Simon Reynolds: I know which animal I’d have *H&H VIP*

Opinion

Fellow columnist Robert Walker and myself have both commented on the issue of judges penalising young horses for being a little immature. We have both received very positive comments from the showing community. It seems the trend nowadays is that older horses are the norm, whereas they used to be unheard of when they reached double figures as they would usually have gone on to do another job.

I think we need to realise that without these fresh, young horses, we won’t have any for the future. A young horse should not be penalised because of its age if it performs well. I’m always excited to see a new star.

For me, negative comments about a little physical immaturity would be very insignificant compared to, say, an older horse that is very well made up but may have a lot of wear and tear in the joints. I know which animal I would sooner have.

Wasted on some

Reflecting on Royal International week, where we had intense heat that then swiftly turned into a monsoon, thank goodness we had the fabulous facilities to accommodate such a vast number of horses.

We must be grateful for the resurfacing of ring three, the track in ring five and of course, the enormous all-weather working arena. Without these improvements, the show could have been in danger of being cancelled. Thankfully, Hickstead organisers made sure this was never an option.

The amount of money these improvements cost is sadly wasted on some competitors, who seem to take for granted the multi-millions spent to make their experience better. It’s sad to see people abusing the facilities by littering and making a mess. I dread to think how long the clean-up operation takes.

Second-class citizens

I know the team at Hickstead are very open to constructive comments and there has been much competitor talk about perhaps altering the timetable to swap the lead-rein with the cobs. Unfortunately, the cobs did make a bit of a mess of the ring before the lead-rein ponies went in. It probably does make sense to put the lead-rein animals in there and move the cobs to an alternative ring.

It was a wise move to barrier off the collecting ring from the showjumpers, especially as we have very young jockeys who may not be as aware as the older competitors. This gave them some protection and I’m sure the showjumpers were also grateful for the improvement. It was good still to be able to use the whole arena to work in and I did see the majority of people just sticking to the outside and then using the barriered area to turn and circle.

It’s always beneficial to see these changes, which are made with common sense. At some shows, the “showing lot” can be disregarded like second-class citizens; however, at Hickstead we are treated very well and given the same fabulous facilities as the other competitors.

Ref Horse & Hound; 22 August 2019