Pammy Hutton: Please get your act together BHS *H&H VIP*

  • Why not make 2017 the year you ride in a dressage competition, even if it’s your first ever?

    It can be terrifying. As the nerves kick in, it’s easy to dream up excuses to cry off. The other day, I had to practically chase two students into the lorry – with a box of tissues to mop the tears. But it was all smiles afterwards.

    Competing is proof of your work. It’s fun and often a great learning experience. My own New Year’s resolution is to try to do another grand prix or two.

    Curbing the cost

    All I needed for Christmas was a riding hat. Mine has become useless for competing in by failing to meet the required standards, despite its near £900 price tag.

    Reluctant to repeat an expensive mistake, I looked at motorcycle options. Surely riding — especially dressage — can’t be as dangerous as that sport? Yet one can buy a full face, up-to-standard motorbike helmet for £30.

    I can still wear my top hat, but where’s the safety sense in that? I’m cross with the horsey hat-makers for charging a small fortune just because theirs come with bling. Maybe we should campaign for cycle helmets to be accepted for riding horses — then reach for the glitter?

    Piaffe before you pop

    “If you always ride, always ride,” I was told by a specialist when pregnant.

    “But for you, Pammy, the weekly shop is definitely out. You never do it, so you’re not used to carrying bags.”

    I was riding an hour before Pippa was born. For Charlie, I stopped three days before, but was at selection trials 10 days after.

    Changes for the better

    Regular readers will know that I’ve constantly badgered the British Horse Society (BHS) to champion British riding schools. Last year, at least I was listened to, but I have yet to see much happen.

    I wonder when the BHS pledge to “do something’” for riding schools will materialise. I am critical; but thanks to my background — my mother Molly Sivewright was BHS chairman of training and education — I’ve learnt a thing or two along the way.

    How can a candidate fail BHS Stage 2 for leaving a water bucket in a stable while tacking up? This was an international eventer — one of those that should be encouraged into the system. It’s a joke to have to remove a bucket when said horse is being watched.

    Another candidate relayed their answers when quizzed on studs and boots for cross-country day. I couldn’t understand their fail.

    For some examiners, each of the three available refresher days is a necessity. After all, every qualified person in any sphere has a professional development requirement.

    It was disappointing to follow a recent debate on social media as a centre was left off the BHS approved livery yard and accredited professional coaching lists for a second year. Discussion ensued as to whether the BHS is no longer as it was.

    I hear rumours of a huge relaunch, an eagerly awaited “new beginning”, “in July” I’m told, and with a new examination framework.

    Please get your act together, BHS. I’ve been personally promised better and the time has come… The BHS has a vital role — we need it to be something we can be proud of.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 5 January 2017