Remember children won’t be ring-ready straight away, says Julie Templeton
LOCKDOWN, furlough and social distancing are three terms we would have never imagined becoming part of our normal, day-to-day vocabulary, and no one could have dreamt that getting our lives back to normality would depend on each of us receiving a vaccination. Fortunately, I fall into a certain age bracket so I have received my first dose of the Covid vaccine. Being needle phobic I was apprehensive about it, but it was painless.
Looking back over the past year, it’s strange how everyone has just adapted to the changes we’ve had to make and we have accepted the “new normal” way of life.
However, like everyone else in the industry, our yard has also had to adapt. We’ve never had to speak to our insurance company so often about what, as a business, we can and cannot legally do.
We wouldn’t have predicted that part of our new business plan would include booking the staff in for bi-weekly drive-through Covid tests, or adding hand sanitiser and masks to the list of items needed to be packed into the horsebox before a show.
Previously, we would have been devastated if our annual holiday had been cancelled, but after having multiple holidays, concerts and days out called off, we’ve just learnt to get on with it and make new plans.
As showing is opening up, we need to adopt a similar attitude to how the shows may run. Some shows have already been cancelled as they feel it’s not financially viable to run without revenue created from spectators and tradestands, while others have adapted to running a behind-closed-doors format. Some have even changed their dates to later in the year.
In all, I suspect that the showing calendar we’re all used to will look very different during 2021.
DOING YOUR BIT
WE all eagerly awaited The Showing Council’s updated blueprint as guidance for how showing could recommence. Once released, schedules started popping up online. However, an amendment made by the Government banning the use of indoor schools for longer has meant that changes are already needed.
Over the coming months we’re all going to need to be adaptable and face having our plans changed. Unlike our counterparts in dressage and showjumping who ride by a “one in, one out” policy, showing requires competitors to be in the same ring all at once. Hence, it makes life far harder for show organisers to put in place the lengthy restrictions imposed on them.
Competitors should adhere to all the new rules in order to keep everyone safe and allow our sport to keep running. If that means not bringing your extended family to watch or not staying on site to watch your friend’s class, then that is what must happen for the foreseeable future in order for us to be able to go showing.
WE shouldn’t underestimate how difficult it will be for some of the children and ponies to get back in the ring following lockdown.
Years ago I had a child on my team who had won Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) twice but she sustained an injury and ended up out of action all winter and for the beginning of the new season.
On her first outing back in the ring, she confidently announced she would go in first and then proceeded to enter the ring the wrong way. At the start of her show she clearly went blank and pulled off a completely different routine to the one we had planned.
She did end up winning the class and then promptly did the lap of honour on the wrong rein. I often tell that story as she epitomised being ring rusty. Much like they had to learn how to go back to school after a prolonged period of homeschooling, the children are going to have to do the same when it comes to getting back in the ring.
Practice at home is essential but this cannot equate to ring experience. Perhaps parents, trainers and judges should try to be mindful of this in those early shows. After all, the children don’t go into the ring to get it wrong intentionally.
This exclusive column is also available to read in this Thursday’s H&H magazine (8 April, 2021)
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Jo was also crowned side-saddle rider of the year in 1976 and 1977...