Ruth Baxter’s Letter to H&H

Ruth Baxter wrote a letter to Horse & Hound which was published in the 23rd Jan 2020 edition. As the letter was edited by H&H and now makes far less sense to those who were at the F&I convention, it was suggested that Ruth should send the unedited version out. Please find it below:

“Dear Editor,

Last weeks training feature included a quote from me about how the BHS education system had provided a path when academia did not suit. I started on that path at 16 (then the earliest age you could take the exams) as a riding school assistant with a passion. In the last 18 years I have worked my way up the levels, achieving the Stage 5 qualification (BHSI) in 2016. Since qualifying, I am able to attend the Fellows and Instructors Association annual course, this year’s being held last week at the revamped Addington Equestrian Centre. A fantastic gathering of over 100 BHSI and FBHS’s, studying and engaging with lessons given by Adam Kemp FBHS and Corrine Bracken UKCC4 to the likes of Pammy Hutton and Nick Gauntlett. Whether we were prospective Olympians, or ex riding school assistants who had fought their way up the ranks, we were all welcomed, involved and educated. All brought together by the BHS education system. To anyone out there wondering whether the system is for them, the opportunities can be well worthwhile.

Ruth Baxter”

Minutes of the AGM 2020

Held on Tuesday 7th January 2020 at 7.00pm

At Addington Manor Equestrian Centre, Bucks by kind permission of Chris Parker

1.  Welcome address by Jillie Rogers BHSI – Chairman.

All were warmly welcomed to this packed AGM – held downstairs in the café for the first time.  Thank you to Addington for hosting us, and Ann for organising. Both brilliant.

2.  Attendance and Apologies for Absence (Committee members in bold)

Present:  Jillie Rogers, Ann Bostock, Alison Craig, Debbie Follett, David Sheerin, Mandy Luesley, Amy Bannister-Bell, Danny Anholt via Messenger, Nicole Biggs, Ann Peate, Faith Ponsonby, Mandy Chaffin, Judith Murphy, Gemma Porter-Rawlings, Ruth Baxter, Amanda Holloway, Charlotte Tarrant, Katie Partrick, Brendan Bergin, Sarah Stewart, Kirsten Owen, Sarah Fitton, Hetta Wilkinson, Julian Campbell, Maggie Doel, Jeremy Michaels, Jen Burnett, Richard Johnston-Smith, Jennifer Ham, Sue Pimbley, Becky Johnson, Beth Boyes, Nick Gauntlett, Mark Robinson, Sophie Cox, Ernest Dillon, Sue Payne, Sarah MacDonald, Elizabeth Allen, Clare Chamberlayne, Lisa Morris, Sarah Thorne, Oonagh Meyer, Debbie Melville, Sabrina Jones, Jayne Smart, Lizzel Winter, Hilary Westropp, Sam Champney Warrener, Cherry Elvin, Nicola Greenhalgh-Brook, Annette Philpot, Annette Christey, Philly Muir, Helen Martin, Alex Hulme, Lyndsay Gammon, Ellie Halsey, Jo Chilcott, Alex Wyatt-Hughes, Alice Bannister-Bell, Sally Jackson, Melissa Troup, Dan Spencer, Wendy Suddes, Liz Eaton, Simon Somers, William Blane, Tessa Ryley, Alec Miles, Kylie Roddy, Kirsty Fontaine-Henley, Victoria Gallantree, Karen Winston, David Llewellyn, Anne-Marie Taylor, Carol Bennitt, Becky Cooper, Linda de Matteo, Eric Horgan, Micheline Horgan, Jenny Ward, Margie Craib, Islay Auty, Biddy Brasted Watts, Nikki Herbert, Eric Smiley.

Apologies:  Sam York, Tessa Martin-Bird, Fred Hodges, Candice Williams, Elspeth Watson, Victoria Hayton, Clare Sansom, Sally Newcomb, Joanna Potterton, Nick Turner, Gill Watson, Tim Downes, Grainne Sugars, Sue Ricketts, Sue Charters, Sandra Morrison, Liz Taylor, Erik McKechnie, Linda Pearce, Catherine Shine, Caroline Moon, Jo Winfield, Caro Haynes, Carole Broad, Caroline Stevenson, Cheryl Bezants, Donn Collins, Wendy Summers.  Danny Anholt – complete with ode read by Jillie.

3.  Minutes of last AGM (held 8th January 2019 at Addington Manor)

3.1 The minutes were approved as a correct record.

4.  Matters Arising from those Minutes

4.1 Following the meeting last year, the F&I “coaches” page in the British Horse magazine was successfully reinstated (JR, with help from the BHS team).  It slipped off again for the December issue following a magazine revamp – JR will pursue again.  Danny Anholt and Faith Ponsonby both writing articles for forthcoming issues.  More contributions welcomed.

5.  Chairman’s Review for the Year 2019   

5.1   Thank yous to this course’s Study Group leaders, to our Regional Reps (Ireland Faith Ponsonby, Scotland Jen Burnett, North Sue Ricketts, South West Danny Anholt, South East Mandy Luesley), and to the Committee members.

5.2  Special thankyous to departing Committee – David Sheerin and Debbie Follett. 

5.3  Welcome to the nominated replacement Committee members Oonagh Meyer and Jude Murphy (see Election of Committee below)

5.4  See attached “Review for the Year 2019” by Jillie Rogers.

6.  Treasurer’s Report for the Year 2019   

6.1  Debbie Follett summarised the training days held and the profit generated in the year of £1,520 – big thanks to those generously providing facilities free. 

6.2  We now have 210 members in total – an encouraging increase.  End of year cash balance now £20k. The financial summary was distributed – attached here.

6.3  Notable increase in events run that also generated a charitable donation to the horse industry – welcomed by all.

7.  Election of Committee for 2020

7.1 As outlined in the “planning for the AGM” document sent out to all members last year, David Sheerin and Debbie Follett both sadly stood down at this meeting.  Nominations for their successors were sought, and Jude Murphy was nominated by Faith Ponsonby and seconded by Brendan Bergin, and Oonagh Meyer was nominated by Sam Champney Warrener and seconded by Debbie Melville.  Both were warmly welcomed by all.

8.  Any Other Business

8.1  Questions have been circulating in recent months about the industry moving on, which have implications for possible changes to our membership criteria.

Firstly, the strength of the International Group for Equestrian Qualifications (IGEQ) which defines the “International Level 3” qualification – which is of course based upon our own BHSI syllabus originally.  We have now had two approaches for F&I membership under this international equivalency.  Do we admit them?  And if so, how?  It seems we should, but currently our Constitution technically doesn’t allow us to.

Secondly, the launch of the BHS Pathways Stage 5 due later this year 2020 will create Stage 5 “discipline specialists”.  Are we going to be able to admit these Stage 5 discipline specialists to F&I membership?  Again, currently our Constitution doesn’t mention a Stage 5, let alone a discipline specific one…

Both these questions raise a number of issues – of which the factual components need to be established first, in terms of actual equivalency, rigour of the exam processes, etc etc. 

Thirdly, our Constitution is already out of date in its current wording, including missing out details of our recently added Awards (Achievement, and Tom Searle).

The Chair and Committee propose that a Working Party look at both issues, consult widely, and by the autumn 2020 come up with a proposal for how the F&I Association responds to these developments and thus creates a broader and more inclusive Association.

At the end of that process the changes to the Constitution will be proposed and put to the full F&I membership with a minimum of 30 days’ notice prior to the January 2021 AGM.

This was agreed by all present as a sensible way forward.

All assistance with the Working Party’s deliberations welcomed in due course! 

8.2 To Sam Champney Warrener – thank you for running the closed Facebook page so well for us.

To Sally Newcomb – thank you for running the website so well for us.

8.3 From Chris Parker (Addington) and Ann Bostock – stabling for the Addington course next year (5/6 January 2021) must be booked and paid for by 1st January.

9.  Remembrance

All present were invited to stand to remember Dorothy Johnson – not an F&I member but many may remember her.  She died in June 2019 aged 96, having retired aged 88.  And Clarissa Dawson, one of our stalwart members who died in March 2019 after a brave battle with cancer.  Donn Collins read the eulogy at Clarissa’s funeral and F&I were represented on the day.

10. Presentation of Awards

Upstairs over dinner, between courses…  and there were 91 of us for dinner!

Tom Searle award – Brendan Bergin

Achievement Award – Ann Bostock

Pat Smallwood Award – David Sheerin

The cheers and standing ovations went on and on…  What an outstanding evening all round.

11. Date of next AGM

Tuesday 5 January 2021, at Addington, 7pm. 

Posted in AGM

F&I Annual Course Report

January 2020, Addington.

What an inspiring two days. Corinne Bracken and Adam Kemp complemented each other, both in their methodology and in their delivery. For two days we felt totally torn between which coach to watch! The discussion section held on Tuesday was a brilliant idea and gave us a good insight to both coaches’ philosophy and experience.

Overwhelmingly they spoke with a combination of common sense and passion. The discussion was fantastic – we all could have listened to them talk for hours. It was both refreshing and reassuring to hear two exceptional coaches discuss with vehemence how the welfare of the horse must be at the forefront of all training and not trying to sell their ‘way’ as being right. Adam discussed how the dressage horse isn’t able to ‘see’ what was coming, whereas the showjumper could see, and explained how this influenced coaching. Both were supportive of basic training, and spoke about how today’s rider seemed to miss out on ‘Horsemanship’ and were often unable to handle their horses on the ground, and were competing in some areas above their capability. They said that many riders could benefit from thinking like the horse, understanding why their horses would react or shy, for example.

Corinne used circles and 90 degree turns, ‘pole gym’ and guide rails during the warm up stage of each session, regardless of experience, improving stability and rideability and a favourite of ours, riding in between the oxers, or bounce fences before jumping them, which encourage riders to hold their position and leg aid, to help straightness.

The use of a smaller fences towards the end of the arena, was explained. Encouraging the horse to ‘energise’ the canter by engaging the hind leg, with a caveat, that with a tired horse it would kill the canter. Corinne explained the use of plenty of oxers, being the only obstacle to truly work to horse’s core muscles, improving technique.

And how refreshing to hear plenty of humour in the sessions. So many quotes we remembered, because the delivery was fun.
Corinne – “you can’t collect a crooked horse, collection only happens with energy, you can only go fast or slow if they are crooked, but remember in the scales of training, what comes before collection?………. Absolutely Everything.”

“Never underestimate the size of the fence in training, big fences are often used for lack of technique” “Always striving for ‘Rideability’” “Often the more you chase the horse, the more they’ll back off.”

Adam’s analogies of our sport – “You wouldn’t make the tennis racket and then learn the game, or build the Formula 1 car or a Sailing boat and compete when they aren’t quite finished.”

Leg into hand – “There’s no such thing as a one-armed accordion player” and “use your legs before you do it, not after you’ve messed up”.
Adam spoke about how we use language to get to the correct understanding; for example, in the Piaffe work, he would describe the movement being ‘in place’ rather than ‘on the spot’.

He used a whole range of exercises to work and improve each horse and rider – and explained that the Grand Prix test was the best example of asking for “On and Back” throughout an entire test.

There are mountains of notes that we took, too many to mention, but from a spectator’s point of view, it was good to witness progression and horses with a varied experience and ability. Corinne & Adam were both superb at relaying information and including spectators and study groups in each session.

Both coaches appreciated being able to work with knowledgeable and able riders and spectators on these two days too – they both said they really enjoyed it! Next year’s coaches have a tough act to follow. But we are all enthused and are very much looking forward to next year’s Annual Course.

Report by:
Kirsty Fontaine-Henley BHSI, Hayley Newman BHSI, Lowri Powell BHSL5 E&C, Rachelle Purnell. BHS IIT.

CHAIRMAN’S REVIEW of 2019

AGM JANUARY 2020

“Ladies & Gentlemen

Once again it is my pleasure to stand in front of you to give the Chairman’s Review of the past year. We have 91 for supper, the biggest number ever. I am in awe of the length & breadth of this professional association’s membership – people who are prepared to go that extra mile in organizing and presenting such a wide variety of days for us all to attend. You have all taken to heart my plea in the spring newsletter for our days to break even and they have. There was some confusion between the GBS & the euro payments for the Irish Day, so capably organised by Faith Ponsonby, so Faith has decided everyone should pay sterling direct to our Treasurer, for 2020.

Looking at the 2019 calendar of events, it was a very busy year, we have visited studs, including a very in depth look at breeding at West Kington Stud, then an interesting walk through the Irish National Stud. We’ve walked 5* courses with eminent Trainers helping us to find our way across the terrain and over the fences. We’ve become racehorse trainers both at Lambourn at Warren Greatex, then visiting Oaksey House where the Injured Jockeys can get rehabilitation and again at Jessica Harrington’s fabulous yard in Tipperary. Our new Rep for Scotland Jen Burnett put us all to shame with her Saddlery Day in Auchterarder Village Hall and she has something interesting up her sleeve for this year.

At this point I feel we may all give ourselves a clap, because we’ve also become fund raisers for Charities & I would like to read to you a couple of letters firstly from Ruby Walsh, Chair of the Irish Injured Jockey’s Fund, and then the Equine Grass Sickness Fund, add to these the £300 sent by Amy Bannister Bell to the Injured Jockeys Fund UK in 2018 & 2019; we are some group of people.

The F&I Summer Camp at Wellington – I sincerely promise David that Ann & I will not attend again but it was worth it to see the look on Eric Smiley’s face AND to jump a ‘show jump upsides’ with Ann passing Eric on the approach – and I can now do my “Dimagamols”. Another excellent 2 days.

However, I’m asking you now to put this date, 25th July, into your diaries for Ladies Day at Hickstead in the BHS box. In 2019 we were a small number and it has been strongly mentioned that if we cannot bring forward more of our own guests then the day will no longer be ours but maybe opened up to all APCs. So, I really don’t want this to happen it is a unique day for us and our family and friends where we can let our hair down, do come and join us. Whilst I’m talking about social days some of us got excited about going to Olympia in 2019 but then the tickets were very expensive. I’m going to remind you all in the Spring Newsletter and ask for half payment by a date in June and full payment by the required date later this year and ask for the dates YOU would most like. November is the BHS Charity Race and we always have a member of F&I in the ‘field’, so I’m asking for a volunteer.

Down to the nitty gritty of this Association – our training days. Thanks to Judy Harvey for her ‘spring clean’ for Coaches & riders, to Andrew Bennie for coaching a varied group of horses on the flat through grids & across related distances at Myerscough Arena in June and to Pammy Hutton for her time, horses and facilities in September. Pammy was assisted by Islay coaching a group of BHSIs as well as prospective BHSIs. Sadly, the day due to be run at Ingestre, despite a change of date, did not go ahead, neither did the ‘sit with the judge’ day at the BD Nationals with Jenny Ward BD List 1 judge. To this effect your committee has decided, and I sincerely hope with your approval, that whilst we have the funds, days which are with these wonderful coaches/trainers should not be lost. So, as long as there is a nucleus of F&I members participating, those days will be sponsored by F&I to keep them for members, and this includes the day at Talland. We are then looking for someone to organise a pre BHSI/ST 5 day for those very interested Stage 4 students who are seriously looking to progress to the BHSI. I have been reminded that Scholarships are available for help towards future qualifications via your BHS Regional Representatives.

Any days I’ve missed I apologise but thank you to all the organisers AND a big thank you to all the report writers. As you will have seen F&I has two tickets booked for the National Equine Forum on 5th March, I will ask Corrine & Adam to draw two names out of the box at the end of this AGM for two people lucky enough to have entrance to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Westminster. Here, I’d like to thank BHS Education for their help in providing the lanyards, some at the last minute! We also thank Chris Parker, here at Addington, and his team for making us feel so welcome and providing such superb facilities.

Later this evening Islay Auty will give us a brief look at the International Group for Equestrian Qualifications. After supper Dr Andrew Hemmings from the Royal Agricultural College will guide us through Equine Stereotypic Behaviour.
Tomorrow, we continue with these two wonderful Coaches Corinne & Adam whose talk this morning about their own methodologies has filled us with enthusiasm and yet more helpful tips for our own coaching. Their affinity with the horse knows no bounds. Next year we can look forward to two more excellent Coaches, yet to be revealed…”

Jillie Rogers BHSI
7th January 2020