Stuart Hollings: When both judges aren’t in harmony *H&H VIP*

Opinion

End of season championship shows are ideal places to ponder the highs and lows of the showing year as well as providing the perfect excuse to put the world to rights.

A topic often mentioned: are two judges’ opinions better than one or does the adage “too many cooks spoil the broth” have more relevance? Were showing classes judged better in the olden days, producing clearer cut results, when more relaxed timing schedules allowed for just one judge?

The late Joan Gibson was popular and consistent: if she liked your pony and he performed an adequate gallop in the show, you could travel anywhere in the country and guarantee that you were in with a shout.

Nowadays with the dual judge combo, together with the all important mark system in the pony classes, the campaign trail has become more complex. One often hears disappointed competitors blaming their poor result on the dreaded “good cop, bad cop” judging scenario.

The results of the flat classes at last month’s British Show Pony Society championships revealed some inconsistency as the main players were shuffled around during the week. Looking at the bigger picture, could this be the main reason for the present day lack of established stars on the circuit?

There’s nothing better than when two judges are in harmony. But when they are not singing from the same hymn sheet, it’s a nightmare of compromise.

One time at the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), two judges were looking for a different stamp of show pony: this was highlighted in the middle height division when they found common ground in their eighth choice, which subsequently won.

It was such a shame, as the judges’ ultimate goal at HOYS is to choose a winner which definitely merits the coveted “of the year’’ title.

A native affair

In two weeks, all eyes will be on the Cuddy supreme in-hand final at HOYS to be judged by Sue Keylock (née Eckley) and Peter Goumans, a former chairman of the Jury of Judges for the Dutch Welsh Pony & Cob Society.

Sue enjoyed phenomenal success with homebred Cusop ponies and rode the legendary 18-year-old stallion Bwlch Valentino in the HOYS Personality Parade in 1968, which must rate as one of the most iconic moments in the show’s 70-year history. A trophy in his name is presented to the breeder of the HOYS champion show pony.

Special congratulations to all 11 native representatives out of the 22 qualified equines: five Welsh, three Connemaras, two Dartmoor ponies and a Highland in a pear tree.

Pure breeds are at a disadvantage at qualifying rounds compared to their plaited brethren, as they usually have only one roll of the dice.

Horses, however, can be shown in hunter, sport horse and light horse breeding sections. Similarly, ponies have more gaming chips to use when competing in additional part-bred Arab/Welsh classes.

I’m not a betting man, but my money’s on a winner from the maternity unit.

Ref Horse & Hound; 20 September 2018