The Great Yorkshire Show (GYS) said it is “frustrated” by the fact people had to be asked to dismount as they were too heavy for their rides – a year after it first took a stand on the issue.
Of the 12 people asked to dismount during the 2017 show (11-13 July) four chose to be weighed, all of whom were found to be more than 25% of their ponies’ weight, let alone the 20% set as maximum by the show.
Livestock and entries co-ordinator Amanda Stoddart-West said it was “disappointing to be in the same position” as last year’s show, at which eight people deemed too heavy, each more than 20% of the horse’s weight, were asked to dismount.
“It’s a sad state,” she told H&H. “All we’re doing is protecting horse welfare, but I don’t know how you go about changing the whole attitude.”
The GYS schedule stated that action would be taken regarding riders of inappropriate weight for their mounts, whether during, before or after classes, and the same message was displayed on signs on the showground.
But Mrs Stoddart-West said most of the offenders were adults on ponies, sometimes riding for “hours” in preparation for a child to compete, and that some of those who were asked to dismount were less than polite.
“It’s in our regulations, but they seemed to think they were above it,” she said.
“We were told we didn’t understand the sport, that we were getting at the profession, encouraging eating disorders. One argument was that there’s no scientific proof behind the maximum weight but usually, if the picture looks wrong, it probably is.”
Mrs Stoddart-West said that although arguments ensued when riders were asked to dismount, the decision also had a number of supporters.
“Having been screamed and shouted at, to then hear people coming up saying well done and that we were doing the right thing made it worth it.
“We don’t want to sound arrogant but if people want to come to our show, they have to abide by our rules.
The organising committee ruled that anyone deemed to…
Riders deemed to be too heavy for their…
“We’re not trying to change the world, we just want people on the right horses. We will keep going with it.”
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.