Stuart Hollings: A work shrouded under secrecy *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    I recollect making a trip to the Alwalton showground some years ago, after being summoned to a meeting for professional producers by the British Show Pony Society.

    Chairman Joan Gibson discussed complaints received by the office relating to the conduct of some professionals at shows — one being that a well-known producer was often seen leading ponies into the ring beyond the entrance.

    We came away feeling like we had returned to our school desks and were back in detention. A tad offended, informal chats took place about forming a professionals association so that we would be in a stronger position to have a voice in showing.

    The idea, however, fizzled out like a damp firework for one important reason: no obvious leader with the right credentials came forward — one who commanded everyone’s respect and had the time to steer this ship in the right direction.

    It was like déjà vu, therefore, when I heard that a number of meetings had taken place over the winter by a group of professionals with a like-minded plan.

    Not all producers are professional

    There are definitely more professional producers on the circuit these days than when I rode in the ring (you could count all those talented people on two hands), as it seems to be a popular school-leaving career choice among pony riders.

    Consequently, perhaps there is an even stronger case for such an organisation to be formed, as sadly not all those producers act professionally.

    No information is available yet from the powers that be and the work in progress seems to be shrouded under a cloak of secrecy. I do hope that this new body will aim to maintain the high standards that pros are renowned for and educate the new kids on the block, particularly with regards to insurance requirements at work and on the road.

    I cannot stress how important it is to be adequately covered for the worst situations, in this age of “blame claim” culture. Clients can also play a role by making sure that their trainer is operating within the law. You wouldn’t go to an unqualified doctor or take your car to a cowboy mechanic, so why risk your child and expensive show animal?

    Working together

    Hopefully the organisation will not become elitist by creating a “them and us” scenario within the ranks, nor for that matter become a political faction undermining the governing bodies rather than working with them.

    I believe that the key to success is in placing the right person at the helm, and definitely a hands-on producer. One task that addresses a common complaint from professional yards is approaching shows that do not supply enough passes for the whole team in relation to their entries.

    It’s feeble when shows defend themselves by declaring the value of each ticket supplied. Competitors just want an entry pass without the benefits. They don’t have the time or inclination to amble around the showground shopping or watch the displays like members of the public.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 4 May 2017