Rebecca Penny: how to stop collecting rings from resembling an assault course… *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    It’s time to tackle show entries — I’m sure many of you are becoming frustrated over how long it takes and the early closing dates many organisers impose. Most shows now offer, and even prefer, online entries. In pre-digital days, show secretaries had to undertake mountains of paperwork and allow extra time for postage. Thanks to technology, paperwork has been drastically reduced and shows that issue catalogues can turn them around in days — so why have timescales not kept pace with this?

    Entering online should be efficient and convenient for everyone. As an IT consultant, I’m pretty tech-savvy, but it can still take 25 minutes to enter one class. Having to repeat the process over and over becomes extremely tedious.

    However, some entry systems are a godsend. They allow registered users to be able to create and save a profile, meaning you don’t have to key in membership or horse ID numbers for every class and you can use this across various shows. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this became universal?

    Show websites and entry sections also need to be easier to navigate via mobile devices. Statistics show that since 2016, more than half of those browsing the internet used a handheld device rather than desktop access, but if you try to make entries via a smartphone you may well lose the will to live.

    In general, online entry systems need to become much more user-friendly. That would make life easier not just for exhibitors, but for organisers. We live in a digital world and it’s imperative that we don’t get left behind.

    Left to left

    As I write this, I’ve just come home from my first show of the season. It’s great to be back in the ring, but I came out of the collecting ring wondering if all my limbs were still intact. Whatever happened to collecting ring etiquette?

    I assumed that riders were still taught the common-sense guideline of riding left-hand to left-hand, but apparently not. I was riding a novice pony, and one rider cut me up three times. Third time around, I had to do an emergency handbrake turn, but when I asked her if she knew about riding left to left, she looked at me as if I was speaking in an alien tongue.

    Then there are the riders who pass you with two inches to spare — and if they’re carrying a schooling whip, tap your pony on the backside and seem oblivious to the fact that you’ve just done nought to 60mph in record time. Trainers who stand on the track to give pointers or make final touches are up there on my banned list, as are people who lunge in confined working-in areas — especially those who crack whips.

    So, let’s all ride left to left, lunge only in designated areas, keep off the track when not working, and remember not to gallop towards ponies with little riders. That way, collecting rings don’t turn into assault courses.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 22 March 2018