A new competition to encourage young showing stewards is being launched by South Essex Insurance Brokers (SEIB). The winners will be invited to steward at October’s Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

“We’ve held a Search for a Star series for unknown riders and horses and one for probationary judges, but we are aware there are very few young stewards coming through,” said Nicolina Mackenzie of SEIB.

“The people who are stewarding have been doing it for years and they are incredible, it’s an art form. But because we run our own classes we have an opportunity to open stewarding up to younger people.”

Over 18s who are interested can apply to SEIB.

Successful applicants will be invited to help steward at SEIB Search for a Star or Racehorse to Riding Horse classes, where they will be judged by SEIB chief steward Di Longland.

Duties will include giving directions, legging up and helping judges. Those who “qualify” at this stage will attend a final at Vale View, Leicestershire, in July.

Two winners will be picked — one to help in the HOYS International Arena and one in the Caldene. They will get free travel, accommodation and meals and will each be awarded six tickets for the Wednesday of the show.

The aim is to attract young people who had perhaps not thought about stewarding before, or who have done some stewarding and would like to do more.

“They don’t need much experience, but must want to learn and be prepared to muck in,” said Ms Mackenzie. “It will be hard work, but good fun and is a fantastic opportunity for them.”

Collecting ring steward Tim Price has worked at HOYS for 21 years.

“It’s a very good idea as we are short of young show stewards,” he said. “It would be fantastic if someone could come out of the woodwork.

“The problem is young stewards can’t afford to have the time off [from their jobs].”

The organisers hope the competition will be well received — similar to the HOYS and British Open search for a new commentator, run by Grandstand, which attracted 88 entries.

For more information, visit www.search4astar.org.uk

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (4 March, ’10)