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There is a saying that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

We are currently enjoying some downtime in the sun. It’s so important to take a break and recharge your batteries. I believe the show horses should have the same privilege — but don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t involve a plane ticket. Most of the older horses have either gone home or are enjoying some hunting, while the youngsters are in and learning the job.

I’m not a fan of the seasoned horses being up and rugged and in full work doing the same old things. Yes, it’s good to have a focus and your eye on the prize, but there’s no point in running the race before it’s started — there’s a long season ahead.

I like this time of year, because it gives me the opportunity to find new faces, whether it be in sales or looking over hedges. We’re forever searching for that elusive diamond, more often than not in the rough. For every one star there are a lot of “missers”.

There’s nothing more disappointing than being told about a potential superstar, only to discover it has a curb you could mount up on or a front leg the shape of a banana. Sometimes I have a sense of humour failure, but it’s the thrill of the chase that keeps me going. We’ve looked back at some howlers and, although not funny at the time, they are fairly amusing after the event.

I was once told a horse nicknamed LB — who had more conformation faults then I’ve ever seen in one horse before — stood for Little B*****d, which the owner only told me in a huff as I was leaving.

A new playing field

I am really pleased to say that the British Show Horse Association (BHSA) is putting on an owners’ class at its southern and northern spring shows, plus Addington two-day spring show and North of England summer show. There will also be a class at the national championships.

The series is sponsored by Victoria Buckland, who owns my maxi cob Cobswallop, and championed by BSHA board member Lucy Carvall. It has come about due to the demand of owners with horses in production wishing to compete, and something I have mentioned in previous H&H columns (27 September 2016 and 28 September 2015).

Many owners have horses in production, quite often due to work or family commitments, and so cannot compete under amateur rules but feel slightly over-faced in opens. It’s wonderful that we have an association that listens to its members, and this new class needs to be supported.

If we don’t use it, we’ll lose it.

Ref Horse & Hound; 8 December 2016