The British Show Pony Society (BSPS) is revoking its decision to increase spread widths in Heritage mountain and moorland (M&M) working hunter pony classes and will be returning to the rules stated in the 2021 rule book after a strong response from members.
The issue was discussed at a council meeting on 4 February and the change was confirmed to judges the following day at the society’s annual judges’ conference and AGM held at the Marriott Hotel in Lincolnshire.
“It’s important that we listen to our members,” said new BSPS chair Paul Cook who chaired the judges’ conference for the final time before he hands the reins over to the new BSPS vice-chair Joanne Pybus. “If we realise we haven’t got something right we must endeavour to fix it.”
The rule to increase spread widths was introduced into the 2022 rulebook and prompted huge reaction from competitors, especially those who rode, owned, bred and promoted the larger, heavier breeds such as the Fell, Dales and Highland, and the smaller breeds such as the Shetland and Exmoor.
Members discussed the issue at the virtual BSPS members’ conference on 19 January. At the time, championship show vice-chairman Philip Hilton confirmed that the reason for the change had come from “pleading course-builders, judges and competitors” who had made note of the lack of challenge in Heritage working hunter classes at championship shows.
But owing to the reaction from competitors, the society said it would take the issue to council at the judges’ conference in February and that they would be “taking into account the members’ feelings and advice from native breed societies as well as judges.”
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