For the first time in its 183-year history, the Dorset County Show is making a significant addition to its line-up by hosting qualifier classes for the prestigious London International Horse Show. This collaboration between the Dorset County Show and renowned equestrian organisations such as the British Show Pony Society (BSPS), the British Show Horse Association (BSHA), and the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations (ASAO) aims to breathe new life into equestrian showing and attract a wider audience.
The series of qualifiers consists of 20 different classes that encompass a range of categories, including Hacks, Riding Horses, Coloured Ponies, and Cobs. The classes will provide opportunities for rising equestrian stars to showcase their skills and vie for a place in the finals at the esteemed London International Horse Show in December. With only 45 county and agricultural shows across the UK chosen to host these qualifying rounds, the Dorset County Show joins an exclusive group of events contributing to this new series.
Reaching a new audience
The collaboration with the BSPS, BSHA, and ASAO signifies a joint effort to revitalise equestrian Showing and increase the number of agricultural and county shows featuring equestrian classes. Over the past few years, these rural events have seen a decline in participation, making it crucial to introduce Showing to new audiences. By partnering with these organisations – that have a collective audience of over half a million – the series aims to really showcase equestrian Showing as a spectator sport to a far wider audience.
James Cox, the Show Organiser for the Dorset County Show, expressed his enthusiasm for hosting the qualifiers; ‘We’re thrilled to have been awarded the chance to host qualifiers for the London International Horse Show for rising equestrian stars. It’s wonderful to be able to bring this new element of one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious equine events to our historic show. Equestrian showing of this calibre promises to be exciting viewing for audiences of all ages.’
Nigel Hollings of the BSHA highlighted the importance of making the classes fun and accessible for everyone, whether or not they’re competing: ‘We’re determined to make them an enjoyable experience for competitors and the watching public alike. We’re requiring the commentators explain to the audience what the judges are looking for and why one horse or pony may win points over others. This will present Showing in a new light and make it much more accessible and entertaining.’
If you’re interested in participating, equine entries into the Dorset County Show are open until August 17th 2023.
The show itself is on September 2nd and 3rd. Adult tickets are currently available for £19, and children attend for free. For more information and to book tickets, visit dorsetcountyshow.co.uk.