Opinion

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We’ve certainly experienced one extreme to the other with the weather recently, with blistering heat and then monsoons. Unfortunately, Royal Norfolk took a battering with the weather but the efforts to continue where admirable. On arrival there were five tractors ready to assist with towing vehicles on.

Spirits were high from most competitors and when the lorry park became very difficult in the mud, vehicles were parked on surrounding roads. Every effort was made for the show to continue, so I was saddened to hear of people complaining about having to walk a fair distance to the rings. Surely that is a small price to pay — what else could the show have done?

It is your choice whether to compete and the rings held up well; it was only the lorry park that was affected by the rain.

Spread out the qualifiers

June has been a marathon with the amount of shows on.

I wish organisers would converse with each other and plan these dates with a bit more thought for the competitor. I know of one producer that did nine days of showing on the trot.

Surely these qualifiers should be spread out to give a fair chance of horses competing without being dragged to all ends of the country in a week? I think this is why numbers are down in some of the classes. For instance there are only 15 Horse of the Year Show maxi cob qualifiers, yet we had four in the space of a week or five in the space of 10 days.

It’s just not physically possible to do all these shows. I’m determined, though, not to over-run my horses and, frustratingly, I’ve left some at home, potentially at the expense of a qualifying ticket, but they needed a break.

The current marks system stifles flair

I am increasingly perturbed by the rule in coloured classes that it’s the judges’ choice whether or not they decide to do a “pull-in” after the go-round. What on earth is the point in the go-round?

Especially at these county shows, horses should be capable of coping in a large group of horses in a busy ring. You so often see horses misbehaving in a group go-round, only to be pulled in in any order and give the judge a quieter ride, thus gaining a high place.

It’s very frustrating for fellow competitors. Unfortunately, though, with the marks system as it stands, the all important go-round, final walk-round, star quality and manners standing in line are inconsequential. These marks really do need to be scrapped.

Yet on the flip side, the individual performances are so scrutinised for manners and required movements that any slight mistake is highly criticised and the overall showmanship and flair are lost in the constraints of a mark.

I’d like to see riders taking more risks and trying to win the class, not riding guardedly for fear of a mistake. We are in danger of showing becoming rigid, restricted and boring to watch.

Ref Horse & Hound; 13 July 2017