Question and Answer Session with Penny Hollings

Penny Hollings is a highly respected producer, trainer and judge in the showing world. Many of you who follow our Facebook page will have seen we have been running a competition to put questions to her in our first expert Q and A session. We picked some of our favourites and Penny has very kindly answered them for us below. 
1. My horse is extremely lazy in a show ring, it’s got so bad that she just won’t go at all. She is a 16hh maxi cob and is definitely fit enough to cope with what I ask but she slops around looking bored and refusing to go forward properly. She isn’t over shown, in fact I’ve given up showing due to the simple fact that she just won’t go!! Is there anything I could do to make her more forward? I’ve tried hunting but she gets too strong and I can’t control her, she takes the reins out of your hands and charges off with her head down. Scary and no fun!! Thank you for any advice.
Hi I would think that she has core fitness/balance issues which cause her to feel blocked.  With horses like this I do very slow deep work with halts, rein backs and trickle trot. These three exercises open the top line and help the horse to work more efficiently.  I’ve had great success doing this with a variety of animals. Always ensure that both you and the horse are in a straight line, maybe get someone to video you.
2.Hi a question for Penny. I’m wanting to do an in hand with my mainly white Irish Draught x Cob who’s hogged what would be the preferred dress code for me and also for him?
Hi if he’s adult he should be in a double  or Pelham bridle with a thickish plain noseband and plain browband. Plain or laced reins and lip strap on the curb bit.You should wear a tweed jacket with dark coloured trousers short boots white shirt and tie to coordinate with the jacket. Your hair should be in a bun and wear a beagler hat. If you haven’t got one then your normal show hat will be fine. Brown gloves and a show cane complete the outfit.
3. Penny I know you are not a fan of gadgets and false aids, in your opinion which is the worst offender and why ??
Ha good question! I dislike quite a lot of things but my two main ones are side reins and three ring gags. Side reins generally restrict the animal’s shoulder and cause them to either over bend or get behind the contact and also get their tongue over the bit. It scares me when I see lead rein ponies being ridden in them. Accident waiting to happen! Three ring gags are designed to get the horse to back off. Again they will either come behind the bit and go hollow or over bend to escape the pressure.  It is impossible for the horse to take a proper contact in them so therefore are useless for schooling in
4. My daughter would like to show her pony (she is 8 and has never done any showing before) but she has black tack. Will she be marked down for the colour of her tack? Also will she be marked down for her saddle and bridle not matching?
Hi given that you’re just starting out and will be at riding club shows, then the colour of your tack shouldn’t matter in a show class. It would in best turned out. You’ll never lose marks for well fitting tack which suits your pony whatever level but obviously the smarter it looks then the more you enhance the picture.
5. We have a Section A pony. Is it correct to put on quarter marks for showing?
Easy question. No.
6. In a showing class, for example Riding Horse, what is the riding judge looking for? What is the conformation judge marking on?
The ride judge is looking for a forward balanced responsive  ride with free paces and a good gallop.The conformation judge is looking for good clean limbs, quality bone, good shoulder and hindleg and good length of rein. Also good type.
Thank you Penny, we really appreciate you taking the time to reply to everyone. Apologies to anyone whose question we couldn’t include this time. We will be running further sessions so please try again next time. We will announce the winner of the stirrup leathers on our Facebook page.
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