After what the British Show Pony Society chairman Jim McTiffin called “healthy debate” at the 55th AGM, it seems likely the council will seek an amendment to the constitution to allow associate horse classes to continue.
The unprecedented move follows a point raised by Chris Willett, a horse panel judge and show pony producer with a 10-year-old competing daughter.
“I’m looking at each side of the fence and firmly believe that this society is for children and ponies. Once members reach 21, we should work with other societies for transitional classes such as intermediates; and when members are 25, they should move on to horses and out of the BSPS as ridden competitors,” he said.
This took officials by surprise because the feedback sought through area AGMs had shown overwhelming support of running horse classes.
There were strong feelings among attendees at the AGM, held at the Moat House, Stoke. Many wanted to keep families showing together and thought horse classes bridged the gap, as well as providing a safeguard period for working towards other societies.
In addition, some highlighted tall children having to move on to horses early, while others pointed out the all-important revenue horse classes bring in.
There was no suggestion that horse classes would squeeze out ponies, and there was great applause when the council remained adamant that the move to include horse classes “was done for the members, through the members at area level”.
BSPS vice-chairman Nigel Hollings pointed out: “All the society has done was give members more opportunities.”
BSPS chief executive Joy Hall added that the BSPS had worked with other societies in the past but without success. It was also noted that, while the Pony Club recently raised the age of its membership to 25, the British Show Hack, Cob and Riding Horse Association still had a lower age limit of 15 years.
However, Chris Willett stood by his comments, saying: “We’re a pony society and I feel we’re treading on the toes of other societies.”