Riders who are deemed to be of an unsuitable weight for their mounts could be asked to dismount at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) – and the vet’s decision will be final.
Competitors qualified for HOYS (5-9 October) have been informed that their suitability will be assessed at the show.
A spokesman for organisers Grandstand Media said “equine welfare is of paramount importance”, hence the decision to assess riders this year.
The move follows a push from across the equestrian industry to ensure horses’ welfare is not compromised by the weight of those riding them.
A Grandstand spokesman said: “All riders must at all times be of an appropriate size and weight for the horse/pony being ridden.”
This includes horses and ponies being warmed up or exercised anywhere at HOYS, including exercise areas, collecting rings and vehicle parks, at any time of day or night.
The spokesman added that HOYS reserves the right to “take further action” against any exhibitor or professional producer who “permits any person (including an exhibitor and/or professional producer) to ride a horse or pony when the size and/or weight of the rider compromises the welfare of the horse/pony being ridden”.
The welfare issue will be determined by the HOYS veterinary team.
“This will include vets, stewards and officials having the authority to require the rider to dismount to enable a member of the on-site veterinary team to determine whether or not in the opinion of the vet, the rider is of an appropriate size and weight for the horse/pony,” the spokesman added.
“The decision of the vet shall be final.”
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H&H reported in August that riders deemed of an unsuitable weight at the Great Yorkshire Show were asked to dismount.
It has also emerged that member bodies from across the industry are working together on the issue, and that the Animal Health Trust has proposed research into the ideal rider to horse weight ratio.