still needs tweaking, on the day the right combinations were rewarded and the final placings comprised ponies that could easily hold their own in open classes, ridden by junior riders — which is exactly what we hoped for.

It would be brilliant to see a large breed equivalent added next year, albeit without the number of open qualifiers being reduced to accommodate it. The issue of adult riders on small ponies is still a hot topic, as the HOYS warm-up was monitored, but I feel that in many cases it has been blown out of proportion, mainly on social media.

However, I’m worried that the constant scaremongering might be affecting the market for small breeds, especially stallions. It’s never been great compared to large breeds. If you have a good large M&M stallion for sale at an appropriate price, it usually sells straight away, but it seems to be becoming increasingly difficult to move small-breed natives on.

This was definitely apparent at the September Fayre Oaks Sale, traditionally a large and prestigious showcase for selling Welsh section As and Bs. There appeared to be very little interest for ridden or potential ridden stallions, which is a crying shame for breeders.

 

Ride on time

I’ve just returned from a busy weekend competing at a very wet British Show Pony Society (BSPS) Heritage Championships. The weather didn’t dampen competitors’ spirits, and with a host of hotly contested Olympia qualifying rounds and various classes over two days you have to hand it to the BSPS. Its show organisational skills are second to none. If you’re told your class will be at 1.30pm, that’s when it will happen, as reliable as a Red Arrows fly-past.

Party animals

Olympia provides the final big showing date and we’re all looking forward to our “end of term party”. The Olympia atmosphere is unique. Everyone is there to have a good time and it’s incredibly jolly behind the scenes in the stable area.

It’s probably the only show where no one seems to mind about results, although an Olympia championship rosette is extra special. I will forever treasure winning last year’s Blue Chip BSPS Heritage ridden M&M championship on my Fell stallion, Bert (Townend Schubert).

We made the decision then that he wouldn’t return this year, so I will have a new ride in December. Good luck to the 2016 contenders.

Ref Horse & Hound; 27 October 2016