Julie Templeton: some might not like these rule changes, but I do *H&H Plus*


  • Julie Templeton on how jockeys bene t from changes in the show ring

    The new ruling introduced by the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) at the start of the year regarding compulsory body protectors for competitors in working hunter pony classes – both plaited and mountain and moorland – seems to have caused quite a stir.

    I can remember back to when chin straps were made compulsory and the outcry that caused at the time. However, now we don’t think twice about the children wearing bulky riding hats that would have been laughed off the showground 30 years ago.

    That decision was based on safety and protecting against deadly head injuries; the decision regarding back protectors has been made for similar reasons.

    Riding is a risky sport so minimising potential dangers and protecting against fatal injuries must remain a priority, especially for the children’s showing societies.

    Watching and waiting

    Interestingly, the other major announcement was that there will be no marks in all 2021 Royal International qualifiers and at the final, which is scheduled to go ahead at Hickstead later in the season.

    I am personally delighted with this change and it will be highly beneficial for my developing young riders.

    Last summer, we lost the mark system as shows ran under Covid-19 protocols. Rings ran smoothly and judges got the exact results they wanted. The children knew the class wasn’t over until the rosettes were presented. Usually, they think it’s all done once they have finished their individual shows and the mark is written down.

    We didn’t see bored children waiting for the class to end, but instead they were watching their fellow competitors riding their shows and rating them against their own. They had to ensure their ponies stood correctly in the line-up and be constantly on standby to see if the judge was looking at them.

    The final walk-round was reinstated and the children had to up their showmanship in order to be noticed. Some of our more modern competitors may say it is a step backwards. In a way it is a step back, but to a time where showing was a more positive experience. I’m excited to see the new format rolled out in practice this year.

    “It will get better”

    During the first lockdown, the weather was kind to us. People with horses and ponies had a purpose and we were able to enjoy the outdoors in the sunshine.

    However, as I write this column we currently have over two feet of snow at home – even if we were allowed to go out showing, we wouldn’t physically be able to get off the yard. It seems that many factors are making this third lockdown harsh.

    With the postponement of the early showing dates, it would be easy to think that the season ahead is doomed. However, we must all keep in mind that the weather will get better and the season will go ahead in some form; it’s just a question of when.

    In the interim, stay positive, stay safe and follow the guidelines so that we can all get back to the “new normal” sooner rather than later.

    Ref: 11 February 2021

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