Rebecca Penny: Second-placed riders can be disrespectful and defeatist *H&H VIP

  • Opinion

    Tradition remains important in many areas of the equine world, especially in the show ring. Whether you’re competing at a local show or a major championship event, a certain level of respect, good manners and good sportsmanship is expected.

    It would be difficult to find a rider who didn’t agree with that, so why are many second-placed exhibitors deliberately not coming forward for championships? Not only is it disrespectful to judges and organisers, it’s defeatist.

    If you have an early-morning class and a championship is 12 hours later on a hot day, you might consider that it’s in your pony’s interest not to stay for it. The procedure in this case is to excuse yourself in the correct manner, by speaking to the judge or going to the secretary’s office — but I’ve seen eligible riders watching a championship held half an hour after their class rather than taking part.

    You shouldn’t assume that a class winner will always stand champion. A championship should be judged as a separate class and anything can happen. You’ve got to be in it to win it.

    Etiquette dictates that all riders eligible for championships or parades at county shows should make an official withdrawal if necessary. Disappearing or watching without doing so is bad manners. If no-shows meant forfeiting class prize money, would riders think twice?

    On the subject of manners, I’ve witnessed an increasing number of grooms come in to strip animals, then proceed to video their riders’ shows. Grooms should be unobtrusive, not cause a distraction.

    I know many judges don’t like this practice and in theory, a judge should be able to insist that all recordings are made from outside the ring. I appreciate that riders sometimes want a visual reference to gain feedback on their performance, but I don’t think that this is the way to go about it.

    Hairy dilemma

    While it’s great to see so many Dales, Fells and Highlands in mountain and moorland (M&M) working hunter classes, what do you do when their breed society rules say manes mustn’t be plaited? We’ve been having a go at some working hunter classes with my Fell pony, whose forelock obscures his vision on the way to a fence when left loose. Other breeds don’t have this problem, as their manes and forelocks are not left as long.

    We put the pony’s forelock into a single plait for the jumping phase, for safety reasons. It left us in a bit of a quandary, as the possibility was raised that by doing this we could be in breach of the M&M no-plaiting rule.

    The rules state that manes and tails must not be plaited. My personal interpretation is that the forelock is separate from the mane, so securing it with a single plait should be permissible. However, it seems that others may have a different take on it.

    I agree with fellow columnist Stuart Hollings that rules need to be set in stone and hope common sense also has a part to play.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 14 June 2018