Rebecca Penny: where has the prize money gone? *H&H Plus*


  • Rebecca Penny asks why she has not received any prize money in showing this year – either in person or via bank transfer – despite large class sizes and reflects on the challenge she faced when judges requested “a show that demonstrated what your pony was bred to do”, asking “how on earth I was to emulate walking down a Scottish mountain carrying a stag in a flat sand arena in Lincolnshire?” with her Highland stallion. She also discusses how the coronavirus pandemic has affected buying and selling ponies...

    We’re now a couple of weeks into our second national lockdown and the realisation that we won’t be going on our annual pilgrimage to see Santa in the big city has really started to hit home.

    Olympia is the show I will personally miss the most, having been a regular for the best part of 20 years. The atmosphere there is one like no other. Still, after all these years, the build-up to the show, the camaraderie among competitors in the stables and trotting in all together for the final results in a jam-packed arena never fails to excite me. However, all was not lost.

    Despite not having our usual Olympia semi-finals at the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) Heritage championships, the society did a great job replacing these with individual best-of-breed classes, which were extremely well supported across the board. I am sure I speak on behalf of everyone when I say we were extremely grateful to LeMieux for continuing their generous sponsorship and offering beautiful prizes, including individual rugs for the top three in each class, which don’t come along all that often in showing.

    Something from the Heritage champs that did stick with me was a request from a number of judges for “a show that demonstrated what your pony was bred to do”. This is something slightly easier to demonstrate on some breeds than others. I have to admit that I sat in the line-up on my Highland stallion wondering how on earth I was to emulate walking down a Scottish mountain carrying a stag in a flat sand arena in Lincolnshire?

    Where’s the money?

    During the course of the year, people have gone above and beyond to facilitate ever-changing Government guidelines and have moved mountains to put on events so we can show safely. Those who managed it were duly rewarded with great entries, so why has not a single brown prize money envelope graced my jacket pockets all year?

    As a fully paid-up member of many societies and with the majority of entry fees remaining the same, I’m confused as to why prize money has been withheld across the board. Surely if it’s OK to hand out rosettes, then an envelope containing money is no different – or if deemed risky, then surely a bank transfer is a suitable solution?

    New ways to buy

    I have always been an impulse buyer when it comes to purchasing ponies. It doesn’t happen often but now and again, something will stop me in my tracks and I make a quick decision and snap it up over the phone, or jump in the car to go and view it before anyone else.

    Buying unseen can lead to problems, particularly for the less experienced, and everyone should exercise caution – there are cases of people being scammed out of money for animals that do not exist. Touch wood, I’ve been fairly lucky in my judgements so far.

    Due to restrictions, buying unseen seems to be becoming the new normal in 2020 and as an industry we’ve definitely had to change the way we buy and sell horses and ponies. The internet market has become like a game of fastest fingers first, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to buy a project pony that displays a bit of promise.

    I can only assume that the fact many people have more spare time is a definitive factor in this, but it’s great to see things still moving and hopefully the good trade shall continue.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 19 November

    ● Do you agree prize money should be awarded as usual despite Covid-19? Share your thoughts with us by writing to hhletters@futurenet.com

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