Katie Jerram-Hunnable: Does the summer showing calendar need a shake-up?


  • Katie Jerram-Hunnable reflects on the busy end of June period followed by a lull in proceedings ahead of Hickstead’s Royal International in late July

    THE last couple of weeks in June are always the busiest time of the year during the show season, as several major fixtures, including some of the biggest county shows, run during this period. Shows are held back to back – and some even overlap – during this week in the calendar, which is hard for everyone as we can only do so much with our animals.

    It’s a bit of a shame, as after this manic stretch finished on the weekend of 25-26 June, there is now a lull of around three weeks until mid-July. This busy period probably accounts for some of the dismal entries in Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifiers. While some shows have seen strong numbers, there have been a few qualifiers with ones and twos forward, which is shocking and unbelievable.

    I do sympathise with show organisers, though. They have run their shows in the same slot for many years and understandably would be reluctant to change it as they’re working towards the schedule of the harvest. They’re not just impacted by the equine classes either, they have other agricultural sections to consider.

    I’m not chasing qualifiers this year and, like many others, I’m choosing to support my great traditional local agricultural shows, such as Royal Norfolk and Kent County, whether they have qualifying opportunities or not. If we don’t work like this, these much-loved shows will collapse.

    There has been a running trend this year of shows reopening entries after the initial closing date to entice more competitors who might not have posted an entry earlier in the season for a number of reasons, such as a horse being not quite ready.

    Hickstead did this and the class numbers swelled. During the week I witnessed some of the best classes, both number- and quality-wise, that I’ve seen all year.

    Social media can help shows when they make the choice to reopen the entries until the catalogue is printed. It’s been a wise move for many shows and years ago it wouldn’t have been possible due to the fact the catalogue had to be sent off to the printer so far in advance. Some fixtures now also let us substitute entries. This all helps competitors, and the more shows oblige in this way, the better.

    Costs causing low numbers

    COMING back to low numbers, it’s obvious riders are picking and choosing their shows and that qualifiers aren’t the main focus anymore. It’s too expensive to put one horse on the lorry and travel miles for one class. It’s not only fuel, but bedding, feed and other outgoings associated with keeping horses have increased.

    Everything is going up, and these costs are passed onto horse owners. From a producer’s perspective, we consequently have to put our prices up as if we didn’t we’d be running at a loss. I hope we can all come through the other side.

    Enjoy every moment

    LOOKING ahead to the rest of the season, the 2022 Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) is just around the corner. It’s one of the most beautiful shows to ride at and the quality of animals makes for exceptional spectating. The rings are all lovely and the venue is super horse friendly.

    If you get the chance to ride in the main ring at Hickstead, enjoy every last moment as it’s one of the best rings in the world and provides you with the opportunity to show your horse off to its very best. The setting, the atmosphere, the size and the ground all contribute to making it a fantastic venue. Coming off that corner and galloping down the long side is a feeling which is second to none.

    I wish everyone the best of luck and I look forward to reading about the results.

    ● How have numbers been at your local show? Write to us at hhletters@futurenet.com to let us know.

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 7 July

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