Ponies (UK) executive chairman Davina Whiteman has stepped down after 22 years at the helm.
A new chairman will be chosen at an emergency board meeting to be held in the coming weeks.
The society was founded by Davina’s mother, the late Joan Lee-Smith, in 1988 after a split with its predecessor, Ponies of Britain. Davina has been a board member since then and took over as chairman in 1995.
“All board members are re-elected every three years and I did say I would not be standing again,” said Davina. “I am 76, and feel I have done my bit – I have been totally involved with horses and ponies since I started riding professionally as a child so it’s now time to do some of the things that ‘normal’ people do.
“I will continue to support the society and carry on judging, but the time comes when there are other things to do in life and I have already made a ‘bucket list’ of places I want to visit.”
Acting chairman Julie Templeton said: “The society has huge boots to fill with Davina’s departure – we are all very sad to see her go. She was amazing for Ponies UK – in fact she was Ponies UK and she will be very much missed.”
For the first time since 1953, when it began under the auspices of Ponies of Britain, the traditional summer championship show is not scheduled to take place this year.
The original show was held on Ascot racecourse and moved to Eastfield Road, Peterborough, in 1956. It has been held at the East of England showground since the mid-60s and at its peak, in 2000, drew 12,645 entries from more than 4,000 animals in 800-plus classes over five days.
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Sadly, support for the show has been declining in recent years.
“We have not yet decided what will happen this year but there will not be a summer championship show in its usual format,” added Julie.