Showing is about performing, it’s about standing out from the crowd, it’s about that something special… But where do you draw the line? When does showmanship become circus tricks, when does standing out become a distraction?
I saw a Horse and Hound feature “7 incredible moments from 2015 showing season” – top of the list were two moments involving cobs. Firstly, Simon Charlesworth standing on top of Vicky Smith’s Fait Acobbli at the British Show Horse Association National Championships and secondly, Oliver Hood at the top of the famous Hickstead Derby bank onboard Sue Rawding’s Chaplin. Horse and Hound’s Aimi Clark describes both as “brilliant moments” but notably neither took the overall title. So these incredibly exciting moves just weren’t enough?
Whereas, in the Supreme at Hickstead in 2013, Simon Charlesworth took the Championship on Pearly King with a performance including a dismount, gallop and 2 time flying changes, beating Danielle Heath on Oathill Take the Biscuit who showed a fantastic gallop and then took a glass of champagne from the Members stand and toasted the judges.
Could you argue though that flying changes are crossing into the realms of dressage?
Is galloping a hack breaching the lines of class type?
Is dismounting technically against the rules for some societies?
Is standing on your horses back more pony club than Horse of the Year Show?
Should we encourage riders to drink and ride? And what if the ringside spectators are drinking cheap Cava rather than a nice cold glass of Pol Roger?
Well, I am definitely keen to encourage all of these moves (except the cheap Cava!) Showing is notoriously shamed for being a bad spectator sport so these moves certainly add to the excitement for the audiences. We should always encourage people to push themselves and do something a bit different to stand out. Pushing boundaries in performances is a way to improve the sport and also develops characters within the sport which is so important if you want to capture the imagination of the public. Plus taking risks mean we get priceless, memorable moments when they go right or wrong (mentioning no names!)
I am not saying a bad horse should win purely for doing something a bit different but I would say if the something different makes people smile then it certainly deserves an extra look.
What do you think? What have been your favourite moments?