Two show horses at October’s Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), including riding horse of the year Captain Hastings, have “measured out” (been found to be too tall for the class in which they compete) but there is no clear view on what should be done about it.

As HOYS finalists, the horses were automatically measured in December by stewards from the Joint Measuring Board (JMB). In addition to Captain Hastings, Sadie Pickup’s Hamptonne Prince Of Tides, who finished reserve in the intermediate show riding type class, also measured out. But Prince Of Tides has since been retired, a decision made before the measurement failure.

Captain Hastings, who took the HOYS championship after winning the small riding horse class, was found to be 2.5cm over the 15.2hh class limit. If the gelding had entered the large riding horse class, he would still have won the championship.

Captain Hastings’s producer, Allister Hood, told H&H he has objected to the result of the measurement. He said: “We’ve appealed and I hope we will get him remeasured very shortly.”

Mr Hood added that he had never had the gelding measured because he had a full measurement certificate, which used to be known as a life height certificate. Measurement certificates are issued by the JMB.

The JMB’s Howard Robinson would neither confirm nor deny that Captain Hastings will be remeasured. He said possession of a full certificate does not guarantee that a horse or pony would be the same height all their life.

“A useful analogy is a life prison sentence,” he said. “Life doesn’t mean life and the full certificate is the same — the animal’s height isn’t set in stone.”

But this view does not sit well with HOYS director Mark Wein. Until contacted by H&H, Mr Wein was unaware that Captain Hastings has measured out. He said HOYS would resist moves to withdraw the championship from the horse on the basis of an invalid height certificate.

He said: “If a competitor comes to HOYS with a valid height certificate, how can we then turn around and say that the certificate is invalid?”

For a championship to be withdrawn, HOYS must liaise with the governing body for that particular class. In the case of Captain Hastings, this would be the British Show Horse Association. The chairman of the association was unavailable for comment.

  • This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (18 January, ’07)