I have been showing for too many years to mention and have seen and heard most things. But a first occurred for us at the recent Staffs county show. Our 128cm show pony rider was placed fifth in a class of three in what seemed to us to be a bizarre, Alice-in-Wonderland scenario.
The ring was a little buzzy and, fair enough, our pony and one other did misbehave on the go-round. However, our jockey was not in danger or frightened and was keen to do her show.
The judges said the two ponies should really have been sent out, but asked if the riders wanted to continue and do their shows. Both did and, on presentation of the rosettes, first place was awarded as normal to the pony at the top of the line. The one standing second was then given fourth place, with our pony standing third in line receiving a fifth-place rosette.
We were told this was because neither pony deserved to be in a qualifying position and go to the Royal International (RIHS). There are a few pertinent points to this story and I feel it’s important to raise them.
A better solution
First, we are part of a children’s society and, as such, have to encourage young riders in every way possible. Both children had already qualified, so the judges’ actions seem irrelevant. With only three in this qualifying class, the gesture did nothing to encourage entries at future shows and we all know how important it is to boost showing entries.
Finally, how do you explain to a child that it is possible to achieve fifth place out of three? If the ponies’ behaviour was deemed unacceptable, perhaps a better solution would have been to give out the rosettes as normal and then ask the person responsible for the second-placed pony not to bring it back into the championship.
After representations were made to the British Show Pony Society (BSPS), the latter clarified its advice to judges as being that if a pony is badly behaved and presents a risk to the rider or other competitors, or the child is so distressed they do not want to continue, they should be asked to leave the ring. Otherwise, they should be placed according to the marks, regardless of the numbers forward in the class.
I’m pleased the results were adjusted accordingly, and I’m told the new rosettes and prize money are being sent to the riders concerned.
Celebrations and commiserations
With all the RIHS qualifiers finished, we are now on the run-up to the week itself. Hickstead has posted pictures of the fabulous new-surface showing rings they have installed for this year’s show, along with other brilliant changes.
The inclusion of a champagne marquee next to the rings sounds particularly exciting for spectators and will provide the perfect place for celebrations and even commiserations. Good luck to everyone heading for Hickstead. Remember, it’s an achievement to get there and anything else is icing on the cake.
Ref Horse & Hound; 20 June 2019