A new championship for junior riders will be held at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) in 2016 to prevent them from being “stifled” by adults.

The junior mountain and moorland (M&M) ridden pony of the year championship will be open to riders aged 10-14.

A spokesman for Grandstand Media, which organises HOYS, said the decision followed a review of the 2014 and 2015 finals.

“It is clear that many of the small breed M&M classes are dominated by senior adult competitors, which is potentially stifling young riders from progressing,” he said.

“Conscious of providing new opportunities to young future stars, HOYS will be introducing this championship in addition to the current M&M classes.”

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Aimed at riders just out of first-ridden classes (pictured, above), it will be open to ponies whose breeding is Welsh section A, Welsh section B, Dartmoor, Exmoor or Shetland.

HOYS’ Richard Todd said the new class opens up another “clear avenue of progression” from lead-rein to adult.

“We are positive this new class will make for an excellent season,” he added.

Qualification queries

There has been speculation that the new series will mean a cut in qualifiers for the open small breeds classes.

Grandstand Media would not comment on whether this is the case or not until they have heard back from all the qualifying venues.

A spokesman added that these are usually finalised by the end of the year.

Anna Richards, a producer and breeder of Welsh section As, often travels for more than two hours to compete in HOYS qualifiers.

“I think it is great that they are going to help the juniors,” she told H&H.

“Having more classes at HOYS gives people more chances to aim for it.”

However, she added that it would be a shame if it came at the cost of cutting classes that have “huge support”, such as small breeds qualifiers.

Miss Richards also questioned why the breeds in the new class were restricted when a number of competitors that age will be riding Welsh section Cs or Connemaras.

The news had a mixed response on social media. HOYS’ post on its Facebook page received more than 90 “likes”.

However, a number asked why large breed M&Ms were not included and why the age limit was 14.

For the class, riders must have had their 10th birthday by the day of the competition, but must not have reached their 14th birthday before 1 January that year.

Combinations may compete in M&M first ridden and the junior M&M ridden qualifiers.

But if they qualify for HOYS in both, the rider must choose which class they want to compete in at the championships.

The pony will keep its qualification for both classes, with an alternative rider who fulfils the criteria able to take the spare HOYS ride.

Details of class rules and qualifiers will be revealed in January.

Judges

HOYS released its judges list for the 2016 championships on 23 November.

However, the judges for both a new junior M&M class and a number of other classes at the Birmingham event are still yet to be confirmed.

For the first time next year, judges of the Cuddy supreme in-hand and the horse and pony supremes will not be revealed until the 2016 show.

A Grandstand Media spokesman told H&H that there would be contingency plans in place should a competitor qualify for the supreme only to then find that they have a connection with the judge.

Ref: H&H 3 December, 2015