Robert Walker: It seems quite a backward system *H&H Plus*


  • H&H’s showing columnist on entry systems, class times and positive mindsets

    Showing is winding down towards the end of a very short 2020 season and at home we’re well on with preparing another batch of youngsters. This season, shows may have been clustered together in the latter part but it’s been great for clients who at least got to enjoy their horses and see them out and about a few times.

    Despite no Horse of the Year Show (HOYS), there were a couple of championship shows which felt as though we did get some sort of finale. The societies really did get themselves together and did the best they could given the restrictions.

    Some positives have definitely come out of this year, despite the horrific and uncertain situation. A few things that we probably should have considered as a sport prior to the pandemic have come to light. One of these things is class times. It’s been hugely beneficial to have a class and working-in time so you’re not kicking around waiting all day. While it’s probably a nightmare for the secretary, it does help the day run more smoothly in general.

    Another for me, as a producer, is the increased use of online entry systems. In the height of the season, entries can take up hours of time.

    HOYS ask that each horse has a separate form filled in for each show and they want so many details for each exhibit; they practically want to know what my horse had for tea the night before! We are given a HOYS ID number for each horse at the start of the season, so surely this number would be enough on an entry system to bring up the relevant details.

    This is not a criticism of HOYS; they introduced the forms to make the entry system more transparent but I do wonder if we need to provide the same information for each show of the season. Entries are currently a huge burden and this year has been a lot easier.

    I am the first to admit that I’m not very computer literate, but I’ve enjoyed the simplicity of entering online for the past few shows.

    The early closing dates, sometimes three or four months before the show, can also be frustrating. Most of the time we can’t be sure if an animal will be ready in that time and it’s annoying we can’t swap entries closer to the date should something happen. It seems quite a backward system.

    I know showjumpers, who tend to enter a few days before the fixture, do think we’re daft in showing so it’s been good that we’ve been able to move with the times a bit more.

    Working together in tough times

    There are already one or two shows that have looked at finances and cancelled for 2021. Even if this is before a prognosis on the Covid situation, I understand they have offices to run and staff on a payroll. But we do need to be forward thinking; this season has taught us, if anything, to be prepared. We need to think what we can do instead of focusing on what we can’t.

    If our major championships are cancelled again, could the societies not all get together and run a big show for their members? This year individuals and groups have shown us that we can run safe and successful showing shows in this new era.

    I was talking to Cheshire County show’s chief horse steward one morning when out with the hounds. This show is still determined to go ahead all being well. Even if social distancing is still as strict next July, the show has plans to host over possibly three days instead of two. After all, cancellations don’t just affect us as riders and producers; there are the rosette makers, the farriers and many other professionals.

    This year, some incredible people have made it work for us and it has proved that we can do it, and do it well. These people will be at the fore next year and it can only be good for our sport.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 22 October 2020