Leading show riders say they have concerns about a change to the marking system for working hunter classes this year.

Sports Horse Breeding of Great Britain (SHB(GB)) has announced a new scoring structure in which 17% of the final mark given is for the initial go-round, which was not previously marked.

Liz Morley, chairman of the SHB(GB) showing committee, told H&H that the new allocation had been introduced because “it was considered appropriate as working hunters should be seen to go round in ‘company’.”

But working hunter specialist Louise Bell is worried the change has not been properly thought through.

“I feel it is a very odd thing to have changed,” said Louise. “The concern is it will give horses who have a fence down a chance of winning.

“I also feel it is going to need more manpower in the ring to keep an eye on all the horses at all times than they [SHB(GB)] have thought about.”

Other riders were frustrated that SHB(GB) — which recently pushed through a new rule making safety headgear compulsory in all classes (news, 19 December) — had made the rule change without consulting its members.

Ms Morley said the society has not thought it necessary for the change to be put up for public debate and that it had been made to “enhance the competition”.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (30 January, 2014)