Julie Templeton: ‘You don’t get second chances at HOYS’


  • H&H’s showing columnist and one of the country’s leading pony producers Julie Templeton explains why preparation is key to success at HOYS

    LIKE most showing yards across the country, we are well on with final preparations for the 2021 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS).

    While in general the weather has been kind to us so far, it’s always difficult to juggle ponies sweating in unusually high day temperatures with the drop to more autumnal conditions at night. I’m sure the ponies will be glad when it’s all over and they can be stripped of hoods and rugs and allowed to grow a natural woolly coat.

    Part of our normal preparation is to schedule HOYS “practices” at indoor venues to allow the children to practise in different environments so they are as prepared as they can be when they walk into the ring.

    In years gone by our HOYS practices were infamous; they were probably as much about the party afterwards as the daytime practising. However, I have adapted over the years into taking a slightly more scaled-back approach.

    While it’s great to give the children a taste of the atmosphere with the music and the clapping, we also don’t want the ponies to expect this kind of environment every time they go indoors.

    Over the past several years we have even chosen not to run some ponies at the championship shows in the classes that qualify for evening performances simply for that reason. Today, our HOYS practices are quieter affairs which hopefully allow the children to focus on what will be expected of them on the day.

    Please think before clapping

    I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with Katie Jerram-Hunnable’s column (26 August) regarding clapping after individual shows. This behaviour is completely disrespectful of the next child getting ready to go out and ride their show. Perhaps people think that if they cheer loudly it will influence the judge to give a higher mark than they were going to. However, as a judge myself I can categorically say that this would not be the case.

    The judges, especially at HOYS, have a lot to think about in that ring and a short space of time to make decisions that they are comfortable with. They will not be concentrating on anything other than the job in hand.

    I advise spectators to think before clapping and cheering; while you may be relieved that your combination has finished and gone well, the next child is waiting in the wings and doesn’t need any distractions.

    The ideal situation would be if the crowds were asked not to applaud until the lap of honour, however I appreciate this would be very difficult to manage. It might be better to suggest that during the final presentation the audience should be mindful if the cheering is disrupting exhibits and just tone it down slightly, especially in the mini classes where some of these children will be in the ring on their own for the first time.

    Do your homework

    ONE of the most important pieces of advice for first-timers would be to go to the ring and watch classes prior to theirs. The atmosphere in the arenas
    at HOYS is like no other and even the most laid-back individual can find themselves with nerves.

    Over the years so many of our children have regretfully come out of the ring and said, “I wish I could go back in and do it again”. You don’t get second chances and it’s 365 days until you may be lucky enough to have another go, so do your homework at home and acclimatise yourself at the show, so then all that is left is to enjoy the experience.

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in H&H magazine, on sale Thursday 7 October

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