Katie Jerram-Hunnable on why youngsters are benefiting from a change
IT seemed like it was never going to happen but we’re back in the show ring, and it’s fantastic. Apart from having the chance to compete again, it’s wonderful to see friends and to see everyone so thankful. So far, I haven’t heard any complaints, so let’s hope it stays that way as we cautiously count our blessings.
We’ve been itching to get our young horses out, and had a great day at Lucinda Haines’ superbly organised British Show Pony Society Area 15A show held at Arena UK. Everything was done safely, but the four rings were close enough to make everything seem connected.
Judges and stewards did a great job and as far as I could see, everyone was sensible about social distancing and staying in their bubbles. The largest number of competitors in my classes was seven, but others had more. It’s such a great venue, as it’s accessible from the north and the south. So far, there seem to have been more shows organised in the north, but no doubt it will even out.
I was surprised that there were no entries in the Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) open class at Arena UK and just one forward in the novice section. I think some riders have been worried about putting entries in for fear shows wouldn’t go ahead, but I feel it’s brave of those who went ahead and organised them.
Hiring facilities is expensive and while I know some feel differently, my owners all said that they weren’t bothered whether prize money was offered. What mattered was a passion for our sport and just getting things up and running again.
THE BIG WIDE WORLD
THE novice horses had their eyes on stalks as they had to cope with so many things they hadn’t seen or heard before. In normal times, I would have been holding clinics and they would have been ridden around as an introduction, but obviously that couldn’t happen. However, we’re all in the same boat and as far as I could see, we all coped.
Riding a youngster who was a little green doing an individual show made me glad I was on board rather than a ride judge. There are some wonderful ride judges who give novice horses the positive approach and reassurance they need, but in these exceptional times I was pleased it was me who did the metaphorical hand-holding.
A few shows like this will be invaluable in giving novice horses mileage. You may ride them at home and find they are perfect every day, but you can’t simulate experiences such as being in the ring with four other rings nearby, so they have horses meeting them face to face – albeit at a safe distance.
Many people have had more time for their horses during lockdown. Hopefully, this has reinforced how much better the end result is when you take time and do things properly, rather than being tempted to take short cuts.
To everyone breathing a sigh of relief that their young horse behaved well at its first outing, enjoy the satisfaction but don’t rest on your laurels.
First shows can be a bit like first days out hunting. Everything is new, so the horse is kept occupied. On the next few outings, your horse may feel he knows what’s happening and it’s all rather exciting.
FINALLY, the many tributes paid to the Duke of Edinburgh highlighted his depth of knowledge in so many fields, from science and conservation to equestrianism.
His accomplishments as a whip are well documented and we must remember that horses show us what we are – they make no allowances for rank. Our sympathy goes to The Queen and to all those who loved him.
This exclusive column can also be read in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 29 April
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