1. Are judges reacting appropriately to overweight horses?
Research in the US mirrors what is being experienced in the UK, with judges more likely to be lenient towards overweight than to leaner horses. The research also suggested judges are not always able to identify when an animal is carrying excess fat. Most of the judges who took part – 77%, 87% and 89% – classed three overweight horses as average, and 91% classed one of the average horses, who had a “faint outline of ribs visible” as thin. In the UK, there is still a sense that overweight horses are not being penalised in all cases, and perhaps more importantly that when overweight horses are being marked down for their obese condition their producers are not necessarily told that this is the reason why.
2. Natasha Baker and Shania Twain
Paralympic multi-medallist Natasha Baker has put Grammy award-winning country star Shania Twain through her paces on horseback. In Sunday night’s (7 November) episode of ITV’s The Pet Show Canadian singer Shania joined Natasha at her yard in Uxbridge to learn about dressage. The pair were in “horsey heaven” as they discussed Natasha’s riding techniques and Shania’s love of liberty work. “When I was told [I’d be partnered with] Shania, straight away I said ‘Well that don’t impress me much!’, and that was when the puns started and they still haven’t finished!” said Natasha.
3. Laura Tomlinson’s view FEI rule changes
The FEI has proposed a rule change forbidding “any type of white substance around the horse’s mouth to imitate foaming”. Laura Tomlinson agrees with the suggestion, saying: “The very word ‘imitating’ says it all. Why pretend that your horse is salivating nicely? Giving a juicy apple or a sugar lump, then having the appropriate bit and a soft contact is all you can do.” She goes on to point out that if the overall picture is soft, why would there be any need to mask anything? “We must be careful that our sport doesn’t drift too far from the founding principles of correct training by allowing quick fixes and cheat methods.” Absolutely.
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