The battle against bashing showing judges online is being won — but bullying at showgrounds is continuing — according to the chairman of the British Show Horse Association (BSHA), Nigel Hollings.
Some sources have suggested that the economic climate has made “connections even more desperate to win”.
Several showing societies adopted a social media policy earlier this year, to clamp down on the rising trend of online bullying of judges and members.
Mr Hollings says it appears to be working.
“We’re very strict with the new ruling on social media and it’s made a huge difference,” he told H&H.
“Societies are cracking down and we’re seeing fewer complaints on the likes of Facebook.”
But Nigel’s brother, H&H columnist Stuart Hollings, said that the problem is persisting at shows — and he believes it has been exacerbated by the downturn.
“Perhaps it’s coming out physically because we’ve stopped it on social media,” he said.
“It’s not a new problem — we’ve lost judges on the panel because of it — but perhaps it’s nastier now that money’s tighter. People need to put value on their pony.”
Stuart Hollings believes that if intimidation is seen to work, people will keep behaving in this way.
“If a judge is consistently approached like this, they must be giving out the impression that they can be bullied.
“Perhaps we need tougher interviews for new judges so that they can develop stronger tactics,” he suggested.
H&H showing reporter Tricia Johnson witnessed two incidents of intimidation at the Suffolk Show.
A connection stormed into the ring to accost the judge and was restrained by stewards — but later attempted to “psych” the judge out by standing in their eye line.
Nigel Hollings attended the show, but heard nothing about the incident. He is encouraging judges to report such problems.
“Judges have to have the guts to report, otherwise the societies can’t do anything about it,” he said.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (4 July 2013)