Katie Jerram: Breaking an unspoken rule *H&H VIP*

  • Commentators and showing classes have become a talking point this season.

    Traditionally, exhibitors should not be identified while a class is in progress, but some shows are breaking this unspoken rule.

    I believe the idea is to make showing classes more interesting to the general public. I’m all for getting spectators interested and involved, but commentary that names horses and riders should be kept until the end of a class.

    Of course judges often recognise some combinations. But just as judges shouldn’t be seen consulting a catalogue on a showground, so they should keep their earplugs in!

    In a showjumping class, knowing who a horse or rider is won’t change whether the poles stay up. But as showing is subjective, the order of the first pull-in can change as the class progresses. I’ve seen line-ups changed in classes for retrained racehorses after commentators have given information on a horse’s history and winnings.

    Exhibitors have to be so careful. We can wear sponsors’ jackets bearing logos and names when warming up, but a groom who forgets to swap a team jacket for an anonymous one before going in the ring may be asked to leave.

    A change of track

    Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) classes go from strength to strength. I watched the one at Kent County, where excitement got the better of a few horses and led to a reshuffle. This underlines my point on commentaries, but it was lovely to see horses who were initially pulled in lower down the line moved up after going beautifully and giving the judge a great ride.

    It takes a good judge to sort these classes. Deciding the order of that first pull-in is difficult, and judges must have the confidence to shuffle the order when necessary.

    RoR classes attract a lot of ringside interest and people from non-horsey backgrounds like the idea of racehorses changing track. This is where appropriate commentary can help, by explaining how much work goes into reschooling them.

    The Great Scot! ladies’ side-saddle horse qualifiers are attracting healthy numbers.

    Hunters outweigh entrants from other categories, but we now have a hack finalist through from Cheshire County and I’m sure we’ll see riding horses making the final cut.

    Will we see a cob make the final? It could be done. At a recent show, an amateur rider told me how much she enjoyed competing in this class because it gave her cob another job to do.

    As an added incentive, the sponsors have given vouchers for their clothing range as qualifying class prizes. What a great idea — one that more shows might be able to encourage, as it’s a boost for competitors and cost-effective for sponsors.

    A job well done

    I don’t often single out competitors in this column, but I must congratulate Poppy Carter for winning the North of England summer show £1,000 show pony supreme on the 128cm Rotherwood Rainmaker for the third year running. It’s a great achievement, and proves that big talent can come in small packages.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 23 July 2015