1. Vet’s views on what show ponies should be bred for
Speaking at The Showing Council’s summer conference on 28 June, equine vet, competitor and coach Rebecca Hamilton-Fletcher voiced her concerns and suggestions for show ponies’ future – namely a focus on temperament for safety, rather than sharpness and wow factor.
Asking whether the ridden show pony is fit for purpose, Rebecca considered the rider size and weight debate, saying: “This is targeted at larger riders on these ponies, who are not competing them. I know the reasons put forward for this and we need to discuss them.”
Show pony producers have previously argued that these classes are for the “best” pony, not the “safest”, and for safety reasons it must be allowed for adults to warm-up the ponies for children to then ride them safely in the ring. But Rebecca said: “[The ridden show pony] is a fabulous pony; beautiful, extravagant, elite, but sharp. That’s part of its wow factor, it wins classes, and unfortunately any characteristic that wins classes is selectively bred for. I’d suggest that being bred for movement and pizazz is being done at the expense of temperament. Some would say that doesn’t matter, but I’d argue that it does.”
2. An incredible puissance debut
Puissance first-timers Mark Edwards and the home-bred Montreuxs Tale won a spectacular red wall debut at Bolesworth International Horse Show (2 July). The pair were the only combination to clear 2.19m in the fifth and final round. They landed to a huge cheer from the crowds lining the banks of Bolesworth’s amphitheatre – while Wimbledon has Henman Hill, the equivalent at Bolesworth was renamed Montreuxs’ Mound on Saturday night. What a way to begin.
3. The rider who sang her freestyle when the music stopped
A rider whose CD went wrong and then stopped during her prix st georges (PSG) freestyle, then sang part of the music herself as she finished the test without breaking stride. Zara Griffiss told H&H that having hung about all day waiting to ride her test on Patrick Leg’s 17.3hh Irish draught Allegro, she had no intention of stopping when the music did.
“He was going so well; he warmed up amazingly and I thought ‘I could get a personal best today’,” she said. “Then he did all his fours and threes; it was going so well, then disaster! The music wasn’t just stopping, it was fast-forwarding, rewinding; the noise it was making was scaring the horses in the warm-up. Then it just switched off. I thought: ‘I’m not leaving this arena without a sheet!’” she said. Top marks for ingenuity and perseverance.
You might also be interested in:
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.