Pammy Hutton: ‘Does our society not fear accusations of discrimination?’ [H&H VIP]

  • The horse world has always provided rich pickings for critics, especially of the armchair variety hiding behind computer screens.

    The latest row is about whether the poll should always be the highest point. Targets include a broad sweep of luminaries, from the Spanish Riding School to Valegro.

    Isolated pictures and short video clips are the usual evidence provided, while accompanying comments suggest that many of the most vitriolic critics are out of their depth at this level. How many have ridden or trained horses to international level?

    We’re all losing the plot if we forget that it’s the entire connection of the hindlegs, movement through the back and acceptance of the bridle that counts. Never mind what’s happening from the withers forward, what’s going on from the withers back is equally, if not more, important.

    Occasionally with muscular development, some horses’ crests can “grow”, causing the neck to appear level with the poll. But an overall picture of ease and harmony should override petty nit-picking.

    Let’s get real. Anyone can take all day floating round and getting the perfect outline, but competitive riders and the Spanish Riding School are required to ride with precision.

    Ironically enough, much pontification on the subject of poll height is to be found on forums with “classical” or “pure” in their titles. Yet nothing is more classical or pure than Valegro.

    Never again will we see anything as beautifully harmonious and correctly produced — by Carl Hester — as the partnership of Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro. Enjoy, watch and learn.

    Para politics

    I was shocked to hear that a top para rider cannot take the BHS PTT (preliminary teaching test) exam — the lowest rung on the instructor qualification ladder — because they don’t jump.

    That the BHS system doesn’t incorporate a route for those with a disability seems incomprehensible. Does our esteemed society not fear accusations of discrimination?

    This really does need looking into, although of course those affected can — and are — going down the UKCC (UK coaching certificate) path. And good luck to them.

    On another note of para politics, I’m amazed that our top squads don’t call on the likes of seasoned Paralympians Lee Pearson, Anne Dunham and Nicola Tustain for advice and inspiration. No one understands current competitors’ needs better than these multi-medallists.

    New partnership

    Our son Charlie’s and my horse Abira has retired from small tour Premier Leagues and internationals.

    But the good news is that H&H blogger Suzanna Hext is cementing her partnership with him, scoring 74% at their last competition.

    With three national titles, 11 British championships and five British junior and young rider team appearances at Europeans under his belt, we’re quietly aiming Abira towards Rio. Although this new combination has still not hit the selectors’ radar, watch out next month!

    Will streaming succeed?

    So popular was livestreaming over the internet from the winter championships that there’s talk of repeating the exercise from the nationals.

    It would almost certainly be a hit.We’re all so short of time these days — with wages pegged, having to work more hours to maintain the desired standard of living — that the chance to see the action without having to spend hours travelling has a certain appeal.

    So will livestreaming of big shows adversely affect ticket sales, attendance and thus the show’s atmosphere? Or will it achieve what we’ve always said we wanted — more people watching dressage?

    Ref: H&H 15 May, 2015