Simon Reynolds: Extreme and unsportsmanlike tactics *H&H VIP*

  • Congratulations to the British Show Horse Association on their national championships show. The atmosphere, as always, was incredible. Classes ran smoothly and it’s so much easier to have a scheduled time for each class. The evening performances catered for everyone and the scorecards for the supremes provided great viewing for spectators.

    This show allows you to showcase your animals before the finale of Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and the array of young and novice classes is great. It’s lovely to present your novices at championship level and I always think that this show is their HOYS, if you like.

    One of the best new additions was a first-season show horse class. A great idea and
    a real chance to get a horse out whom you may have been working quietly on, but wasn’t quite ready for a full class with a ride judge. As a producer, I do sometimes feel the pressure to get a young or backward horse to a show for an owner.

    One class I would like to see at the champs — and a lot of people seem to be interested in the idea — is an owners’ class. Many people have horses produced due to work commitments and, as a professional rides their horse in the season, they are prevented from entering an amateur class, of which there are many.

    It would be nice to give something back to these owners who are great supporters
    of the sport. How lovely for them to ride against other owners in the same position as them, and what a high-class field it would be. Of course they are eligible to ride in open classes, but many said they would feel intimidated.

    Looking forward to HOYS

    We are now in the countdown to HOYS and unfortunately I was sad to hear of people objecting to animals’ heights in the lead-up to this show.

    This seems to be a regular occurrence. Some are genuine and some are malicious to scupper the opposition. You are always going to have stiff competition at this level, and resorting to these tactics to thin out the classes is, I think, very extreme and unsportsmanlike.

    I do believe that an annual height certificate should be exactly that, to last a year and any objections should be acted on after the close of the season.

    A certificate, whether it be full or annual, should be upheld for the year. It is unfair to interrupt a season of showing.

    On the upside, if you are off to HOYS, congratulations and the best of luck. If you haven’t managed to qualify, try and look back to take the positives from your season and work hard this winter to make necessary improvements.

    My preparation will be much of the same, keeping the horses relaxed and ticking over with a few trips to an indoor school to acclimatise. The quandary of whether to clip or not before HOYS always arises. I would sooner clip if in doubt as there’s nothing worse than the mess of a horse’s coat breaking at the last minute.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 29 September 2016