Stuart Hollings: It’s the horses who are being judged *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    Show secretaries who have not yet experienced the curse of the simple cardboard competitors’ numbers, ranging from 1 to 50, need to be aware.

    Some shows no longer give out this particular batch of back numbers when their classes involve a marks system. This is because stewards, working under extreme pressure, have sometimes mistakenly put the competitor’s number on the sheet instead of the designated score.

    I was sceptical at first when given the tip-off, until the following day when it happened in a qualifying class at my summer show. This is one good reason why judges should watch the steward write down their given mark to avoid any unpleasantness if an error is detected later.

    Another is because a steward may have misheard the judge — either on a windy day or because, as is often the case, the mark has been given in a whispered tone to avoid outsiders hearing.

    These scenarios highlight the important responsibilities, not only of the judge but also the steward, in today’s showing competitions.

    Number games

    I’m flabbergasted that some qualifying shows allocate only one back number to the rider instead of each individual horse.

    The equines, not the jockeys, are the ones being judged and therefore should be easily trackable on show day, particularly at qualifiers for the Royal International Horse Show and Horse of the Year Show.

    It may work at riding club level when riders are accumulating points during the season, but imagine if someone like Robert Walker has more than one horse in a class — which one has been shown? Those riders also occasionally show animals for other exhibitors outside their yards.

    Ironically, this is the very reason substitution entries are not allowed in showing, to avoid confusion. I believe “the powers that be” need to curtail this zany back-number practice, which is open to abuse, with immediate effect.


    Results alongside reports have made a popular return to the Horse & Hound pages. However, in my role as a roving reporter, it has sometimes been an absolute nightmare obtaining correctly spelt names.

    I never really stood a chance with one current intermediate worker: Akimobura V Weltevreden, which looks like a Countdown conundrum — sorry, Blackshaw family! However, it goes without saying that most of the problems stem from illegible handwriting on entry forms.

    But I’ve also come to the conclusion that some owners do not know how to spell their charges’ names properly. And why do others clearly enjoy embellishing them? Similarly, owner and rider names can be a headache, especially when they suddenly become double-barrelled!

    Never mind how do you solve a problem like Maria? Who knew there were so many variations with Claire and Vicky, and even Ann? And don’t get me started with Jacqui!

    Scribes and commentators alike will always come unstuck with some Welsh prefixes. Thank goodness no one breeds successful ponies in the well-known village on Anglesey named Llanfairpwllgwyn-yllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch!

    Ref Horse & Hound;7 June 2018