At the start of 2021 everyone was hopeful things would return to normal but as we enter 2022 there is still an air of doubt and uncertainty.

All show centres have been complying to Covid-19 rules with one-way systems, limited seating, drawn orders, masks and sticking to guidelines thoroughly. However, the restrictions haven’t affected competitor numbers, with everyone still keen to get out and about and keep a sense of normality.

Travel abroad hasn’t been quite as easy with Covid-19 and in the wake of Brexit, but a last minute decision saw Declan Irvine head off with James Smith to Oliva, Spain.

Taking with him the seven-year-old Fandango/Carambole gelding Kid Rock and the six-year-old Diamant De Semilly/Grandilot bay Destine To Be, Declan was seen collecting quite a few red tickets in the young horse classes from 1.15m to 1.3m.

The latter is now sold to American-based British rider, Amanda Derbyshire, but will remain with Declan to be produced further.

Declan and Richard Duncan have altered their business over the last coupe of years by focussing more on the breeding side. Their Brookfield Stud is now finding breeding and producing good horses, having already sold foals and youngsters to several professional riders.

One young lady to finish her year on a high was Emma Crawford who sampled the new London International Horse Show, which is now the new 'Olympia' having moved to the ExCel Arena.

Scottish senior points champion for the year, Emma didn’t look daunted by the occasion just rubbing one pole with her consistent Dukes of Hazzard to finish happily in sixth. The pair had qualified with a storming win at Keysoe in October.

Heading into the New Year, Emma has a lot to look forward to with two more than capable open horses and some good novices quietly learning their trade waiting in the wings.

Douglas Duffin returned from foreign shores and was busy coaching at a recent Morris show. He and Jordan Thompson are doing a good job producing some nice young horses for Bob Yeoman and Fiona Horne’s Tapitlaw Stud, but Douglas also has the impressively-bred Klein Stargette to ride for owners, Lesley and Vicky Tulloch.

One of the first by Nick Skelton’s Olympic ride Big Star, Stargette is out of the super mare, Soliegette, which Vicky competed frequently in Scotland before they headed further afield to tackle international classes. This horse may be small, but she feisty, making light work of a very busy Newcomers.

Originally based for years with Lesley McCulloch, at Roundhill Farm, Strathaven, Scott Blair has made the move to Allana and Mischa Irving’s yard to further his equine career.

Already showing talent, Scott took over Halvador from Mischa earlier in the year and has worked his way from 1m classes to jumping into the prizes every day at Aintree recently in 1.2m opens.

Morris EC’s New Year show had to be re-jigged when new guidelines were issued, but competitors flocked to the centre with some of the busiest classes seen all year.

Scotland has a depth of talent in horse and rider, but through the summer they all seem to head off in different directions. It was enjoyable to watch these good jockeys in action on home turf and see them tackle some bigger classes on offer.

Sandy McLean hardly goes a show without winning, so it was no surprise to see him go home with a truckload of red tickets. Showing style he produced the only clear in a National 1.4m with his mother Marjory’s Gino F. He also stood at the head of the line in a National 1.3/1.4m with Gravin Tina in a class full of talented riders.

Graham Babes and his family have been breeding and producing for years, with Graham now having a strong team of horses to choose from. He rode Glencoe into second but also filled fourth with Monks I Am Casall who went on to win another 1.3m.

Fergal Holohan is still jumping ponies but slotted into fifth with Kan Annie, ahead of James Smith and Mischa Irving.

Nicole Lockhead Anderson has made the decision to go it alone and set up a yard south of the Border after a spell with Graham and Holly Smith. She’ll have to wait until a broken collar bone picked up in a hunting fall heals, but meanwhile little sister, Crista, was seen doing well qualifying Emerald Irish Cruise for the Blue Chip Karma finishing sixth at Aintree.

Crista and her mum, Claire, have just returned from a short trip to Opglabeek, Belgium and Kronenberg, Holland where the 15-year-old Ricky Ricardo jumped some useful double clears in the 1.25m and 1.3m Young Riders sections.

Andrew Blackwood is currently sitting in first and second position in the senior Bronze League which is no surprise when his horses, Copper and Balhagarty Saber Lily won almost all the classes they entered at the New Year show.

Peebles-based Persia Bhatia has had a busy season eventing her own 14.2hh Molly XIII. They are sitting in seventh in the league but two more wins at Howe should keep their points tally up.

Lucy Stewart remains at the top of the Silver League with Glow DK winning a couple of 1.2ms but with Cancun having a break, Rachel Williamson’s wins with Jaytana may see the order changing.

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It’s always a bit of a shock to the system for the juniors to face the premier shows so early in the season, especially when some of the new pony-rider combinations are still getting to know each other. It was probably too early for some of the promising Scottish combinations to shine, with the major wins heading south of the Border this time.

Derbyshire’s Sophie Evans divides her time between horses and ponies having returned from two weeks in Oliva recently. Joining her team in November was the French pony, Vesdouz De Nestin, formerly ridden by Jeanne Hirel.

They have hit it off straight away, with wins at South View and Onley before arriving at Morris to win the Charles Britton Winter JA Classic going through to the third round, where they just rubbed one pole.

Slotting into second with the same score, but a slightly slower time was HOYS finalist, Ruby Barrs, on her long-term partner Faith X.

This was a swap-around from the previous day when Ruby and Faith jumped the only clear for the win with Sophie the fastest four on Vedouz for second.

Ruby swapped onto the more novice Conella II to collect her RIHS ticket in the Winter JC, but this time Scottish riders, Fergal Holohan, on Little Flexible and Anna Black, having one of her first outings with the scopey Moonman, gave chase for second and third, respectively.

Lucy Watson has her team of home-produced ponies back out after a short holiday, with Millparks Goldie and Corclough Tornado completing a one-two in a Foxhunter.

Madelaine Archibald jumped the only double clear to win a 1.2m at the last Morris junior show and was the highest placed Scottish rider in the winter JA classes all with the evergreen Bay Friend.

Michael McColm headed two classes on the coloured AG Dynamo as well as some minor placings at his first premier on 148cm.