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Show judging talent of the future revealed

A new competition to encourage young candidates to judge mountain and moorland ponies took place at the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) Heritage Championships at Arena UK, near Grantham, Lincs.

Thirteen youngsters aged between 16 and 23 took part in the first ever BSPS M&M young judges competition, designed to identify and foster new judging talent.

The top two judges both came from Area 1A (Northumberland) with Jade Thompson — who had also won the young stewards award at the BSPS Winter Championships — taking the top spot. The runner-up was Charlotte Miller, with Lisa Crane in third.

“The ponies we had to assess were quite challenging,” said Jade. “We had our notes to refer to, but we had to think fast.”

The candidates were judged on their ability to identify correctly the breeds of M&M before them, their assessment of the ponies’ merits and their placings.

They were allowed to make notes and to refer to them when asked about their decisions by assessors later on.

The BSPS already runs a summer young judges contest, but this is the first competition specialising in the mountain and moorland breeds.

Nigel Hollings, chairman of the BSPS judges assessment committee, said: “We were delighted. These will definitely be the future judges of our mountain and moorland ponies — I can’t think of any better way to start their training.”

This year alone the BSPS council elected five former “young judge competitors” on to its senior judging panel, which proves how valuable and successful this competition is.

Assessors Sally Fluck and Joanne Griffin were pleased with the application all candidates showed.

“The standard was exceptional,” said Sally. “There was a lack of experience in some areas, such as losing concentration and not expressing themselves fully. But they were all very keen.”

See this week’s issue of Horse & Hound (5 November, ’09) for the Heritage Championships report

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (5 November, ’09)

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