Calls for crack-down on rider swaps at top shows

  • In response to a recent letter published in H&H (16 August, showing rule concerns), The Showing Register held a survey asking showing enthusiasts for their opinions on riders qualifying multiple horses for events such as Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS), with the aim of another person riding them in the final. 

    The question “Should the rider who qualifies an animal for HOYS/RIHS be the only person allowed to ride it at the final?”, was posted by TSR on its website and social media feeds.

    More than 900 people replied, with just under 47% of respondents strongly agreeing with the statement, while 23.5 % agreed, 11.93 % disagreed, 9.75 % strongly disagreed and 7.88 % neither agreed or disagreed.

    Participants were also asked to provide comment on their answers.

    Many agreed that bringing in a rule to ensure the same rider competed a horse or pony in both the qualifier and the final would make the process fairer and provide amateurs with a more “level playing field” when it comes to competing on the qualifier circuit.

    One participant said: “Too many people are profiting from the current method,” while another noted: “The whole showing world is dominated by producers, qualifying multiple ponies and horses, often with riders who have hardly even been on them and are being qualified for some else to ride at HOYS/RIHS. The amateurs hardly stand any chance with the current system.”

    Another said: “A person who can afford to have a professional ride their pony would have an advantage over an amateur rider. It should be the combination who qualify (like in lead rein classes).”

    Some had opinions on producers blocking amateurs from competing at top level: “It would help to stop producers taking rides on animals mid-season to purely get the owner a ticket so creating a more level playing field for amateurs and stop ‘blocking’ on tickets,” wrote one respondent.

    Others were against the claim, saying that introducing such a rule would seriously detriment the livelihoods of some in the showing community as well as breeders and owners who do not ride.

    One said: “I feel that if the rider has a good reason, such as qualifying another pony, then they should be able to have someone else ride their second horse.”

    Another added: “From my understanding it’s the animal that qualifies not the rider — if it’s sold the ticket goes with the animal so therefore inviting another rider to show it. It’s kudos for the rider but at the end of the day it’s the animal that’s won that particular class surely?”

    Continues below…

    One participant also raised questions over circumstances preventing certain riders to compete, adding: “Personal injury has forced me to have a jockey for a couple of times.”

    The results will be sent to relevant showing societies for their consideration.

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