Julie Templeton: ‘Take your thoughts back to your wagon’


  • Leading pony producer and judge, Julie Templeton, on low class numbers, entry problems and judge bashing

    AS several of my fellow H&H columnists have mentioned this year, the numbers forward in classes at shows have been sporadic and even poor at times. But what’s caused this drastic drop in entry numbers? I feel we have too many shows running concurrently, which ultimately waters down the competition and leaves some shows unable to cover their costs.

    With a swamped show calendar throughout the season, the only way to try to boost numbers going forward is more careful distribution of the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) qualifiers. The allocation of these tickets should be looked at on both a date and geographical basis.

    My other concern is that we have very few new people coming into the sport of showing, and I ponder why. However, on a more positive note, at UK Ponies and Horses, we have seen an upsurge in amateur registrations this season. These class numbers are bigger than ever before. I cannot pinpoint why this distinct change has occurred, but perhaps it’s a result of people having their animals at home during lockdown and being encouraged to produce them from home themselves.

    Regardless of the reason, we are delighted to welcome true amateur riders and their animals to compete in our qualifiers and to provide
    them with the opportunity potentially to ride at the prestigious RIHS final at Hickstead later in the year.

    Infuriating entry systems

    A PERSONAL irritation of mine is the current entry systems adopted by many of the major shows. Why, in the age of technology when you can enter a show at the click of a button, do some shows still have a closing date several months before the date the show is set to run?

    Horse of the Year Show introduced the ID system – whereby you register yourself and your horse onto the system and you’re provided with a unique identification number – a few years ago, to make entering easier. Yet on entering a show the other day, I was asked to input each pony’s passport and microchip numbers as well as a five-year-old rider’s email address, instead of just inputting the ID numbers and basic information.

    The whole process is laborious and it seems unnecessary, especially when we spend time creating ID numbers for riders and ponies which supposedly provides all this information.

    “It’s appalling behaviour”

    FINALLY, I have heard some disturbing reports of judge intimidation recently, which is absolutely appalling behaviour. Without our professional judges, we would not have a sport in which to compete. They give up their time and expertise freely, and no matter how much you may personally disagree with their decisions, it is after all their opinion on that specific day.

    I have always had a policy that if I don’t agree with a certain judge’s decision, I take my thoughts back to the privacy of my own wagon and then make the decision over whether or not I wish to show under that individual again.

    Every member of the showing community, regardless of stature, should be treated with respect and a kindness that they would expect to receive back. I encourage all competitors to take this into consideration when they’re next at a show.

    • Have you had difficulty entering certain shows this year? Write to us at hhletters@futurenet.com to let us know your thoughts

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 2 June (NB: Delivery of subscriber copies may be delayed this week due to the effects of the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday on the postal service. We apologise in advance for any delays experienced by our subscribers.)

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