The British Show Pony Society (BSPS) is to ban the use of running gag bridoon bits from 1 January 2005 amid concern over their safety for use in the ring by children on ponies.

Ever since a picture of a pony in a running gag bridoon appeared in Horse & Hound last May, the bit has been under scrutiny at the BSPS.

“We have discussed it at council meetings and it’s unacceptable,” says vice-chairman Nigel Hollings. “We’re planning to put it in our rulebook next year. But it’s hard not to be a step behind: we will legislate against the gag, but what will they invent next year?”

The rules currently state that in novice, lead-rein and first ridden classes, ponies must be shown in “suitable snaffles”, and that judges will take into consideration a bit’s severity.

Julie Templeton, who produces Colbeach Salaman (the pony who was pictured wearing the running gag bridoon in H&H), says: “I’m very disappointed that the BSPS has done this. They’re missing the point of teaching children to have good hands. An eggbutt snaffle in bad hands is a bad bit.

You need to look at the pony and ask if he’s settled and comfy in his mouth, or if the child is hauling on the reins. When we first had this pony, he was boisterous and full of himself. But the minute we discovered this bit he was a different pony. This year, he has grown out of it.”

But professional show producers Carol and Simone Gilbert-Scott see the issue as one of safety.

Carol says: “When startled, a pony’s natural reaction is to shoot forward, and a child’s reaction is to clutch at it. With a double bridle, the curb can cause a pony to rear and fall over, but at least the snaffle is a ‘safety net’.

“With a running gag bridoon, the child doesn’t have anything to hold on to that won’t cause the pony to go over. We’ve been in showing a long time and have never considered the running gag a suitable bit.”

  • Read the full story in the current issue of Horse & Hound (27 May 04)

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