A new series starts this month to help introduce young riders to affiliated show jumping.

In March, mothers Sarah Evans and Julie Lovett asked the British Show Jumping Association (BSJA) to introduce a new “stepping stone series” for young riders.

“There was a gaping hole for novice 12.2hh and 13.2hh ponies and riders,” said Mrs Evans. “My 12-year-old daughter had nowhere to go as the jumps in the larger classes are too intimidating.

“All too often ponies in the 12.2hh/13.2hh sectors have to muddle through combinations that are not built for them — or jump one metre plus, which can be too much of a challenge.”

The series is aimed at new members, children on experienced ponies who need to form a partnership, novice ponies and children who do not feel ready for larger jumps.

It is open to combinations that have not been placed in a winter first round or Horse of the Year Show qualifier.

The 13.2hh classes are over 85cm jumps and are aimed at children aged 14 and under, while the 12.2hh are over 75cm for 12-year-olds and younger.

Julie Haywood from the BSJA said: “They saw what they felt was needed, found a solution to it and then came to us. It was our pleasure to ensure it could be facilitated.”

H&H show jumping columnist Graham Fletcher said: “Any idea to get young children into the system is a good thing. Unless you have an expensive top quality pony you can get slaughtered in classes, which has probably put some kids off. But if you have the opportunity to get good experience with an average pony it’s good news.”

The classes will be held at six venues throughout summer with final in September at Weston Lawns near Coventry, which will include a style prize.

“We want to give these children a crack at a really worthwhile final, with great prizes, without them being outclassed or intimidated when they get there” said Mrs Evans.

The first qualifier is at Onley Grounds Equestrian Complex in Warwickshire 16 May.

• Visit: www.bsja.co.uk

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (7 May, ’09)