Rebecca Penny: ‘Riders must utilise valuable forums to raise suggestions and concerns – not just vent on social media’


  • Native pony specialist Rebecca Penny shares her thoughts on why competitors should seize their opportunities to have their opinions heard through the right channels

    After enjoying a few weeks of welcome respite from competition after the Horse of the Year Show, the focus has shifted to preparations for the anticipated showing finals to be held at the 2023 London International Horse Show.

    With the inclusion of several new classes this year held by both the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) and the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) more competitors than usual will be contending with the elements to be London-ready.

    It is notoriously one of the most challenging shows to prepare for, especially for getting coats just right and keeping our qualified animals in work amid abundant mud, frozen arenas, taps, and the unpredictable British weather. Nevertheless, I eagerly anticipate witnessing how these new classes unfold across the week.

    The sections have provided more individuals than ever before the chance to compete at this event. Previously the show has only hosted the prestigious mountain and moorland (M&M) supreme ridden championship and the ever-popular Senior Showing and Dressage Ltd finals, both of which are exclusively for certain types, breeds or ages of animals, and are also notoriously difficult to qualify for.

    The extensive information provided to first-time attendees has been commendable, although logistically, the trip isn’t the simplest; getting into the centre of London in a horsebox takes some planning and a level head!

    The BSHA has thoughtfully arranged for a professional trainer to be available at the venue, aiding competitors as needed. This is a gesture that will be undoubtedly well-received and is sure to be beneficial in settling pre-class nerves.

    Stars of the show

    Speaking of professionals offering assistance, I find it fitting to highlight the recent success of the Show Teams And Rising Stars (STARS) Champion of Champions show held at Aintree International Equestrian Centre. Having spectated at STARS each year since its inception, I’ve witnessed a notable improvement in the overall standard of competition.

    What particularly stands out for me is the exceptional team of seasoned competitors who volunteer as ring stewards, going above and beyond to encourage participants over the four days of action. Their contributions significantly enhance the show’s success and atmosphere, exemplifying what can be achieved when dedicated individuals unite.

    Protecting the future of showing

    In recent weeks, many showing organisations have taken proactive steps to ensure members’ voices are heard. The Coloured Horse And Pony Society judges’ conference hosted a live debate with approximately 100 attendees. They addressed numerous sensitive topics crucial to the future-proofing of showing.

    The National Pony Society and the BSPS have both similarly held Zoom sessions for members to express their opinions, providing valuable forums for suggestions and concerns. Utilising these platforms is more proactive than venting on social media. Remember, negative posts to the masses do little to resolve problems. Instead, seizing the opportunity to voice ideas or concerns through the correct channels is crucial for positive change.

    On a final note, I wish everyone the best of luck in London, and to everyone else hunkering down for winter, have a happy Christmas and new year.

    ● How can societies proactively future-proof showing for the next generations? Let us know at hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and county, for the chance to have your thoughts 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 14 December, 2023

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