We were lucky to have the opportunity to study the Burghley young event horse classes with the assistance of Nicola Baguley who has bred and ridden winners here. Firstly we studied the 5 year olds starting with the dressage where the marks are awarded with future potential in mind as a opposed to it being based totally on the performance on the day.
A discussion on the influence that the strength and maturity of the warmblood breed type versus the thoroughbred was provoked which linked in to the apparent dilution of the significance of the dressage mark due to the new coefficient.
Onto the jumping and the height and complexity of the 5 year olds class had caused several to withdraw. We weighed up the merits of introducing a young horse to such a big atmosphere to further its education with the potential risk of a negative experience and a loss of confidence. Nicola explained that a pole down was not to be considered detrimental as long as the horse learned from this and jumped further fences better as a result.
The conformation and trot up followed directly afterwards and it was surprising how several horses seemed unprepared for this. Although we couldn’t see in detail this section as it was the other side of the ring Nicola let us into a few trot up secrets to disguise some defects in action etc!
After this the top 10 were announced and brought back in to be viewed at the gallop by another judge who has not viewed any of the last 3 sections. This judge is looking for the WOW factor as Nicola kept reiterating this class is designed to pick out future champions not just a nice type.
Much discussion arose on who liked which (my chosen horse proved popular within our group and was pulled in last in this section!) This provoked discussion on how subjective the results are and then further the relevance of this class as a showcase for breeders and producers. Nicola highlighted the influence of having a known professional on board and also the importance of making the picture look right. ( ie having a petite rider on a small horse and a larger jockey on a taller and stronger type). All the marks from the dressage, jumping, conformation and the gallop are then added together to produce the final line up.
We delayed our wonderful lunch on the BHS stand to view the stallion parade in which Nicola rode her wonderful Connemara Glencarrig Dolphin. Much was informally discussed on horse type and breeding and it was a great opportunity to see some of the popular stallions standing in the north.
After lunch we viewed the 4 year old class and as expected the horses were weaker and greener but as Nicola pointed out they had had less time to be produced for the class and that perhaps a clearer view of natural potential could be seen at this age. This was perhaps a point I considered to be of significance.
Without doubt I think that we all as a group agreed that trainability was a priority above raw talent especially for riders of a more mature age!
Finally thank you Ruth Baxter for organising a wonderful and informative day, and of course also to Nicola for giving her valuable input and encouraging some lively discussion.
Report by Lisa Morris BHSI