Simon Reynolds: ‘Showing is a hobby to be enjoyed, not endured’


  • Successful show horse producer Simon Reynolds flags up some changes as the showing season begins and recommends looking at your season as a whole when planning shows

    I write this column as the wind is howling and the rain lashing, after just recovering from the recent snow. It is hard to visualise emerging for the forthcoming show season, which seems to have flown round, and yet here we are with our diaries, planning ahead.

    There will be many changes this season. Deciding which societies to register your horse with has been a conundrum for many. With so many options available now on the route to the finals, it can be a minefield.

    My best piece of advice would be to look at the season as a whole. Ask yourself what your goals are, and then you can decipher which society offers you the most opportunity. All horse owners will be asking who provides the most value for money.

    I would advise people to ask pertinent questions on how your membership money is being spent – such as which society has a robust complaints procedure, doping policy and insurance set-up. Fairness and equality must be at the forefront now of each society, as more and more competitors are seeking transparency.

    I recently attended the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) northern luncheon, which was a wonderful afternoon, where the guest speaker was renowned dog judge and the voice of Crufts, Frank Kane. He made some excellent points, drawing on the similarities between dog and horse showing.

    Frank was passionate that fairness should prevail, and I wholeheartedly agreed with him. Societies rely on the membership, the paying clients, of which I am one. The members do have a voice and it is time that they were listened to more.

    I will continue to liaise with the competitors in my role on the BSHA board and as the vice president of the Irish Draught Horse Society (IDHS GB). My motives for being active in these roles are purely to bring about change and ensure fairness.

    There is no point in burying our heads in the sand here. There are problems in our sport, which need to be sorted out.

    Intermediate changes

    The big buzz in the pony world was the announcement from Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) that the intermediate show riding type classes would be amalgamated at the final, with the qualification places being decided from the championship.

    After digesting the decision, it is important that people take into account that while HOYS is a wonderful show to attend, there are also many other events where you can showcase your animal. The stakes will be high to qualify, but so they should be at such a prestigious event.

    My advice would be to train hard, pull out all the stops in your performances, but do not focus wholly on one goal. Instead, take advantage of the many county and championship shows, and value your day out. Compete at the shows that matter to you, whether that be your local show or a favourite venue.

    Being realistic prevents disappointment. Showing is a hobby to be enjoyed, not endured.

    One thing that I would urge all judges to remember is the purpose of the intermediate classes, which was to create a stepping stone from the ponies to the adult classes. I would like to see encouragement for a type of animal and a style of riding that is more fitting to the adult class to which these competitors aspire.

    Most of all, I would like to wish everybody good luck this season. I always look forward to seeing fresh faces and new combinations.

    ● What do you think about the changes to intermediate classes? Write to hhletters@futurenet.com including your name, nearest town and county, for the chance to have your views published in a future issue of Horse & Hound magazine

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 23 March

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