Rebecca Penny: Let’s not scupper others’ dreams *H&H VIP*

Opinion

There’s a fine line between gamesmanship and damaging a rival’s chances at an important show, whether it be deliberately or inadvertently. That line has been crossed more than once this season, and I wonder whether we should take a new look at the protocol surrounding height objections.

I agree wholeheartedly that anyone who believes an animal is over the height limit for its class, and is prepared to forfeit an accompanying hefty fee should their objection fail, should have the right to object to the Joint Measurement Board (JMB). However, it doesn’t seem right that this can be done at any time during the season.

Under JMB rules, objections can be made in several circumstances — either by the chairman or secretary on behalf of the show executive, by a judge, or by a competitor in the same class at a particular show.

The objection must be made within 21 days of that particular class, and the JMB then informs the owner of the animal that has been objected to that it must be remeasured within another 20 working days.

The British justice system is supposed to ensure that an accused is innocent until proven guilty. As animals  that are the subject of an objection are not allowed to compete until they have been remeasured — an understandably in-depth procedure involving extra officials and blood tests — it seems in these cases owners are guilty until proven innocent.

You don’t have to be a maths wizard to work out that an unfortunately timed objection can scupper hopes and dreams. To ensure that everyone has the same opportunities, surely we should have a system where a height certificate lasts for the whole of the year in which it is issued.

That way, objections could still be made but the pony or horse in question is presented for remeasurement on or after 1 January of the following year, before being allowed to compete that season. That system would surely be acceptable to all, apart from those who are determined to win by any means.

It’s always sad when a high-profile show animal measures out by a tiny amount, as we’ve seen this year. Anyone who can look at a pony and be confident enough that it’s 1cm over the limit to raise an objection has better spatial awareness than me!

If it’s good enough, it’s big enough

On the question of height, why are so many riders and owners under the impression that bigger is better? You see so many potential purchasers looking for show animals stipulating that they must be “up to height.”

While some of our native pony breed standards only stipulate a preferred maximum height, others have height restrictions — but are we jeopardising type with height?

A smaller pony that is deep through the girth can give a lovely picture with an adult of the appropriate size and weight, and a 138cm with free movement can give a much bigger ride than a 148cm with a more restricted stride.

In my opinion, if it’s good enough it’s big enough, so let’s not discount the little ’uns!

Ref Horse & Hound; 15 August 2019