Showing societies launch fresh initiatives in reaction to declining British Riding Pony numbers

  • Two leading societies, the National Pony Society (NPS) and the British Show Pony Society (BSPS), have set out to increase support for the British riding pony through a series of new initiatives.

    Over the past few years, concern has been raised over the lack of British riding ponies being bred and shown.

    “One of the biggest challenges any breed society faces is finding new audiences,” Sacha Shaw from the NPS told H&H. “Earlier this year the NPS secured a showcase spot at the British Breeding stallion event where some of our best dual-purpose British riding pony stallions could be presented to a different mare owners audience.”

    In 2021 the NPS offered registered British riding pony stallion owners the chance to present their stallions to a panel of judges from the Trakehner Verband in an unofficial assessment of their suitability to produce sport ponies.

    “The scheme will be expanded for 2022 and, post-Covid lockdowns, it is hoped that participants will have the benefit of international assessment,” said Sacha. “Successful participants will gain a sports accreditation within the stud book.”

    There will also be six new British riding pony regional breed shows held this year, offering the full complement of nine show pony breeding classes. These are: NPS Area 10 (southwest), NPS Area 20 (southeast), Midland Counties (central), Royal Norfolk (eastern), NPS Area 29 (Wales), NPS Area 4 (northern) and in 2023 these will be joined by the Scottish Horse Show (Scotland).

    The BSPS in conjunction with the NPS has also announced a new initiative at the BSPS summer championships to promote the breeding of British riding ponies. In selected classes the highest placed mare will be entered into the Breeders Challenge, the champion of which will wil a stallion premium covering by Llanarth Top Cat sponsored by Jerome Harforth. The reserve champion will receive a £500 stallion premium voucher sponsored by the NPS.

    “We’re pleased to be working in partnership with the NPS to promote the breeding of riding ponies, support existing breeders and hopefully encourage new breeders of the future,” said BSPS council member Edward Young.

    Anneli Jones, chair of the NPS stud book committee added: “We’re also keen to help riders get a good understanding of how their pony is bred and an appreciation for reputable, responsible breeders is key to this. To this end the NPS has been working with BSPS to identify ways to encourage this. We are pleased that breeders will be invited to showcase their studs at the BSPS summer championship show and the stud book committee is also looking to identify other events to showcase the qualities of the breed”.

    Other schemes include the NPS /Derby House British riding pony performance points scheme, which will continue with an emphasis on encouraging grassroots participation in different disciplines, as well as affiliated competitors.

    The existing stallion points awards were revamped in 2021 to include a wider range of county and NPS area shows and to take into account results from both the ridden and in-hand sectors. It is hoped that the new scheme will continue to identify stallions throwing successful offspring, and offer a tool to help mare owners with their stallion selections.

    A new premium scheme for sires of in-hand show stock was also launched last year, intended to identify successful stallions, including younger stallions beginning to make their mark. Based on results at selected shows across the country in British riding pony breeding classes, six stallions — Alonby Chardonnier, Cusop Julian, Jackets Shades of Blue, Llanarth Aristocat, Rotherwood Spring Storm and Stanley Grange Regal Empire — were awarded premium status in 2021. A stallion that has been awarded three annual premiums (not necessarily concurrently) will be designated a lifetime super premium stallion. This scheme will continue in 2022.

    The overall champion and reserve British riding pony broodmares competing at the NPS Summer Championships will be awarded the NPS/Cowance Stud broodmare premium, a cash prize to be offset against the stud fee of any licensed British riding pony stallion participating in the scheme

    The Cuddington Stud and NPS British riding pony bursaries for children or young adults competing on British riding ponies will also be continued this year.

    Finally, the NPS continues to promote ridden classes for British riding ponies that are open to any age and suitably mounted rider, allowing lightweight adults and older children to continue to enjoy their ponies.

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