Simon Reynolds: decisions shouldn’t be made behind closed doors *H&H Plus*


  • Simon Reynolds on why being flexible with rules is pivotal to the 2021 season

    Who could have thought that coronavirus would still be with us a year later? Currently, everyone is still learning to adapt to the new normal. Other elite sports have paved the way in proving that anything is possible and organisers have devised ingenious ways of allowing fixtures to run.

    Although showing is not classed as elite, it’s clear that the passion for our sport is still strong. While it has been encouraging for the societies to be planning a way forward, I would now like to see virtual meetings with members to discuss how we might progress.

    Often, the members are seen to be discussing issues on social media, which certainly has its downfalls.

    We need structured and regulated meetings, whereby the people who have paid their memberships can discuss what’s really important to them. Decisions are often made behind closed doors and can sometimes come as a bit of a shock when they’re made public.

    I’m a big believer in openly talking things through; it not only keeps everybody up to speed, but also allows for more considered judgements to be made. It also prevents the start of inevitable Chinese whispers. Ultimately, it’s the membership – the riders, professionals and owners – who these rules will impact the most.

    While I fully appreciate all of the hard work in the offices from those behind the scenes, we must not forget that it’s the bread-and-butter people who will have first-hand experience of the changes.

    Clarity and uniformity

    From a professional’s point of view, I’m aware of what my owners expect and what keeps them happy. I have never been behind the door in expressing my gratitude for all of the work that goes into making these shows a possibility and I’m willing to accept short-term changes if it means my business can continue safely and we can get out showing soon.

    The danger we have at the moment is that we have a lot of societies and independent show organisers, all with differing ideas. It would be great if
    they could all agree on some temporary measures for certain aspects of showing, such as ride judging, to keep everyone safe for affiliated shows. The ride judging debate continues to rumble on, especially on social media.

    Some societies are suggesting that they will not have ride judges in the near future, but are not ruling them out at the finals. It would be useful to have some clarity and uniformity. When it comes to qualifiers for the big championships such as Horse of the Year Show and the Royal International, there needs to be a level playing field for all competitors, so the horses can be well prepared to contend the finals safely and successfully.

    We need to put minds at rest, for example with a simple statement saying that any temporary measures introduced this year, such as no ride judges, will not be a rule change that will continue in the future in a post-Covid world.

    Nobody wants to see ride judging lost forever, but we have to be practical about what is deemed the lowest risk for now in order for shows to run.

    What I am encouraged by is seeing how the horse community is sticking together in difficult times. My owners have certainly stuck by me and it is clear that their love for showing extends beyond outings. One owner told me that having a horse produced was a great investment for the horse’s future.

    Ref: 18 February 2021

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