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Showing took an innovative step forward when the British Show Horse Association held its first Grass Roots Show at Addington Manor EC, Bucks last Saturday (17 April).

The show ran a mix of classes for novice and home-produced horses and special training classes for amateur riders wanting advice. It was the inspiration of BSHA board member Jo Jenkins.

“It started with conversations in the collecting rings,” explained Jo, who regularly competes cobs, hunters and riding horses at top level. “People were just missing out on the places they wanted and I wondered how we could help.”

In the training classes, riders of hacks, cobs, riding horses and coloured horses performed before Charles Le Moignan (ride) and Ali Fernyhough (conformation.) As each horse was ridden and assessed, the judges commented on their findings over the sound system, so both competitors and spectators benefited.

More advice came from fellow panel judge Simon Somers, who discussed tack and turnout with riders before they entered the ring.

“It was fantastic,” said 19-year-old Harriet Scriven, who won the hack section on Whalton Pinball Wizard. “They were really encouraging and doing this has helped me grow in confidence — I was able to relax and enjoy it.”

Harriet has been competing the eight-year-old in intermediates, but admitted that moving up to compete alongside the professionals in hack classes was nerve-racking.

Novice classes were restricted to horses which have not won a prize of £25 or more, or more than a total of £100 in affiliated showing classes before January 2010. Both professional and amateur riders were eligible to enter.

Producer Carol Bardo, whose four-year-old Saatchi was piloted by Jayne Webber to win the novice hack section and overall novice championship for hacks, cobs and riding horses, praised the concept and the venue.

“It’s a brilliant idea and a brilliant venue for youngsters — lots of space, great surfaces and plenty of room for working in — all organised by people who are respected, helpful and positive,” she said.

Afterwards, Jo Jenkins confirmed that there would be more grass roots shows. “This is definitely not a one-off,” she said.

Read Horse & Hound full report on this innovative new show, on sale 29 April