The inevitable rising costs can be a struggle when keeping a show horse on the road, but do we really need to be stung for extra passes at county shows? At Lincolnshire show, two passes were allocated per horse. We already pay hefty entry fees for these shows, not to mention the cost of taking a groom with you and travel costs. It is unacceptable for owners then to pay again just to see their horse compete.

Apparently Royal Cheshire County decided to search horseboxes this year on arrival for sneaky smugglers, which left many people wondering whether a search warrant was required? On a serious note, competitors reported that they were faced with brusque stewards and felt it a huge imposition and invasion of privacy. Some took to social media platforms to voice their discontent.

A competitor getting up at 2am is not thinking about smuggling Joe Public into a show for a day out. The people in these lorries are owners, helpers, grooms, competitors and drivers — all essential people — and the entry fee should cover them.

So the question is this: are spectator numbers down at shows? Is that why the shows are targeting the competitors, to subsidise their shortfalls? We are there providing the public’s entertainment. If we all decided to boycott these shows due to being priced out, just think how much would have to be paid on extra
displays and entertainment.

Competitors at Royal Three Counties not only proved they could produce show horses, but their mounts can now qualify as police horses. The maxi cobs were treated to the King’s Troop’s cannon fire and a dynamic parachute display team spiralling at speed from the air, complete with streams of red smoke. These are not
really things we can replicate and train for at home.

A social distance

I don’t personally participate in Facebook and Twitter, however my wife and clients keep up to date. If used correctly, social media can be a fantastic platform for keeping up to speed with the latest information from shows and societies.

Even though all societies have social media rules, it seems that judges and competitors are not taking them seriously. Perhaps the rule should read: “Judges should not engage in any comments or conversations with competitors about a show or about results, leading up to or after a competition in which they are judging. They certainly should not be seen to be fraternising or socialising with the competitors.”

Continued below…


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When I am judging, I try to keep as much distance from the competitors as possible. I am not naive; I recognise that the horse job is a small world and everyone knows everyone, but it really grates when it is so blatant. It is not OK to post photographs of judges and competitors socialising leading up to and after a show, nor is it OK to discuss that show or results with them afterwards in the public forum.

Apparently there has been a recent flurry of unsavoury comments regarding results on Facebook. This is not the place to air personal vendettas. As a competitor, if you feel there has been a wrongdoing, you need to go through the correct procedures. Contact the appropriate society and lodge a complaint.