Stuart Hollings: a stroke of genius *H&H VIP*

  • Maybe I caught a glimpse of the future when attending the National Hunter Show on Staffordshire showground, incorporated within the showjumping Scope Festival. The idea was a stroke of genius, setting it apart from other showing society championships with its “Euro circuit” atmosphere.

    A show within a show is nothing new if my memory serves me right from competing on youngsters in handy pony classes at Ponies of Britain. But this was the first joint venture I’ve encountered on this scale. I’m convinced it will catch on in time, as costs in running shows of this calibre continue to escalate.

    There was some negativity towards the move north beforehand, but those who chose not to attend this time missed out on an excellent two days of competition, and the change to a weekend slot was well received.

    There were teething troubles — some spectators moaned about the lack of ringside seating, and on the first day there wasn’t an enclosed collecting ring for the hunter breeding classes, which is vital.

    There were probably more children around than ever before in the history of the Hunter Show and this gave me cause for concern. Although bicycles were banned, young children cycling around and even on foot seemed oblivious to the dangers of coming perilously close to youngstock being led to and from the rings. I suggest a health and safety notice should be issued by the organisers if the partnership builds on the success of this event in the future.

    Counting the cost

    A few days later at Bucks County, I was transported back in time when Stella Harries kindly gave me several copies of Horse & Hound in newspaper form from 1937-1940, to add to my collection.

    I’ve already read the issue dated Friday, 15 October 1937, which incidentally cost 3d (3p). A new Vincent two-horse box would have set you back £465 and in the Wokingham show report, the second 14.2hh show pony was shown by Master Maurice Tatlow — David’s eldest brother and Loraine Homer’s Uncle Maurice.

    The date for the 1938 National Pony Society (NPS) show to be held at the Royal Agricultural Hall in London on 4-5 March was announced, when some first-prize money would be increased to £15. This looks familiar — however I’m told that this is equivalent to over £900 in today’s valuation!

    Under the heading “Pony Heights and Children’s Ages”, minutes of the recent NPS meeting to establish rules on these issues were published. It must be remembered that the British Show Pony Society and Horse of the Year Show weren’t founded until 1949.

    After looking through more recent publications, can anyone tell me when the modern-day trend to present rosettes to riders/handlers, rather placing them on bridles, began?

    This was part of the judging process and occasionally prize-winning ponies and horses were dismissed, most notably at Wembley, for displaying bad manners when not accepting them.

    Has this change happened as we have become more safety-conscious or as the designs of coloured browbands have become more elaborate with built-in ornamental rosettes on the sides? If the latter, then what is the excuse for not doing so in all hunter-type classes sporting plain leather browbands? If you want proof — look at this year’s national hunter show report (3 September issue, p78).

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 17 September 2015