David Dixon: ‘I am aware of concerns over qualifiers and judging’ *H&H Plus*


  • Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain chairman David Dixon looks forward

    At last, along with the sunshine, we have light at the end of this horrendous Covid-19-driven tunnel. We finally have a plan in place for us to return to some form of normality, as long as we can continue to follow the guidelines and meet those all-important set targets.

    The much-used phrase “We are all in this together” is as valid now as ever. However, I’m very aware that as we slowly emerge from under this cloud, we might all be in the same boat, but some of us are turning on the motors while others are left paddling with a stick.

    The pandemic has affected each and every one of us. Many people have worked tirelessly over the past year, often covering shifts for colleagues who have been furloughed or who have been ill. Others have worked from home, which presents its own challenges.

    Sadly, there have been many redundancies and we have seen small businesses go under, putting whole families under immense pressure, both financially and mentally. But most importantly, my thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones in this pandemic. So as we move forward, let’s do so with compassion and buckets full of hope for better times to come our way.

    Return of ride judging

    As a society, Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain (SHB(GB)) continues to work closely with The Showing Council and their showing blueprint. We are also in constant communication with Lizzie Bunn and her team at Hickstead to pave a way forward for the coming season. As with all societies, these plans are dictated by the relevant government guidelines.

    Our society is steeped in tradition and has an enviable heritage. Part of that tradition is our wonderful ride judges who are revered and respected worldwide, and I so look forward to seeing their return to our rings. I’m not alone in my enjoyment of watching two judges working harmoniously together in assessing a class of ridden horses, going through the process in an efficient and workmanlike manner; the system encourages transparency and understanding between competitors and spectators.

    I’m aware of concerns over the Royal International (RIHS) qualifiers and if all these classes will have ride judges.

    We can’t confirm either way yet, but my view on this is simply that all horses qualify under different circumstances anyway. Some may qualify at a small, quiet indoor venue, while others qualify at a busy, large outdoor one. Some in the blustery wind and rain and others in glorious sunshine. Some from a class of two and some of a class of 22.

    However, we can be sure that they will all be judged equally at the final, and I would urge competitors to produce their horses as if they were going to be ridden by a judge – and let’s hope they will be.

    A time gone by

    When I was a teenager, I would visit the Great Yorkshire show and stand eagle-eyed, glued to the side of the ring, watching the likes of Tatlow, Toulson and Oliver performing their art. I remember thinking they were from a time gone by, yet they were right there in front of me.

    There were also the lovely broodmares and foals that the Rawdings family would present to perfection. The mares were stunning and the foals always seemed absolutely enormous to a 14-year-old me. It was here that my enthusiasm and passion was triggered.

    At 18, I bred my first foal and became a member of SHB(GB). At 24, I made it on to the judge’s panel. I was assessed by a wonderful man called Dick Saunders who gave me some great words of advice and I am grateful to him for so much.

    Now in my middle age, my last six years on the council has given me the opportunity to put something back into the society I hold so dear and which has given so much to so many over the decades. This society was founded in 1886 and has seen many changes and encountered challenges along the way, Covid-19 being the most recent.

    However, we are not alone and other societies are facing the same difficulties. And so, now is the time I ask myself, not “What can my society do for me?” but more “What can I do for my society?”

    Also published in H&H 11 March 2021

    You may also be interested in…