Stuart Hollings: Malicious finger pointing *H&H subscribers*


  • The elephant in the room this season was the call for the remeasuring of two prominent 148cm show ponies just before the Royal International (RIHS) in July.

    The 2018 RIHS show pony champion, Moluccas Bengal Beauty, measured out nine days before the Hickstead final.Small-Land Dream Maker’s absence was also noted. However, Dream Maker did measure in the following week and went on to stand supreme show pony at the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) summer championships.

    This scenario conjures up more questions than answers. Were the objections made by an exhibitor, a judge, a society or a Joint Measurement Board (JMB) steward? It seems unlikely this information will be released, and so the objector will remain anonymous.

    I believe there must be a rule to allow objections to take place during the showing season, in extreme circumstances.

    On the other hand, should there also be an immunity period, similar to the football transfer window, before RIHS and the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) to stop a possible tactical move to derail the opposition by a rival competitor?

    It would also be healthier to return to the old days when the objector was out in the open. This would eradicate the false accusations and malicious finger pointing which have created a bad atmosphere in the second half of 2019.

    Weight watchers

    The debate on rider weight in pony ranks continued to make headlines this term. The Great Yorkshire Show has been unkindly dubbed “Weight Watchers week” since introducing a regulation in 2016 that anyone of an inappropriate size for their equine would be asked to dismount.

    This season Royal Windsor Horse Show pioneered its own rule that only children under 16 years of age could ride-in mini ponies 122cm or under, which was considered easier to monitor. Perhaps a height alternative should be thrown into the mix after I recently read a sign outside an all-day buffet eatery that stated children (5ft 4in and under) were only charged half the full price!

    On a lighter note, it always amuses me to see horse competitors at HOYS wearing their full regalia at silly o’clock, resembling a Hollywood film set. That said, was I the only person to instantly recognise Oli Hood, sporting top hat and tails, in last winter’s BBC costume drama Vanity Fair?

    And although an official of this year’s National Pony Society (NPS) Area 4 show assured me this had not been done intentionally, the Olympia judging duo of Mesdames Ann Bigley and Claire Smalley caused some merriment at the ring side, when guessing which type they would prefer!

    A bright future?

    The future of pony showing bodes well based on two of my 2019 judging experiences alone. At Royal Windsor, Lizzie Briant’s son Freddie, Robert Walker’s daughter Izzy and Simon Charlesworth’s son Jac all fared well in the leading-rein show hunter class.

    And the legendary Holly Of Spring’s great-granddaughter Rowden Holly Go Lightly was novice champion at the BSPS Championships, trumping her stablemate Stretcholt New Dimension, who went on to claim the riding pony championship at HOYS.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 31 October 2019