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Ponies UK is introducing a new training scheme designed to recognise the skills of show riders. In the long term, the society hopes the initiative will establish a group of elite competitors, who have the necessary knowledge to become P(UK) trainers and judges.

Training days will be held around the country to help P(UK) members improve their horsemanship skills, with achievements acknowledged through a series of skill attainment levels. The most talented riders at each training day will be selected to compete in the Shires Equestrian / Ponies (UK) Showman’s Challenge at the Summer Championships.

The scheme is believed to be the first formal training scheme available to showing riders, and training bursaries worth £250, courtesy of Shires Equestrian, will be awarded to the showing (ridden flat) and working hunter (ridden flat and jumping) Showman’s Challenge supreme winners.

In a statement the society said: “[Dressage, show jumping and eventing] have training schemes in place to foster and acknowledge talent and training achievements. Until now, the skill of the show rider has not been acknowledged and no formal training schemes to improve the skill levels of the individual has been in place.”

The training days will include both mounted and unmounted instruction to encourage show riders to progress through a sequence of skill levels to achieve the highest levels of horsemanship. The highest levels of the scheme — bronze, silver and gold — will only be awarded to individuals who are capable of preparing riders, horses and ponies for the show ring.

Riders taking part in the scheme will be split into two specialities: showing for those wishing to ride only of the flat and working hunter for riders who wish to compete on the flat and over fences. The skill attainment levels will work in parallel across both options.

Five training days have been confirmed, although further days may be organised subject to interest. They will take place on:

  • 30 April at Moores Farm, Corse Lawn, Gloucestershire
  • 14 May at Drumacre Stud, Longton, Lancashire
  • 22 May at Faraway RC, Aberdeen
  • 26 May at Sissons Farm EC, Peakirk, Peterborough
  • 3 June at Newton Hall EC, Swilland, Ipswich

Riders who are invited to take part in the Shires Equestrian / P(UK) Showman Final will parade during the evening gala performance at the Summer Championships on Saturday 20 August, during which the bursary winners and the 2005 Shires Equestrian / P(UK) Showman of the Year will be announced.

For more details about the scheme visit: www.poniesuk.org