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The showing world gathered together recently to mark Joan Lee Smith’s retirement from the board of Ponies (UK), which she founded in 1988, and to show their appreciation for her outstanding contribution to the association.

Under Mrs Lee Smith’s direction and foresight, Ponies (UK) has developed into a vast and successful showing enterprise with more than 6,500 members, which is now led by her daughter Davina Whiteman.

Mrs Lee Smith, who will celebrate her 90th birthday shortly, has established an educational scheme to mark her retirement, inviting donations to the Joan Lee Smith Training Foundation to support further training of judges and trainers, in lieu of birthday presents.

Other initiatives developed by Mrs Lee Smith during her time at the head of pony showing circles include the winter showing circuit, mountain and moorland classes, which have helped ensure the survival of Britain’s native breeds and home-produced classes to encourage amateur showing enthusiasts.

Many organisations beyond the show ring have also benefited from Mrs Lee Smith’s vision and drive. These include the British Horse Society, which awarded her its medal of honour, and the Association of British Riding Schools, which made her its first fellow for her work pioneering its inspection and training programme while being its national chairman. The Women’s Institute also owes her a huge debt of gratitude for her work as county chairman.

Responding to a flood of tributes, Mrs Lee Smith said: “I am confident in the knowledge that I’m leaving the association in the safe hands of another Lee Smith woman who has all the characteristics that have fired me over the years: determination, a strong will, aggression and a reputation for never agreeing.”

For more information on Ponies (UK) visit: www.poniesuk.org