Leading pony producer, trainer and judge, Julie Templeton, shares her concerns about the future of British Riding Pony breeding
I was very pleased to note that prior to this year’s Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) final, the organisers announced that the intermediate show riding type format used in 2023 would not be continuing next year.
This year, large and small show riding type qualifiers were judged separately, but only the combination who was section champion qualified for HOYS, whereas in previous years there were separate qualifiers for each height. I’m sure many are pleased with the decision to change, as I know this year’s format did deter many people from wanting to compete in the section.
It’s very positive that HOYS listened to competitor feedback and hopefully they will continue to do so when making decisions.
Now would be the perfect window of opportunity to slightly alter the show riding type classifications. Instead of having classes for small and large types, I believe it would be beneficial to have classes for hack and riding horse types, added to the existing show hunter class. Hopefully, this would encourage numbers back into the classes and perhaps make competitors more likely to venture into horse classes of the same type.
A change of pace
I had a very different HOYS experience this year as we had less involvement backstage than usual. I thoroughly enjoyed being a spectator and loved being able to watch the classes with no stress or expectations. HOYS is such a social event and it was great to catch up with horsey friends and chat with no time constraints, something I have never been able to do before.
Every year, I always make a point of watching the in-hand horse and pony championships, which are a wonderful showcase of the very best of world-renowned British breeding. In the pony section, I had connections with the Welsh section D stallion (Gwynfaes Seren Wledig) who won the class. However, my unbiased opinion was that he was absolutely outstanding on the day and thoroughly deserved his win.
However, it was a pity to see that there were only two plaited ponies through to this final. Unfortunately, it’s reflective of the current state of British Riding Pony breeding. Prior to HOYS, a WhatsApp group was set up involving a variety of people from showing to offer ideas as to how the breeding of British Riding Ponies can be encouraged and promoted.
As a breeder, I know how costly it is getting a pony to the ridden stage with so many factors determining whether or not they can succeed in the show ring. Height, temperament, conformation, movement and health all come into play.
Without thinking too much outside the box, a good starting point would be to protect the breeders we currently have by paying them a fair price for the time and effort they have put into breeding these animals. So, if in the coming months you are out shopping for your next youngster, please bear this in mind when you are about to make a “cheeky offer”. The breeders need protection or we won’t have a British Riding Pony to rejoice over in the future.
● Are you a British Riding Pony breeder who feels underappreciated? Write to us and let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, including your name, nearest town and county, for the chance to have your views published in a future edition of Horse & Hound magazine
- This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 19 October, 2023
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