Should more shows take responsibility?

Should more shows take responsibility for how competitors ride and train?

I was lucky enough to attend the Dublin Horse Show (2014) on the opening day. Lucky for two reasons I was not expecting:

  • Buck Brannaman
  • A lecture late in the afternoon, ‘Traditional Irish Sports Horse Breeding’.

Both were fascinating and well worth the €20 entrance fee alone without all the fantastic competition surrounding them. I had a look over the entry schedule prior to attending and was heartened to see this:

“In deference to this Code of Conduct, all equestrian performance at the Dublin Horse Show aspires to reflect best practice in the ethical training of all horses which compete in its Showgrounds. 

Accordingly:

At the Royal Dublin Society Show grounds, all horses in stables, at practice, in warm‐up and competition must exhibit positive and social behaviour that is the consequence of:

a. Freedom from hunger and thirst
b. Freedom from discomfort
c. Freedom from pain, injury and disease
d. Freedom to express normal behaviour
e. Freedom from fear and distress

It is necessary:

That the horse exhibits a quality of posture and performance that accurately reflects a systematic programme of training, appropriate to its age and peer standard in order that it may ultimately demonstrate its genetic potential. The criteria by which classical training is measured:

a. Relaxation
b. Rhythm
c. Contact
d. Straightness
e. Impulsion
f. Collection (Engagement)

Within these parameters, harmony in horsemanship and excellence in equestrian sport is best achieved”

I would like to see this as standard across all disciplines and levels, maybe then the importance of correctness and time would infiltrate what is becoming a ‘quick fix’ mind set in search of success and prizes.

No matter where the show competitors will be looking up to the seemingly more experienced & knowledgeable riders and their horses, it is here that the education process must start. A horse resembling a mobile tack shop at the same time as their rider is accessorised with whips and spurs is not sending a clear message out, less is most definitely more when it comes to restrictive equipment and straps which we inflict on our horses.

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