Rebecca Penny: ‘We need one set of rules for amateur and home-produced classes’


  • Rebecca Penny is a website designer and online marketing consultant who has won at HOYS and RIHS on various native breeds and lifted the M&M supreme in London in both 2015 and 2021.

    As the summer show season draws to a close, this is the perfect time to reflect on the year’s events. This season, we have witnessed several significant changes. Some have been incredibly exciting – for example, the developments in the world of amateur classes.

    Many showing societies have stepped up by offering a multitude of qualifying spots for prestigious events like Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and the London International Horse Show. While these initiatives have been largely well received and supported, they have not been without their fair share of eligibility hiccups.

    To pave the way for a smoother and more efficient future, it would be beneficial for all showing societies to come together during the winter months to establish a unified set of criteria for both home-produced and amateur classes. The current situation, where different rules apply to different societies and competitions, only serves to create unnecessary complexity and can lead to frustration for both exhibitors and show organisers alike.

    A glaring example of this complexity can be found in the case of the combination that had their British Skewbald and Piebald Association (BSPA) amateur championship win at the Royal International Horse Show removed. While this rider was ineligible to compete under BSPA rules, they remained eligible to compete as an amateur under the criteria set by other societies, such as The Showing Register. Such inconsistencies not only undermine the integrity of the sport, but also leave participants bewildered and disheartened. It’s so easy for competitors to make genuine mistakes when there are so many conflicting rules.

    “Unquestionably necessary”

    Another aspect of equestrian competition that warrants a more collaborative approach is dope testing. I echo the sentiments expressed by my fellow columnist Robert Walker who raised some excellent points and highlighted the importance of dope testing in our sport.

    While dope testing is unquestionably necessary, it is equally crucial that we continue to establish a standardised disciplinary procedure for positive test results. This consistency will not only uphold fairness, but also ensure transparency in the adjudication process and act as a deterrent for people. Presently, there are significant disparities in the fines and suspension durations being imposed.

    “A remarkable feat”

    Amid these discussions and concerns, the recent British Show Horse Association national championships provided a breath of fresh air by showcasing riders who raised the bar with their performances. The supremes were a thrilling experience, offering a departure from the normal formats of classes we are used to.

    One standout moment that left an indelible impression on me was the performance of the relatively young producer Elliee Stunt on board Howetown Holly’s Legacy. Her bold and outstanding performance in Saturday’s evening supreme left me in awe. She demonstrated that hard work truly pays off in this sport. Elliee’s remarkable feat, receiving straight 10/10 scores from all three judges, exemplifies the dedication and talent that our sport needs to thrive and evolve. It is such showmanship that has the power to generate excitement and buzz around the rings, attracting both seasoned enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

    I’d like to conclude by extending my best wishes to all those embarking on their journey to HOYS. If it’s your first time attending, don’t hesitate to seek assistance or guidance from those with more experience if needed.

    ● Are you riding at HOYS or in London for the first time? Write to hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and county, for the chance to have your views published in a future edition of Horse & Hound magazine

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 21 September, 2023

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