The Ponies Association (UK) Summer Championships will move from its traditional home in Peterborough to the Newark & Notts showground, P(UK) Chairman Davina Whiteman announced earlier this the week.
The Equestrian Holiday, as the show is also known, has taken place at the East of England Showground in Peterborough since Glenda Spooner launched it in 1960, when P(UK) was still Ponies of Britain.
“The Equestrian Holiday is beginning to develop a soul and we need to build on that,” says Whiteman. “In recent years, we have noticed that friends could not always park together [at the Peterborough venue] and that our members were often stretched through ring, stable and parking locations. The ground conditions and stabling on soft wet ground was also proving to be detrimental to both the competition and the ponies.”
Financial considerations also played a part in the decision to move, due to rising costs levied by the East of England Agricultural Society.
“Davina said at the AGM back in 2002 that we couldn’t continue facing the escalating costs at East of England,” says P(UK) spokeswoman Betsy Branyan. “Financially we can’t afford it and put on the same show that our members expect.”
Moving to Newark will allow P(UK) to “re-invent the spirit” of the show and take it forward. The association is looking at innovative ways to display animals and products in the showground.
“I can’t say it’s confirmed but we are looking at ways of putting technology in, such as video screens,” explains Branyan. “Hopefully, we are going to open it up to trade stands too, so they can use technology to display larger items which they don’t want to bring to the show.”
Plans to launch a radio station on site are also afoot to help competitors access the latest details on the judging process in each ring. “It will be limited to the showground area, but anyone can tune in and find out what’s happening in a ring without having to go there and [without] the PA system going on all the time,” says Branyan. “It will help reduce noise.”
The fundamental principles of the show, however, will remain the same. “The Association’s mission to promote the management, welfare, selective breeding, care and training of horses and ponies will continue to be a priority,” according to P(UK), which promised that the Equestrian Holiday will continue to have a large range of different competitions and will retain its popular free entry classes.
“The new venue at Newark will provide hard standing for the stables and the majority of parking and our showground layout will certainly create a real heart to the show,” says Whiteman.
Whiteman, however, recognises that “the East of England Showground proved to be an invaluable stepping stone towards our goal of creating the perfect show,” and reveals she had some regret at ending the P(UK) association with the Peterborough venue, because the move will be blow to the local economy. But, she says, “our members and their ponies are always at the forefront of our considerations”.
“Obviously we have some regret at moving away, but times move on,” explains Branyan. “We are just trying to put the heart back into the show. We are excited about it. We are doing this as a positive move.”
The P(UK) Summer Championship Show will take place from 16 to 20 August at Newark and Notts Showground.