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The British Show Horse Association (BSHA) pulled out all the stops at this year’s national championships. It really was an extravaganza. It’s a chance for the open horses to shine before Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and the novices to be showcased. It’s great to have a preview of the potential stars of next season. Amateurs and young riders also have an array of classes with lots of opportunity to go in an evening performance.

From talking with competitors, however, there seems to be a gap for an owners’ class, for people who need to have their horses produced due to heavy work commitments but fancy having a go at the championships. They can’t do the amateur or home-produced, but feel an open class would be a bit too much for them. The calibre of horses would be phenomenal and a real spectacle, and it would give producers a chance to give something back to their owners.

The evening supremes were a treat. The audience was really involved and with three judges doing the scoring with cards out of 10, it was an example of transparent judging at its best. The atmosphere was electric and competitors stopped at nothing in their attempts to wow both the crowd and the judges. It’s a chance to let your hair down before the seriousness of HOYS.

Congratulations to Jordan Cook and Fleetwater Xecutive for the Friday night supreme and a flawless display. Jordan stayed so calm under pressure and you could see the partnership and trust these two have. Fair play to Simon Charlesworth and Fait Acobbli. During the ride-off with Jordan, he stood up on the cob’s back (pictured). You’re a brave man, Simon, because that could have ended differently when the crowd cheered!

A huge congratulations to all the BSHA team that always run the show like clockwork and, of course, it is fabulous to have the fantastic facilities at Addington.

We had a great show with a real sense of achievement — before we won the supreme, our cob was judged by no less than seven different judges that day. You really have to appeal to the masses and keep performing and sparkling from day to night.

A hunter bias?

The new class this year of the ladies’ side-saddle, which now incorporates hacks, cobs and riding horses, as well as hunters, has been a bit hit and miss. I think it has had to run this year as an experiment, to find out if it’s a success or not. The general consensus is that judges do favour the hunters, and the other horses are being overlooked. Competitors were even putting plain “hunter” browbands on riding horses
to “play the game” and have fared better for doing so. But if the others are to be ignored, either take them out or take them seriously.

I understand why the hacks, cobs and riding horses were added, as the ladies’ hunter numbers were dwindling massively and the class was going to die a death, but after having seen the increases in the hunter numbers, it makes me wonder why competitors aren’t dusting their side-saddles off and supporting the class?

Ref: Horse & Hound; 24 September 2015