Simon Reynolds: We shouldn’t be treated like second-class citizens *H&H VIP*

  • We have recently had Stoneleigh Horse Show teamed with the British Showjumping National Championships, and the Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain (SHB(GB)) National Hunter Show along with Scope Festival at Stafford. The vibe among competitors was one of excitement. There are improvements to be made, but I welcome these new shows.

    Teaming up with high profile jumping shows is a great idea. It allows for top-class venues, facilities, surfaces and indoor arenas for evening performances. This is all good, so long as the showing competitors aren’t treated as second-class citizens.

    There will always be teething problems with new fixtures, but I think both shows have been open to suggestions and improvements for next year.

    From speaking to fellow competitors, the main issues at Stoneleigh seemed to be that most people were expecting to show on the surfaces and it was disconnected from the main show, which created logistical problems as the stables were too far from the lorry park, plus there was a lack of atmosphere.

    There were a few timetable issues and one competitor, Justine Armstrong-Small, had to run from ring to ring. A new career in athletics may be on the cards for her!

    The potential for this show is enormous and it could be a fabulous replacement for the old Royal Show, which is greatly missed by the competitors. With the necessary tweaks, it could be a “must-do” show on the calendar. Well done, Grandstand Media.

    The SHB(GB) championship show at Stafford was well received, and I think there will be record entries next year. SHB(GB) has upped its game and the reports have been fabulous. Again, it could do with a few tweaks, but great strides have been taken. This is a much-needed lift for the society and it would be great for the sport horse to continue to grow and develop in a positive way for its members.

    Look after the owners

    One of my biggest gripes at county shows as a producer is the constant battle to have enough passes for ourselves, owners and grooms. More than a few times this year, my owners have been accosted at the gate and made to pay a small fortune to get in to see their horse compete, after they had already paid an expensive entry fee. It’s maddening. Quite often, we are the entertainment at these shows, where people pay to see us perform. If we are to encourage new owners and continued support of showing, things need to change.

    Good owners and sponsors, as with good horses, are hard to come by — if you have them, look after them.

    Something for everyone

    Good luck to those competing at the championship shows coming up. I always look forward to the British Show Horse Association (BSHA) National Championships at Addington. There’s something for everyone, Tim Price’s facilities are great and there’s always a relaxed atmosphere.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 3 September 2015