Times are tough for British show centres. With so many riders at the Spanish and Portuguese tours, and at other European venues — who can blame them? — winter classic shows are left struggling for entries.
Many of the riders at Keysoe last weekend had horses who could be future international performers, but it breaks my heart to watch them jumping big fences, going clear and ending up with no prize money because there weren’t enough entries.
A winter tour
The days of the winter classics must be numbered. Instead, British Showjumping (BS) should encourage our own international tour.
We could follow the tried-and-tested European model of young horse competitions from Tuesday to Thursday and two- or even three star classes from Friday to Sunday, with a livestream to encourage potential buyers. World ranking classes would encourage more of our riders to stay at home and compete.
Of course, this would need financial support, perhaps from BS’s legacy fund.
I agree with Graham Fletcher that two-star shows abroad are sometimes a rat race. However, with the right course-builders, guaranteed prize money down the line, decent food, somewhere nice for owners to stay and good permanent stabling, a winter tour in Great Britain could be a winner. Centres could even include a second ring outdoors.
Too many rules
Another problem we have is that BS keeps changing the rules. Tack that is legal one day isn’t the next, riders are confused and officials have an impossible job. I have a friend who lives overseas and is an FEI steward. She says her role is to help riders as well as maintain the welfare of the horse. At the moment, however, too many rules mean “helping” has almost disappeared in Britain.
Now is the time to mend our sport. We’re all in it because we love it, so let’s work together to make it happen.
Ref Horse & Hound; 13 February 2020