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Measuring investigation impacts on Horse of the Year Show

An unprecedented investigation into overheight ponies and horses is hitting the showing world with four Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifiers unable to compete.

So far this year, the Joint Measurement Board (JMB) has recalled 62 horses and ponies for remeasurement and word is that more are pending. Last year they called just 20.

The owners of 23 of these horses have chosen not to re-present their animals, leading to their height certificates becoming invalid.

Robin Bartolomy’s cob Clantara Shadow Play qualified at the East of England Show; Lynn Russell’s cob Deimos at Three Counties (news, 2 July); Gill Thompson’s show hunter pony Roseberry Serendipity won her ticket at the BSPS Winter Championships and Mike and Simone Cuddy’s show hunter pony Galtee Park won at Midland Counties.

But the two cobs and Roseberry Serendipity have not been re-presented for measurement. And the Cuddys’ pony has been remeasured at 156.70cm, when the height limit for the class is 153cm.

HOYS managing director Helena Pettit told H&H: “It is causing us problems and if there are a lot more competitors without valid JMB certificates before HOYS we will have to speak to the JMB and see what we can do.”

But she dismissed rumours that HOYS wanted the JMB to halt its investigation, saying the aim of rooting out overheight animals was more important than HOYS scheduling.

She said: “If horses are not able to remeasure for their class there was a problem with the certificate in the first place.”

The HOYS qualifications do not automatically pass to the next horse in line at the show as on the day of the qualification the horses had a valid certificate.

As a result of this process Mike Cuddy’s The Duke, who was second to Deimos at Three Counties, will like Galtee Park miss HOYS.

Mr Cuddy said he was considering taking legal action against the JMB.

He said: “The JMB are a professional governing body and should look closer to home. They are the ones who have employed these professional measurers and should be taken to task.”

He did not wish to say which JMB vet had measured his pony.

“It is very distressing not to be able to compete. It costs a lot of money to show horses,” he added.

But National Pony Society (NPS) chief executive Caroline Nokes says the problem of overheight ponies is “intolerable”.

Ponies called for remeasurement by the JMB have been found to be as much as 5.80cm taller than their certificates stated.

Two Connemaras that qualified for the NPS M&M working hunter pony championship at the Royal International on Friday were unable to compete as they measured out on the Wednesday.

Amy Bryan’s Ballinacrey Scarry remeasured at 148.80cm and C Cook and K Pitcher’s Coosh 149.90cm. The maximum height for this class is 148cm.

The JMB did not wish to comment on the remeasurements.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (30 July, ’09)

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