Sending a message to the horse world


After a terribly busy weekend whizzing from one event to another, and trudging through an enormous pile of emails, I am ready to offer my thoughts on the issue that is on the lips of everyone in the equestrian world.

The answer is puce.

That is the colour of the coming equestrian season – retailers – be ready!

As has often be said, it doesn’t matter how bad you perform, as long as you look good doing it, and I predict we will be seeing a lot of green-stained puce out there in coming weeks.

But I digress.

During my weekend travels I visited one of the country’s national equestrian centres, in Canterbury, and watched the action and inaction at the South Island Dressage Championships.

In horse sport, safety for the rider and welfare of the horse is supposedly paramount, but my beady little eyes had a somewhat different view.  For one thing, it was a rather hot day and so many sweaty horses did not have sippy cups. And another thing, why don’t some riders have to wear crash helmets? Do they want to end up competing in the para divisions instead? Or experiencing the joys of the afterworld?

Dressage rider Shiwon Green and Gosh compete at GP level at the NI Dressage Champs at the weekend.
Dressage rider Shiwon Green and Gosh compete at GP level at the NI Dressage Champs at the weekend.

I did hear that a couple of northern riders donned skid lids for their grand prix tests, where top hats are de rigueur. Bravo for them. Our American friends have also recently introduced a raft of utterly confusing rules for dressage – get this:

“Effective March 1, 2011: For Dressage, anyone mounted on a horse must wear protective headgear except those riders age 18 and over while on horses that are competing only in FEI levels and tests at the Prix St. Georges level and above (including FEI Young Rider Tests, the USEF Developing Prix St. Georges Test and the USEF Brentina Cup Test).”

Read this and be amazed.

Why not just say: “Everyone must wear head protection”.

Would that not send a better message to, frankly everyone, that horse people have a bit of sense with regard to safety?

Speaking of paras, I am not sure if these are the bravest people in the world or the craziest. Many were turned into paras by horses yet there they were, strapped into their saddles and out there doing it still. How can it be safe to be velcro-ed into your saddle and have your leathers tied to your legs? All it would take is a couple of loose dogs to have a barney under even the quietest horse’s torso, and it would be all over Rover, so to speak.

At least there are no issues over protective head gear.

Also on my weekend travels I had the pleasure to visit the South Island Arabian Championships to watch some delightful horses doing their thing in hand and under saddle.

Given the safety issue, you might be interested to know that there were were six entries in the best presented purebred arab class. Three riders were wearing top hats, the other three safety helmets (of the show variety, of course). The three wearing the top hats filled the top three placings.

Do you think there is a message here?

Toodles darlings, until next time.

PS do let me know if you have even a glimpse of The Carrot. I’m still looking.

» More on rider safety

Felicity Foxhunter

If you have something juicy or concerning to share, do drop me a line - Never fear, your secrets are safe with me.

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