British showing is to unite under one umbrella organisation in a bid to enhance the profile of the discipline and gain affiliation to the British Equestrian Federation (BEF).

In order to join the BEF, a discipline has to be represented by one organisation, meaning that showing, with its multitude of societies, is ineligible for membership. But the new organisation — the Showing Council — hopes to change all that.

BEF head of equine development Jan Rogers told H&H that the need for representation on a national level spurred the move.

She said: “Showing covers a huge sector of the equine community, but the discipline is under-represented within the BEF. We want to encourage participation in BEF affairs and give the showing societies a voice.”

At present, the Showing Council comprises 15 showing societies (see list below). Each society can send up to two delegates to represent it on the council — there have been four meetings of the delegates since June 2006.

The driving force behind the council has been the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) and director Adrianne Smyth drafted the constitution. She told H&H that membership of the BEF was crucial if showing is to prosper.

“At no other time has there been so much scrutiny and interference from outside,” she said. “Showing people have been taken aback and confused by new rules and regulations, especially those regarding transport. They feel they have no one to turn to, but by joining the BEF that will change.

“At present, the sport is fragmented, but we need to work together to protect showing people. We also want to raise the profile of showing and give it the same recognition as eventing, show jumping, dressage and all the other affiliated sectors.”

Mrs Smyth said that the BSHA has been discussing forming a political wing for showing for the past three years. Although she admitted some societies were wary of the idea at first, consensus had since been achieved.

She explained: “I think some societies were wary about the issue of sovereignty, but the council has no intention of interfering with the way the individual societies are run.”

Mrs Smyth said the council plans to meet four times a year. The 15 societies currently involved are founder members, but other societies can join as long as they attend at least two council meetings. Societies must pay an annual fee of £50 to join.

The Showing Council will be able to apply for BEF membership in 2008. Initially, it will be a BEF associate member, meaning it would have no voting rights, but would be able to attend BEF meetings and receive support and guidance from the federation.

Ms Rogers explained: “Once the council has become an associate member it will be another three years before they can become full members.”

Members of the Showing Council

  • Arab Horse Society
  • British Morgan Horse Society
  • British Miniature Horse Society
  • British Percheron Horse Society
  • British Show Horse Association
  • British Skewbald and Piebald Association
  • British Show Pony Society
  • Coloured Horse and Pony Society
  • Cleveland Bay Horse Society
  • Irish Draught Horse Society (GB)
  • National Pony Society (representing all mountain and moorland societies)
  • Ponies (UK)
  • Sports Horse Breeding of Great Britain
  • Shire Horse Society
  • Side Saddle Association