A hot ringside topic and something I have seen for quite a few years now, is the uprising of the young “producer”.

I’m all for championing and encouraging young talent, especially in the ride judging sections, but it is sometimes questionable when it comes to their knowledge and experience.

I’m not alone in the quest to find good trainees and staff. Perhaps it is a generational skip, whereby people instantly want to work for themselves and feel they can avoid working their apprenticeship. There should be no cutting corners with horses. It’s not all down to being a capable rider, it’s acquired general-horsemanship skills that are learned only through watching others and gaining invaluable practical experience. It is also essential to be financially buoyant to afford the necessary insurances, of which there are many, to safeguard yourself, clients’ horses, employees, vehicles and property.

Knowledge of running a business and dealing with clients is also a priority. I do wonder how many actually have these essential requirements, especially considering the low fees some charge. The trend seems to be to become either a producer or a judge in order to somehow gain influence. In my book, respect is gained through your hard work, skill and achievements with the horses, not how connected you think you can become.

However, not only do I fear where people are sending their animals, but also where they are sending their children to be trained, often staying away in school holidays and overnight in lorries at shows unchaperoned. Perhaps it is time the people dealing with children have had the necessary disclosure checks that other carers, teachers and so on are required to have? The showing societies make sure their judges and officials are screened, but what about the unregulated trainers? I realise this is a controversial topic, but one that maybe ought to be visited sooner rather than later.

Beast from the East

We are well into the New Year and it’s been a wet and cold start. While writing this, we are currently experiencing the snowstorm known as “the beast from the east”, which doesn’t make working with horses easy. We did, however, brave the elements and make it out to one show, the British Piebald and Skewbald Association (BSPA) Festival at Keysoe. I was surprised to see so many out so early on. I took a last-season horse but the youngsters on my yard definitely weren’t ready yet.

As usual, the coloured and mountain and moorland classes enjoyed high numbers, as they seem to all year round. Not surprisingly, hacks were thin on the ground, as I can imagine February is not the weather for them to play ball. Joking aside, it was encouraging to see competitors were still enthusiastic, despite risking hypothermia. Well done to BSPA for a well-run show, and we certainly appreciated the on-the-day entries, as it’s so hit and miss at this time of year as to which horses will be ready.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 8 March 2018