The row over a new safety headgear rule proposed by a major showing society has continued to escalate after a promotional leaflet for traditional hats was sent out with membership renewals.
H&H reported last month that Sport Horse Breeding (Great Britain) (SHB (GB)) — which governs all hunter classes — had decided to make it compulsory for all competitors and judges to wear a hat or skull cap with safety harness that meets current approved BSI or European standards (news, 21 November).
Members responded with such outrage that SHB(GB) then decided to postpone the decision pending further discussion. SHB (GB) has not told its members about the delay on the ruling.
Competitors were then infuriated when their membership renewal came with an advertising flyer from bespoke hat manufacturer Honri Hats. The company specialises in traditional hunt caps, top hats and bowlers.
“I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the flyer,” said Diane Brash. “It is very misleading to members. There was no mention of any hats which met safety standards or anything about the new rule.”
“It is laughable and short-sighted,” judge Magnus Nicholson added.
Liz Morley, chairman of the SHB(GB) show committee, told H&H that the timing of the flyer was “unfortunate”, but said that it had been arranged before the hat ruling had been discussed.
Amid the confusion, a number of riders have contacted H&H to say they support the safety initiative.
“It makes me so angry that we are wasting time arguing when serious injury and fatalities could be prevented,” said Faye Streeter. “
In my opinion, anyone who gets on a horse under any circumstances should be wearing a proper hat,” added Gay Parkin.
SHB(GB) is not the only society trying to step up safety standards. The British Skewbald and Piebald Association (BSPA) recently announced that its council had voted unanimously to introduce a rule that would make hard hats with chinstraps compulsory for competitors.
The BSPA will now put the decision forward to be voted on at its AGM on 15 December.