Robert Walker: Societies need to be more proactive *H&H Plus*


  • During this period we’ve been using our spare time wisely. Some of the three-year-olds who would usually be started over winter are now being broken in. I have a feeling that the end of the year could be extremely busy with rescheduled shows, so it has been a welcome change to be working with the young horses in the nice weather.

    While showing is on pause, it has been promising to see our sales industry has not wavered. People still want to buy for the show ring, and horses are changing hands again now lockdown has been eased.

    Leading the way

    Show cancellations, large or small, are disappointing, but I started to realise early on that the county fixtures needed to be called off. These shows rely heavily on spectators coming through the gates, and as we don’t know how long social distancing will be in place, they can’t take the risk of remaining in the calendar.

    County shows have to prepare so far in advance and they have so much outlay before the show even starts.

    However, I do find it disappointing that shows run by equestrian centres are cancelling so far in advance. The fact they have decided to cancel instead of postpone goes to show that they perhaps aren’t in touch with competitors.

    The government is changing restrictions all the time so I really do appreciate the shows who are keeping us in the loop and suggesting alternative dates later in the year. I think some showing societies could have handled things differently.

    Our showing organisations have not been as proactive as those in the eventing, racing and showjumping worlds, who have done a good job at keeping competitors up to date with their plans and are looking ahead to the recommencement of fixtures.

    In fear of letting us all down or making the first move and being wrong, some of the show societies seem to have hidden away.

    It is promising to see the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) and the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) release statements in recent weeks, but in general societies need to take the lead and interact with their members more so we simply know what’s going on.

    No one is asking them to put their necks on the line, but some communication would be beneficial.

    This goes back to the point that there are possibly too many governing bodies in our sport, and no single one is laying down a plan. I have to register my horses with two societies to show which seems crazy in itself, but in recent weeks we have lacked a clear leadership.

    I do think some show season is still possible, even if it’s just a host of training shows held later in the term for novices to get some experience.

    The fate of the 2020 Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) is still in conversation, and if social distancing measures continue to improve I am hopeful of a show. I can see why they are holding off cancelling; imagine if restrictions continue to relax as they are doing. There is still hope that we could be at the NEC in October.

    New beginnings

    We can all be nostalgic at times, so when I heard about the end of Ponies Association (UK) (PUK) it brought up some fond memories for myself and my wife Sarah.

    While it is sad for any society to fall victim to financial struggles, I’m sure the new association formed under a different name will make a success of it, and those who have sought great enjoyment from PUK in the past will help it flourish once again.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 18 June 2020