Pony make-up warning and new showing opportunities *H&H Plus*

  • The British Show Pony Society covered a wide range of topics at its first members’ meeting. H&H finds out what members need to know for this season

    SHOWING competitors have been warned against using excessive make-up on ponies, and urged to comply with post-Covid guidelines.

    At the first British Show Pony Society (BSPS) members’ conference on 27 March, officials tackled hot topics also including safety equipment, and opportunities for plaited ponies.

    National vice-chairman Nigel Hollings reinforced the importance of ensuring ponies are presented with correct passports.

    “The rule is clear but we need to be aware of what it really means,” he said. “A pony must be shown in the name under which it was originally registered with a recognised society. Identification of ponies must be in accordance with the Joint Measuring Board certificate or national passport at all times, and disciplinary action will be taken against competitors breaking this rule.”

    Mr Hollings added that ponies must be shown in as natural a state as possible.

    “Any markings can be enhanced a little; a white sock can have whitener applied. But you cannot mask or dye features, including socks and stars, as this is not in line with the horse’s identity on its passport.

    “Black polish on a white hoof is also covering up an animal’s true identity. We have to be very careful and realise judges don’t mind if a pony has a small section of white. Some of the worst examples are grey ponies with black covering their knees and eyes. We should be encouraging these ponies to look as natural as possible; beauty isn’t just about make-up. With the amount of products on the market, people are going a little mad with it.”

    Mr Hollings added that he could see no difference between a false tail and a false plait, often used when an animal suffers from a thinning mane during the season, as this is not changing the pony’s identity. But chairman of judges’ assessment and conferences Paul Cook said there is a difference between using a false tail on an M&M breed and on a plaited pony.

    “Many of the breed societies ban those as the quality of the hair in the native is part of the breed standard,” he said.

    Executive member of council Sharon Thomas confirmed that while the FEI has banned the trimming of sensory hairs, the BSPS will still allow them to be removed, but judges will not take trimming into consideration. She also urged members to be mindful of their ponies’ weight and offered advice on how to ensure they remain fit.

    New opportunities

    Fellow executive member Simon Richardson brought up the BSPS mountain and moorland (M&M) supreme championship’s new home at the Liverpool International Horse Show. But this raised a member’s question over a possible lack of opportunities for the plaited ridden pony.

    “How we can do more to promote the British riding and hunter pony has been a hot topic for us and the National Pony Society (NPS) of late,” said Paul. “We want to prove they are versatile animals.”

    Council member and judge Philip Hilton brought up the introduction of arena eventing to the BSPS, to run at the working sports pony show at Vale View (29 — 30 May).

    “It’s an exciting development for the society,” he said.

    Executive officer Joy Hall explained the new classes and formats added to the summer championship show (24 — 28 August) schedule, including an extra day of competition for a selection of Horse of the Year Show qualifiers for horses. One notable addition is the royal bronze riding to music class, for plaited contenders.

    “On the second day of the championships, there will be classes for those eligible for novices and Pretty Polly sections,” she said. “Council realised there was nothing on this day for the open ponies. We’re going to run this new competition where ponies and riders will perform a freestyle show of no more than three minutes. There will be three show pony, four hunter pony and two intermediate classes, and riders are to provide their own music. The first prize winners will compete in a championship in the evening performance. We hope you will support this new class.”

    Council member and judge Philip Hilton tackled new rulings around safety, namely body protector and hat standardisations.

    “In the world of entertainment the old adage ‘never work with children and animals’ applies — the BSPS works with both,” he said. “One of the most influential changes we made was the menial standard of conformity in riding hats at shows. This has been accepted without question. It’s hard to check hats at shows, though, which is why we’re intending to introduce hat tagging, following the Pony Club, the British Horse Society and British Eventing, who already have this process. This has been delayed due to Covid, but we will be checking some hats at our championship show and tagging them with our lime-green tags. The BSPS will recognise tags from any of the above societies.”

    Mr Hilton added that the BSPS wants a body protector standard to be phased in.

    Members were reminded that shows’ running under Covid restrictions will mean increased costs and work for organisers.

    Chairman of area chairmen Joanne Pybus discussed the Showing Council’s most showing blueprint (news, 1 April).

    “We’ll have to get used to many things,” she said. “You can only have three people not including children under two but including the rider, per pony, and you must provide all vehicle registrations and addresses of individuals attending. Shows now operate an online-only entry system so track and trace information can be collected. You may be asked to print your own back number and will need to abide by specific ‘not before’ class times. Rosettes may also be collected, not presented, and after your class, you must go back to your lorry, and social distancing must be observed.”

    The phrase “stay local” mentioned in the blueprint was also clarified:

    “You’re not to drive past one show to get to another,” Ms Pybus said. “This does not mean you have to attend the local gymkhana but you can’t drive past two Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) qualifiers to a third because you like the judge better.”

    Finally, the council confirmed that ponies will be stripped in all BSPS RIHS qualifiers this year.

    You might also be interested in…