Once again, we have show organisers worried that a lack of entries will force them to abandon classes and competitors who can’t support all their favourite shows because of date clashes.
Could show secretaries running qualifying classes set up a networking or liaison system, or could existing allocation arrangements be improved so each area has only so many qualifiers on the same day? Could umbrella organisations such as The Showing Council help?
For example, on one April weekend we had the British Show Horse Association southern spring show, four British Show Pony Society area shows, and Brook Farm, with South of England spring show two days after the latter. I was very disappointed not to be able to support Brook Farm, my local show, because of commitments at another venue.
I’m also disappointed that South Suffolk clashes with Royal Windsor again. Last year, Windsor — one of the most prestigious and popular shows in the calendar — had to move riding horse classes to the South Suffolk date. The same applies this year and, unfortunately, South Suffolk couldn’t or wouldn’t change its date.
The clash may not affect many amateur competitors, but reduces entries and revenue, bringing us back to the “use it or lose it” scenario.
Collecting ring politics
Show animals should be well-mannered for their riders and, where applicable, ride judges. We need enough room to be able to warm up but it often becomes a fight for space and, sometimes, the only safe approach is for everyone to stay on the same rein.
My biggest worry is when adults and children share a collecting ring. Concentrating on your own horse and being aware of young riders who are naïve in terms of safety isn’t easy, but is essential.
Children must learn basic rules such as riding left hand to left hand as soon as possible, but sometimes you find you’re in the same warm-up area as first ridden riders who don’t all know their left from their right! The onus must be on adult competitors to think for two and on adults supervising children to put safety first.
Addington recently organised things so that children were in the top warm-up area, with mountain and moorlands next to them, then working hunters and finally flat class horses. Anyone needing to lunge had to do so on grass, and because there is plenty of room at the site, it worked.
Ponies (UK) adopted a great policy at their recent championships. They allowed riders to warm up in the rings at certain times, which was valuable for novice horses. Letting them experience the environment in which they were then asked to perform boosted confidence and safety.
At this time of year, there are novices who still have little show experience. I’ve also seen a few experienced horses out who haven’t competed since Horse of the Year Show and who are still associating a show with that busy atmosphere.
I always recommend owners to take horses to clinics so they can work in a new environment with unknown horses, without pressure. But wherever you are, please watch out for children — in the nicest way.
Ref Horse & Hound; 18 April 2019