Opinion

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Well, the new season is upon us. It doesn’t seem like two minutes since the last one finished. I always look forward to seeing new combinations and how last year’s horses have altered.

We are busy, as I’m sure everyone is, preparing for the forthcoming season. It’s that time of year where we are looking at show dates and where to place each horse. We look at quiet venues and ride judges who will give a youngster the best introduction to the job.

First season novices can be challenging but also the most rewarding. With luck the horses we have been busy preparing over the winter will be ready, but you have to be realistic that some take longer than others. I have to say I am grateful for the shows allowing entries on the day. This certainly helps, as would a crystal ball or employing Mystic Meg.

Having measured some horses this year, I’m pleased to report that the new paperless Joint Measurement Board (JMB) system seems to be working well. It is much simpler and quicker, with results going online within a few days of the measuring appointment.

It’s a much more transparent system which is accessible to all — including shows if there is ever a discrepancy, plus societies for checking registrations and also competitors.

Safety vs tradition

There has been much controversy over the new hat standards that are to be enforced this year. I am all for safety, but should this be at the expense of tradition?

I still think adults should have the freedom of choice with the option of a disclaimer, but I accept for insurance purposes at certain shows why chinstraps are enforced, and also for the safety of the children.

The new showjumping-style hats could become yard trademarks — almost team colours — as browbands and jackets have become.

The hat should not detract for the wrong reasons though, and must complement the overall picture of the horse and jockey. I can understand the use of the showjumping-style helmets as they are a neater shape. I ride in one on a day-to-day basis. It conforms to all the current standards and if the manufacturers covered them in velvet and with a flesh-coloured harness, they would sell more.

Why do the current velvet showing-style hats have to be so bulky and high domed? People must be worried about spending their money buying a new hat, only to have the standards change the following year making it defunct.

RIP Sue Webb

Finally, I was very sad to hear of the loss of Sue Webb. It was a real shock and she will be greatly missed by all of us. Sue was a proper hunting woman and loved life. She was always helpful and on hand to give practical advice, and full of praise when it was deserved.

Ref Horse & Hound; 23 March 2017