Simon Reynolds: ‘Bring back fairness, equality, and most of all, simplicity’


  • Show horse producer Simon Reynolds shares his views on too many shows and confusing rules that hinder the job

    Negotiating show dates, entry closing dates and timetables has become an increasingly difficult juggling act. It can be a logistical nightmare when so many shows are held on the same day. Perhaps this is part of the reason why class numbers are dwindling?

    My concern is that the increasing volume and frequency of shows and classes on offer is diluting the standard and prestige of county-level showing. We can all hark back to the good old days, but back then shows were scarcer, therefore the competition was stiffer and the overall standard of the animals was higher.

    Running a show is tough, and I can appreciate the logistical difficulties organisers face, but with numbers rapidly declining, perhaps they should re-evaluate. Maybe they could use a wider pool of judges, selecting alternative dates and timetables, and listening to competitor feedback.

    I have said this before, but without constructive feedback delivered in the right way, how can improvements be made?

    “Finding a solution is challenging”

    It’s a shame that some of the main societies have major shows that are directly clashing this year. The British Show Pony Society Summer Championships and the Sports Horse Breeding of Great Britain National Hunter Championships, for one example, are both holding Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifiers on the same day.

    Some judges have reported that they are not asked to judge, yet feedback from organisers is that some judges will not accept appointments. My suggestion would be for judges to provide their availability at the start of the season and give those dates to the show committees, so that a wider net can be cast to capture as much variety as possible.

    Another grumbling from members is the constraints of certain rules, particularly for the amateurs. Sadly, I fear this is a no-win situation at the moment. While some members have called for firmer rules, others are finding themselves restricted.

    I would love nothing more than for the rules to be simpler, but finding a solution that everyone can agree on is extremely challenging. While one rule may seem fair to one competitor, it can seem unjust to another. Overall, I just want to bring back some fairness, equality, and most of all, simplicity.

    Let the horses do the talking, so to speak, instead of being caught up in red tape. We spend so much time analysing rules and complicating the job – I am sure it never used to be this difficult!

    I often say to people, if you’re having to question and ask advice on whether you should be doing something, just ask yourself, is it right? Am I comfortable with this? Chances are, if you are having to convince yourself, you shouldn’t be doing it. There has to be some accountability from members.

    To preserve and promote

    On a positive note, the numbers in the new British Horse Feeds Irish Draught Royal International qualifiers have been very encouraging. These classes are often some of the largest at shows. I think the series is so popular because the Irish Draught is such a versatile animal that so many people can enjoy.

    These horses are renowned for their wonderful temperaments and it is so important to preserve and promote the breed, while future-proofing traditional bloodlines. The mix of professionals and amateurs competing together is wonderful to see too. I’d like to take this chance to say good luck to everybody taking part in this exciting final at Hickstead in July.

    As a close, I would like to pay tribute after two huge losses I suffered this week: the passing of my mum, Doris, who was my biggest supporter, and my maxi cob Correl Wood, whom we lost to colic. I will miss them terribly. God bless.

    ● How can show organisers fix the showing diary to keep potential clashes to a minimum? Let us know at hhletters@futurenet.com, including your name, nearest town and country, for the chance for your letter to appear in a forthcoming issue of the magazine

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 13 June

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