A leading showing body has pushed through a controversial rule making safety headgear compulsory for all its members. It claims objections are based on “vanity and tradition”.
But in a further twist, the rule will not be enforced at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) or its qualifying classes.
Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain’s (SHB(GB)) council voted unanimously in favour last week (5 December), despite a wave of objections from members when it was proposed last month.
From January 2014, it will be compulsory for all competitors and judges in its hunter classes to wear a skull cap or hat with safety harness at all times while mounted.
Some leading members of the society are frustrated by the committee’s decision.
“It should be freedom of choice,” said producer Robert Walker. “SHB hasn’t really got an argument and they haven’t consulted their members.”
But Liz Morley, chair of the SHB(GB) showing committee, told H&H it was placing greater importance on protecting heads rather than “vanity”.
“We at Sport Horse Breeding see ourselves as the ‘senior service’ of the societies and as such feel we must take the lead on this important issue,” said Ms Morley.
“Charlotte Dujardin was a shining example to all when wearing her skull cap at the Olympics,” she added.
But HOYS — which has its own rules for hunter classes — has told H&H that it will not be introducing the rule, either at the show or for its qualifiers.
This will not be the case at shows such as Royal Bath and West, which already enforces a safety hat rule for the showground’s insurance purposes.
The British Show Horse Association (BSHA), which governs hack classes, also has no intention of following in SHB(GB)’s footsteps.
BSHA board member and former chairman Nigel Hollings said that implementing a safety headgear rule was not even “on the horizon”.