Simon Reynolds: Battling with a baffling system *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    The weather can be a blessing and a curse. We’ve had some glorious sunshine, which is great for barbecues, and for a sharp horse. On the downside, the ground has become terribly hard. It is such a shame that a lot of the permanent showgrounds don’t do more to combat this.

    The Great Yorkshire, Lincoln and Hickstead, to name a few, took measures a few years ago and installed all-weather working-in areas, which is a huge benefit to competitors and their horses. I was recently at a county show and found a bit of better going while working in, just to be told that we could only exercise in a specific collecting ring. The space they wanted us to ride on was as hard as Heathrow — it was appalling, and the main ring was not much better.

    I only ran one horse and pulled the other, as it was just not worth the risk. By investing in irrigation systems, or even throwing some sand down, shows would go a long way to improve our experience as competitors. Surely our extortionate entry fees and extra entrance ticket purchases should cover this?

    Ditch the lycra

    With the recent news stories of dogs dangerously trapped in hot cars and their owners being prosecuted, I have been amazed to see some competitors still travelling their horses in Lycra hoods and rugs in these sweltering temperatures. Luckily, my lorry is equipped with fans in the horse area and has lots of ventilation, but please remember to unload your horse regularly on a hot day to sponge them down. Find some shade. Offer them lots of drinking water and electrolytes.

    I also see people continuing to work their horses for hours and hours. Surely it’s common sense to at least halve your normal working-in time in this heat?

    Talking about being hot and bothered, a common gripe with competitors is the amount of time spent doing Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) entry forms. Grandstand Media has a great system — we are required to initially register each horse, owner and rider on their database with all of the key details, including passport information, microchip number, addresses and registration numbers, in order to receive a unique HOYS ID number.

    But what’s baffling is the need to manually input a whole A4 page of all this information every time we have to make an entry? Surely the HOYS ID number is all the information you need? Why is it different to the other entries, where a society registration number suffices?

    I had to laugh at one fellow competitor who rang me totally incensed at having to write continuously for about 15 minutes to make an entry. He said the last time he had written so much was during an exam at school.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 12 July 2018