Performance records for grass-roots riders

  • Show jumping and dressage series Trailblazers has launched a performance scheme that will allow riders to have a proven record of their results in the championship.

    Competitors will be able to purchase a performance card for £10 — or £15 if buying one that covers both show jumping and dressage — which will keep track of each of their horses and ponies within the series. Recorded results will be authenticated with a show centre’s stamp.

    “The Performance Card can be seen as the icing on the cake [for Trailblazers],” says series chairman Norman Bargh. “Riders can become Trailblazers members, register their horses and have a record of what they do. [It] is a fun way to keep a proven record of a horse or pony’s success throughout its career.”

    The mechanics of the system are very simple, which is why, according to Bargh, it costs so little. “We [issue] one card per horse per discipline, but it all goes into the same folder we give competitors,” he explains. “At the end of each show, each competitor fills in the performance card [with the points his horse scored] and takes it to the show secretary to get it stamped.”

    The Trailblazers team have mailed application forms for the performance card to some 13,000 riders and are striving to have the scheme in place by 1 September. At a later stage, Bargh hopes show centres will start competitions among their members where people who have the highest number of points on their Trailblazers card win a prize.

    However, he is keen to point out that riders are under no obligation to get a card and that Trailblazers will continue to keep its informal atmosphere. “There is absolutely no pressure from us to join anything,” he explains. “The only thing people have to do to compete in the series is to write their registration form when they enter Trailblazers. Everything else is voluntary all the way down the line.”

    The Trailblazers scheme, which is supported by the series’ sponsor, South Essex Insurance Brokers, comes at a time when the British Show Jumping Association is hoping to bring unaffiliated riders under its umbrella. However, Bargh denies that his initiative is a response to the BSJA’s plans. “We discussed this idea at last year’s Trailblazers final. It has been in planning for over twelve months. The scheme was not done to undermine the BSJA at all.”

    That said, he admits that Trailblazers was created to fill a competition gap left open by the BSJA and British Dressage. “Trailblazers was formed because the affiliated organs were not catering to grassroots levels. We needed to cater to the mass market and we have been [doing so],” he says. “With all the due respect, there won’t be 35,000 horses at affiliated level, and when you consider that some 650,000 horses have been registered under the passport scheme, that’s why riding centres need to look at the mass-market.”

    Bargh says he initially brought the Trailblazers concept to the BSJA six years ago, but they weren’t interested in running it at the time. “We do wish BSJA and BD well. But, unlike football or swimming, the equestrian world doesn’t even look at competitors unless they are three-quarters of the way up. We’d all love to work at the top end, but there isn’t enough membership to go round.”

    According Bargh, Trailblazers is a third level of competition that falls between unaffiliated and affiliated. “There is now Trailblazers and affiliated, as well as thriving riding club competitions,” he says.

    He points out that the series attracts a huge number of entries every year from riders that are neither members of a club nor of a federation but want to compete in a professional environment. “Trailblazers is run by professional show organisers that make their living from running shows,” he says. “[These people] are the first point of contact for competitors. Where Trailblazers has been successful is that show organisers listened to what people wanted. There is no point in serving people something they do not want.”

    For more information on Trailblazers, visit www.trailblazerschampionships.com.

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