Opinion

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British Showjumping (BS) recently implemented a new system whereby every round a horse jumps, including its time, is now shown on its record, rather than just whether it had jumped double clear or been placed, as was the case before.

I can see the pros and cons of this new transparency. It’s great if you’re buying a horse as you can now see whether it jumped two double clears at two shows, or two double clears at 10 shows, having been eliminated at the other eight.

But I’m looking at this from a producer’s point of view. A lot of the time we’re going in to the ring to train the horse for the next level and if a horse makes a mistake, they can learn from it. Now, if we’re not careful, it may encourage people to jump for their horse’s record, which could be detrimental to their production.

Mid-week training

I recently went to a national show where we paid £40 to enter a single-phase Foxhunter class with a first prize of £250. We had entered eight horses in it, all of whom were there to jump a nice double clear — we’re not there to try to win back that £40, unlike the amateur rider who may have that as their target and have to jump accordingly. As professionals, the only profit we make is by producing a horse that is hopefully going to be worth hundreds of thousands. So it would be very short-sighted to think that winning £250 in a Foxhunter one weekend would go anywhere near that.

A better alternative would be if show centres put on mid-week training shows at 1.10m, 1.20m and 1.30m as they do in Holland. With decent course-builders — one key thing lacking at many of our national shows — and videos available of your rounds, I’m sure they’d be very well supported. It would cost less in entry fees and would give your horse experience of jumping at different venues, but without having to add these rounds on your horse’s record.

Pros and cons

So I can see BS’s initiative from both angles. Perhaps we as producers have been able to enjoy the advantages of a certain anonymity for too long. We’ve always been able to see every round on the FEI so it used to be  nice to jump our young horses nationally, off the radar if you like, not worrying about making a mistake — and that’s always been my philosophy — before taking them out on the international circuit. But we’re going to find it difficult to do that now.

Ref Horse & Hound; 8 June 2017