A new initiative offering awards for the horses or ponies of the healthiest weight at a showing show is aimed at trying to raise owner awareness of optimum condition.
Researcher Tamzin Furtado is working with Leahurst Equine Practice, the Horse Trust and Foxes Equestrian Centre in the Wirral to present rosettes in seven in-hand classes at Foxes’ show on Sunday (19 May).
Ms Furtado, who has recently completed a PhD looking into equine obesity and owner attitudes to it, told H&H owners can find it quite hard to recognise appropriate body shape.
“People also often talk about showing as being a particular issue – horses who are overweight or cresty are often celebrated for their condition – and we want to slightly challenge that, by celebrating horses in ideal body condition,” she said.
Ms Furtado said the classes will be run and judged as normal, but Leahurst vet Ben Curnow will award the separate rosettes, sponsored by the Horse Trust, to the animal he considers of the healthiest body condition in each class.
“We want to help recalibrate people’s ideas of a healthy weight,” she said. “And the feedback has been amazing.
“Ben says everyone’s talking about it, some saying they’re going to enter those classes for this reason. We can’t offer the rosettes in all classes as there are four rings, and we’ve had some competitors disappointed that it’s not all of them.
“We thought this would be a good starting point but the reaction has been fantastic.
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“We’ve been a bit blown away by the response, which shows people are keen to address the issue. It’s not about being critical of or challenging the judges, just showcasing what ideal body condition looks like.”
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