Rules governing some of showing’s most contentious aspects have been changed by the British Show Pony Society (BSPS), in a continuing effort to ensure fair play.

The society’s “home-produced” classes, which run under the Pretty Polly banner, have drawn many complaints of infiltration by professional influences, contrary tothe intended aim of the competition.

BSPS members at the annual meeting heard that, from this season, these classes have been renamed “family-produced” and animals must be owned, produced and ridden by members of the immediate family only.

This is defined as: rider’s mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, brothers, sisters or step-relations. In addition, owners must not have any ponies or horses produced by people outside the immediate family and riders must not ride animals produced by professional producers, trainers or grooms, except in a championship.

An animal must not have been in a professional yard since 1 March in the current year.

Commenting on the changes, Horse & Hound columnist Stuart Hollings said: “People complain that there are too many rules, but it is a sad fact that every time one new rule is introduced, we then need four or five more just to back it up.

“It’s a great shame that people don’t enter into the spirit of a competition, rather than becoming obsessed with trying to find loopholes in the rules.”

Tony Asplin, BSPS vice chairman, said: “Judges may have to decide whether to put their business interests first or remain on the judging panel. The society does not owe judges a living.”

Marking has been another area of concern and recording procedures have been tightened. Marks must be written, in ink, immediately after each pony’s show, jumping round and conformation phase and may not be altered except in extreme cases, when the judge must sign the mark sheet.

Recent articles in the press concerning disciplinary action also came under fire in the judges’ conference. Statements from the floor prompted deputy chairman Alan Hall to comment:

“Thereseems to be a feeling that an element of cheating by certain people was implied, but as far as the BSPS is concerned, the judges were reprimanded for not following the rules as laid down in the rulebook.”

In answer to a comment on the large number of apparently overheight animals being shown, and the way in which the problem is being tackled by the Joint Measurement Board, chairman Jim McTiffin said: “We always recommend that people have a pony remeasured before they buy, whether or not it has a life height certificate.

“We are aiming at quality control, so we endeavour to catch as many people as we can who are not playing fair.”

  • New president for BSPS

    Robert Oliver has become the new president of BSPS, taking over from Joan Gibson, a council member for more than 40 years and chairman from 1977 to 1997.

    “It is a great honour to be called upon to replace her, and I am looking forward to my time as president,” said Robert, already a popular BSPS judge and lecturer.

    Read the full story in this week’s Horse & Hound (27 February 2003), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.