HOYS is like no other horse show you have ever attended. The NEC consists of vast acreages of tarmac car parks, huge exhibition halls and officious traffic controllers – all rather alien to the green fields of most equestrian events. Just arriving at the showground can be fraught with difficulty and extra time is needed for the journey and the arrival procedure.
Queuing starts well before the entrance to the horsebox park, and once there, all paperwork must be in order for the horse to be allowed in. It is heartbreaking to arrive, only to find that your horse’s vaccinations are incomplete, perhaps because of a lapsed date with a previous owner, and be turned away at the gate; this has happened. Then you need to find your allocated stable, which may be some way from the horsebox, get your horse settled in and collect the passes you will need to get to the arenas and back again.
There is plenty of walking to be done, as the arenas are a good 10 minute walk from the stable area. The timetable is strict and times are allocated for evening exercise and for the class. Miss your slot and you will not be allowed in, so don’t forget anything, such as your number, on your way to the ring. Check everything carefully and allow plenty of time to get you and your horse ready to present yourselves in a calm and relaxed state in the collecting ring. It is better to arrive 10 minutes early than to have to rush, upset the horse and be unable to give your best performance when you enter the arena.
The atmosphere in the arena is electric, another experience that can be unexpected. If all goes well, you may be required to return for a championship in the international arena and it is as well to check the turnout requirements should this happen as a top hat or white stock may be required. Coping with HOYS, while suffering the inevitable nerves, takes planning and the key is to allow plenty of time. This is a big occasion and you should enjoy the experience and remember that just qualifying and getting to the final is a great achievement. Having put on your best performance, dazzled the audience and caught the eye of the judge, it might just be your day, and when the lights are dimmed and all focus is on the winner in the spotlight for the lap of honour, it just could be you and everything will have been worthwhile!