Organisers of the Great Yorkshire Show (GYS) have stressed the bigger picture in their horse welfare-related decisions and rules, as Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) “clarified” its removal of some of the show’s qualifying classes.
GYS has been the first to bring in a number of rules that are aimed at improved equine welfare, and have sparked debate.
“Everything we’ve implemented is firstly about equine welfare and as we have said before the level playing field [the rider-age rule] creates is an added bonus,” GYS entries livestock and entries coordinator Amanda Stoddart-West told H&H. “It’s all of those things that we should all be encouraging in our sport, rather than brushing them under the carpet.
“There’s been a lot of talk regarding social licence and that how in 20 years’ time, there won’t be anyone riding horses, and by not acting, we’re playing into the hands of the people who would like to see the end of horse sport. Unless we clean things up, that is what will happen. This is about equine welfare, and we’re also doing this because we care about shows, and the longevity of showing, and all equestrian sport.”
The GYS also brought in a rule banning horses or ponies with trimmed whiskers from competing at this year’s show, which was praised by World Horse Welfare.
“We’re all in the spotlight, and we need to be looking at this for the longer term rather than just the next show,” Mrs Stoddart-West said.
“While we would always be open to discussion on any matter, [the rider-age] rule will not be removed as we wholeheartedly believe it benefits ponies not to be ‘bottomed’ or flattened by a larger person before entering the ring. Again, we would reiterate that a child’s pony should be just that, suitable for a child and not one that needs to be ridden into the ground first.
“Horse welfare is and will always be our highest priority.”
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