Anna Ross: I seem to have contracted own-horseitis *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    Having recently sold two horses for their owners I seem to have contracted the dreaded “own-horseitis” with my remaining ride.

    I have collected a lot of kit for Delgado in a short space of time, including a bridle with an anatomical headpiece, a patent noseband and two handmade bits. It looks like at least three sheep were sacrificed to make his fluffy boots, girth cover, noseband pad and girth.

    His bespoke saddle was specially made from the top of one saddle and the bottom of another and has another sheep laid under it. No saddle sharing for my prince.

    I might even enter a show soon. Delgado’s only done about five tests, although according to the British Dressage (BD) website — which has ongoing issues with its data — we have 10 results, two of which were at the traditional gypsy cob championship.

    BD is really good about removing incorrect results, which has been done for Delgado, and they are equally frustrated with the current system, though they assure me the backroom system is correct.

    Until the new website arrives, a sense of humour is definitely required, although it is awkward if you are selling horses. Most UK purchasers are aware that it’s a genuine issue but if people ask for results from abroad it can look dodgy.

    Time to buy British

    There is currently a window of opportunity for buying horses in the UK — seven or eight years ago, breeding numbers in Europe declined by approximately 40% and this, coupled with an influx of new markets, has resulted in the demand-supply challenge.

    UK breeders have been increasing numbers using semen from top international stallions during these years, so we have plenty of quality dressage horses available here. We have had buyers from India, Tawain and China recently. There’s also interest from stallion owners in Europe looking to buy back quality young colts from the UK.

    It’s definitely the UK market’s time to shine and bring more good horses together for purchasers to view. A united front is necessary as buyers are more likely to come if they can see more than one horse at a time. Breeders need professionally presented videos to tempt clients over, and good riding to show off the horses.

    For purchasers it’s ideal to have the whole history of the horses available. Some breeders are great at marketing already, but as a part of the Elite Foals Registration Tour initiative, I’m putting together advice on presentation and marketing for those who’d like fresh ideas, as well as some draft contracts to be used by breeders and riders to protect each party’s interest and investment.

    Should we split championships?

    The BD winter championships was a great event and a fabulous showcase for British breeding, but I’m struggling with the concept of having upwards of four champions at one level at one show.

    Could there be a case in future to run stand-alone championships for gold, silver and bronze competitors, in the same vein as BD’s new bronze championship this year? The highest scorers from each level at the regionals would then get more chances to compete at championships as there would be more time in the day if the shows were separated. Perhaps we could even have a champion of champions’ final?

    Ref Horse & Hound; 10 May 2018