The brave decision to relocate the 2005 Summer Championships was the most discussed subject at the Ponies Association (UK) AGM, held at Stilton.
Taking what has been described as the “equestrian holiday of the year” to the Newark and Notts Showground proved an unqualified success in August. A plea for more stewards for 2006 to help the overloaded team of volunteers has already gone out.
A daily flow of almost 500 cars and 200 horseboxes put a huge strain on marshals, and the hidden cost of parking, plus the board’s decision to reduce entry fees for the championships, were the main contributing factors to an overall reduction in income.
Treasurer Jane Scriven reported that expenditure, despite all the challenges of moving the championships, was held tightly in check for the year ending September 2005, and funds remain solid to take the association forward without impacting on quality or standards.
In addition to the new summer venue, the Winter Championships are relocating to Unex Towerlands (31 March-2 April). P(UK) hopes the two new locations will offer opportunities for growth.
The linking of training to accreditation and star status remains an exciting challenge that it is in its third year. Continuing to drive forward the initiatives were Lady Caroline Tyrell (training), Francis Sheffield (elite riders), Chris McGrann (elite trainers) and Steve Woods, who is establishing the Brown working hunter arena at Newark as a serious championship ring.
Regular meetings with other breed societies have resulted in compatibility of all rules, and a programme to benefit reciprocal championship qualifiers will be robustly debated for the future.
The ever-increasing cost of road travel for judges and stewards was another topic, and one suggestion was that cheap flights were an option for the society, which could use a courtesy coach to collect passengers from local airports.
However, the association is to slim down events and classes that are not cost-effective. Working hunters are most affected, but, in an effort to meet the threat of losing classes altogether, a newcomers’ Zenith series has been introduced — one ring, one judge and one fence height will allow all competitors to gain experience.
Officials still concerned about overweight animals were encouraged that, after a four-year promotion drive, many P(UK) judges were marking such exhibits down.
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