Top show horse producer Katie Jerram-Hunnable shares her thoughts on how to tackle what lies ahead in 2022
AS we commence 2022, there is a lot of familiar worry about the new Covid variant, and the world of equestrian sport is understandably uncertain about what lies ahead this year.
It’s a sad, scary time for everyone and the prospect of more lockdowns is on everyone’s mind. There are many questions which can’t be answered, but we must remember how successfully our societies and organisers managed to handle the 2021 season.
As a sport, we’ve shown how we can come together, cope and work with the restrictions put in place, instead of against them.
The most greatly affected part of showing was our much-loved county and agricultural shows. Many of these long-standing shows have been lost over the past two years, and while some adapted just to host equine classes, others couldn’t run and hoped that 2022 might be brighter for them.
If they’re forced to cancel for another year as a result of the pandemic, I wonder if they’ll be able to carry on at all.
Those which did run in 2021 were fantastic. They were very well run and I take my hat off to the organisers who were brave enough to put them on.
I took it upon myself to hold my own show for Sports Horse Breeding of Great Britain, for which I’m a council member.
We had a lot of support from competitors and sponsors, and I tried to make the show as fun and enjoyable as possible; another knock-on effect of the pandemic has been the lack of prize money, so riders are in effect going to an event for a rosette and a nice day out.
We have to remember that a lot of our novice horses have won no money this year, so they’ll still be eligible for novice classes next year, which will be a great opportunity for those animals which were so lightly shown.
Changes in judging format
THE judging format of horse classes was also greatly affected by Covid, with no ride judges being appointed for the Royal International qualifiers, and the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifiers only commencing later in the year once they were allowed. Will something similar happen during 2022? It will be interesting to see.
It’s easy to maintain social distancing in the conformation section, but ride judging requires the judge, the steward and the rider to be in the same area at once, which could go against rulings.
Evidence of the incredible people in our industry was visible in those who ran the London International Horse Show at the ExCeL in December. After the cancellation of Liverpool, the organisers found a home for the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) LeMieux supreme Heritage ridden championship, and our natives were able to have their end-of-season finale.
All who attended said it was a fantastic event. It lovely to see everyone enjoying the occasion and making the most of riding in the championship. A huge well done to organisers HPower, the BSPS, the ExCeL and the powers that be who put the show back on the road.
Moving with the times
ANOTHER thank you must go to Sandy Anderson and the Grandstand Media team, who ran HOYS and the Stoneleigh Horse Shows during the season. The addition of these shows to the calendar gave us the opportunity to compete for our HOYS tickets in a safe venue.
The shows were a great opportunity to give younger horses the experience of a busy ring and re-introduce our open rides to a show environment after a year off. It was a valuable experience, and hopefully these shows will continue.
As a sport, we need to take steps forward. Whatever happens, I wish everyone a very happy and healthy 2022.
● What are your hopes and goals for the 2022 showing season? Write to use at email@example.com
- This exclusive column is also available to read in H&H magazine, on sale Thursday 13 January
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