It’s always good to see naturally gifted riders come up through the ranks and consistently achieve great results. However, I was uneasy to see several teenagers running showing clinics over the winter.
While I applaud their enthusiasm, how can they have amassed enough experience to address the multitude of issues that could be presented? Also, do they have the ability to adapt their teaching style to suit varied levels of ability and age range?
I also wonder how many have suitable insurance or a first-aid qualification? Without proper insurance, they could find themselves in hot water if anything was to go wrong.
Maybe it’s all part of a need for instant gratification. People want everything instantly in all areas of life these days and perhaps some don’t realise you have to put time as well as expertise into ponies.
Perhaps an apprentice-style scheme could help. It would be a good opportunity for them to team up with someone reputable and more experienced, so that they could shadow them and be mentored before throwing themselves in at the deep end.
The marking system should go
Views on marking systems make for interesting reading. I would like to see the mark system abolished in flat classes for a number of reasons, primarily because I think marks can make classes boring.
When competitors are pulled forward in a qualifying position, they tend to err on the side of caution. By playing safe, they inevitably lose flair when performing their individual shows.
Secondly, the marking system omits the final walk-round. This should be a vital part of a ridden class.
What I also find interesting is the perception of many competitors that being able to view a mark sheet at the end of each section gives them some form of feedback or insight into what the judge was seeking.
Is this really the case? Without any form of comment written to support the mark awarded, does it actually have any substance?
A judge may give you 47/50 for conformation one week and 36/50 the next. That’s because they are marking the ponies in front of them and overall quality may be higher on one day than another. I think the majority of judges mark for a result, not to a conformation blueprint.
Finally, it’s inevitable that maths errors will at some point be made, leaving the steward who added them up bearing the brunt of disgruntled riders. If this happens in a qualifying class, indignation becomes particularly heated and, in some cases, verges on abuse.
We should remember stewards give their time freely to help and that we all make mistakes. And while social media posts celebrating a qualification can go live instantly, you haven’t actually got that qualification until you’ve had the official notification from Horse of the Year Show or the Royal International.
Some say marks should be computerised, but only handwritten sheets prove they haven’t been altered to give a different result.
If that proof wasn’t there, how many more competitors would complain?
Ref Horse & Hound; 4 April 2019