Pammy Hutton: The ‘Charlotte factor’ is dispiriting *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” goes the proverb. Indeed, wishing doesn’t always get you what you want, which makes me more determined to continue to shine a light where others often don’t.

    My top wish for 2019 is that our governing bodies listen and take action. The FEI by putting horses first, and British Dressage (BD) by taking note of the mood among members.

    How many more times does BD need to be told that the current system isn’t working? Also, too many members believe that anyone who’s been on a European, world or Olympic team shouldn’t compete below medium level.

    Fortunate as Britain is to have the superlative talent of Charlotte Dujardin competing among us, surely it’s time to be fair to the BD membership?

    Yes, the “Charlotte factor” is inspiring, but for many it’s downright dispiriting. Something has to change.

    A recent swell of discontent surrounds venue allocation. Please, BD, do be open-minded about where your shows can be held.

    There appears to be sufficient demand out there, yet many centres with super arenas, surfaces and lorry parking say it’s not easy to become viewed, let alone accepted, as a venue.

    Puzzling guidelines

    When it comes to equine safeguarding, I wish the FEI would listen more attentively. More changes are needed to the rules on noseband tightness and how it is measured. And what about introducing the much talked-about taper?

    A study has shown that loose nosebands cause lesions, but tight ones cause pain. The FEI now has an online form that can be filled in to report injuries; do dented nose cartilages count?

    And as for rollkur, or hyperflexion, stewards need revised guidelines. Currently one can ride with hyperflexion for 10 minutes and then, presumably, stop for a bit before resuming where they left off?

    Things have been much better lately in the warm-ups I’ve attended, but rollkur is still in existence, as sent to me in videos.

    Photographic evidence is insufficient because it’s dismissed as “a moment in time”. Some of the filmed incidents have caused threats of lawyers, so if you spot it, please report it to the stewards.

    Lost language

    Next on my wishlist is that the British Horse Society (BHS) would listen to members’ views. For example, many of us miss the acronyms and letters that were given to certain qualifications up until 2017 — they had become part of our language. The BHSI in particular really means something, not least to all those who spent years and thousands of pounds achieving it. But the BHSI is now known as the BHS Stage 5 or Level 5 — it reminds me of where I left my car in the multi-storey car park!

    Remember the fun

    Plenty of coaches tell us to leave no stone unturned, to have total dedication. But few remind us of the word “fun”.

    So that’s my resolution for 2019 — to learn to do it better, but never to lose sight of the fun and love to be had in what we do. I wish my readers a happy new year with success and dreams achieved with our wonderful partners — the horse.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 20 December 2018