Julie Templeton: The best exhibit, not the safest *H&H VIP*

Opinion

We always thoroughly enjoy the county show circuit. However, this year we have seen some bizarre issues at different shows. Rather than name and shame individual shows, I’ve highlighted issues below. I would hope that the Showing Council could discuss these and others with the societies and the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations to find a solution that benefits all:

1. At one fixture, we went to the collecting ring to work in, as there was no designated working-in area. When we got there we were asked not to trot as it was “a collecting ring and not a working-in area”.

I asked where we were expected to work in and the steward said that most people had “just been cantering in and out of the horseboxes”. I couldn’t believe they thought it was acceptable to have children on ponies riding around moving vehicles in a car park simply because someone had overlooked designating a specific area. It was an accident waiting to happen.

2. At another, torrential rain fell during a huge class of mountain and moorland first riddens. Many grooms attempted to take jackets and rugs into the ring once the ponies had lined up and were stopped by the stewards and told that this was not allowed. Why on earth would you not want children and ponies to be kept warm and dry while waiting in the line-up?

3. We must address the adults on ponies weight issue, but only in the correct manner. I don’t oppose jockeys being asked to dismount if a qualified person using the 20% ratio so requests. However, adults at one county show were asked to dismount — even though they are clearly within the appropriate weight ratio for that height of pony — because they were too old for the pony’s respective class and weren’t riding those ponies in the ring.

A very lightweight adult who works for us was working in a 122cm pony. I briefed her beforehand that if anyone asked her to dismount she should offer to be weighed, but that they were not allowed to ask her to dismount by assessing how many wrinkles she had! Fortunately or unfortunately, she wasn’t singled out.

4. At a show with plenty of working-in space, a member of the show staff approached a girl lungeing a pony and claimed the pony was being lunged for too long. The person added that children’s ponies shouldn’t need that much working in and that if they were true children’s ponies we should be able to put the child straight on.

However, classes specify the best exhibit, not the safest. If ponies need to be lunged or worked in by an adult, that should be allowed to keep children safe inside and outside the ring.

5. As a team we entered 18 animals for one show and were sent one rider pass for each and only one horsebox pass. How could you transport 18 ponies on one wagon?

It’s also inappropriate that only the rider gets a showground pass when parents, connections and owners want to come along and a hefty entry fee has been paid.

Ref Horse & Hound; 8 August 2019