BSPS judge Pam Prickett on working hunter classes: ‘Fail to prepare and prepare to fail’


  • Pam Prickett, a BSPS-accredited trainer, BSPS council member and judge who has officiated at numerous major shows including HOYS, discusses the 2022 BSPS summer championships

    THE British Show Pony Society (BSPS) summer championship show is not just another show in the diary. It’s one of the season’s highlights and it’s not to be missed.

    I was fortunate enough to judge the novice supreme and there were some real quality animals presented. What struck me was that each exhibit was of a good type for their section. Each pony performed well and both my champion (Rotherwood Fancy That) and reserve (Briarhill Buddy Bolden) had a “look at me” quality. My champion went in a super, uphill way with balance, while my reserve was an outstanding stamp of pony.

    Some of the animals lacked bend and suppleness in their way of going. Riders should aim to work on the suppleness of the frame to improve the quality of the pace and balance. When a pony isn’t supple, the frame tightens and they become hollow through their backs, which spoils the overall picture. This way of going can show when a pony is stripped for conformation, too, as it can impact the muscle structure over the back and hindquarters.

    The working hunter classes are always a feature of the show and this year, competitors were treated to outstanding courses in all three rings. They were extremely well dressed and offered technical lines that required accurate riding. This consequently highlighted those who lacked preparation and experience. The phrase “fail to prepare and prepare to fail” was a running theme.

    This raised a question – should BSPS Areas offer more training for competitors ahead of the championships? I also wonder if a training stakes class should be offered on each morning of the championships for combinations to use as a warm-up for the bigger tracks or to re-build confidence.

    “Young ponies are the future”

    The new Gribben family young pony classes held on Tuesday were a great addition to the schedule. They received huge entries and the prize money – £1,000 to the winner – aided this. This class definitely needs to take centre stage moving forward, as these ponies are the future of the BSPS.

    The championships is often used as a family holiday for many, so it was fantastic to see the children’s entertainment, run by Sharon Thomas, as popular as ever. There’s something held every day and it’s a huge success, especially for those siblings who might not ride. I certainly don’t envy the judge who has to officiate in the dog show, either!

    On the other hand, the young judges’ competition lacked numbers this year, which is a shame. Perhaps this is because Areas have dropped training opportunities post-Covid, but we must try to reverse this. Our winners were excellent young people and I hope they will go on to become panel judges in the future.

    In a similar vein, I also encourage ambitious judges and stewards to offer help at the championships or at Area shows. It’s the ideal way to learn and obtain an insight into what the judge sees from the middle of the ring. As Areas are always looking for help, should older members, or those looking to apply to panel, have to do this at one show per season?

    Developing new life skills

    This year, I was assistant selector for the BSPS working hunter England team, aiding chef d’equipe Joanne Pybus. This is a fantastic competition that promotes camaraderie and friendships, while developing life skills; riders deal with responsibilities and pressure, and learn how to conduct themselves in a professional manner.

    This year, there were some negative comments on social media, and I feel that the society should introduce a code of conduct for riders and connections to follow in relation to social media use during the team selection process.

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, in shops Thursday 8 September

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