Clarissa Dawson’s Funeral

The funeral for Clarissa will take place at 11am on Monday 1st April at the NORTH CHAPEL, Oakley Wood Crematorium, Bishops Tachbrook, Leamington Spa CV33 9QP. Just off the M40. She has made a specific request the service is a celebration and colourful clothing should be worn.

If you are planning to attend, please notify Clarissa’s brother Geoff Dawson at of your intended attendance, as it will be of considerable assistance in helping to assess numbers.


DONN COLLINS pays tribute to CLARISSA DAWSON, BHSI, BHS Stage 5 Performance Coach in Complete Horsemanship, who sadly passed away on March 9 after a brave battle with cancer. 

As a newly appointed BHS Examiner (we were not called Assessors in those days!!) I first met Clarissa on an exam team in July 1985. Since then Clarissa has been a stalwart supporter of the BHS examination/assessment system through its different guises, serving on its exams sub-committee, working as a Chief/Lead Assessor at Level 4 and Senior Examiner/Assessor for the BHSI/Level 5 in places as diverse as Spain, Ireland and China.  On one occasion she even arrived back from Ireland at Birmingham Airport with security protection after a suspected IRA threat!! Clarissa’s loyalty to the cause was such that, even during her illness she insisted on sitting the EQL Standardisation Test, passing it with flying colours and chiding me for not telling her about it sooner!!

However it was during our FE and HE lecturing together at Warwickshire College where, previously, she had been an Equine Student, that I really came to respect Clarissa’s integrity, high standards and shrewd judgment.

I started doing one afternoon a week in Autumn 2000 and Clarissa was a welcoming and supportive mentor. If only subsequent mentors had been as good!! As my hours increased gradually, I hope that we were able to support one another juggling college commitments, freelance coaching, competing and looking after our own horses. Sharing an office for a time we exchanged training and teaching ideas and refused to drown in the ever deepening waters of electronic technology!!

On a visit to Deurne in Holland for a European Education Network Symposium, we were two of the few delegates who had not competed in European, World or Olympic championships. As our flight back was leaving earlier, it was announced that the British were to teach first to the distinguished group. Clarissa refused to teach but was invaluable hissing sharp reminders to me and delegates agreed we were much better than the Swedes who followed us!!   

Clarissa also had a distinguished competition career. Early days included childhood lessons with the late Molly Sivewright FIH, FBHS  and membership of the Warwickshire Hunt branch of the Pony Club, culminating in an A test award. Warwickshire branch members at the time included Carole Broad FBHS and Patrick Print FBHS. Clarissa was an elegant National Ladies Side Saddle Champion three times in 1992, 1994 & 1997 and twice winner of the Pas Seul with her creative costumes and routines, one being described as “raunchy” in a Horse and Hound report!!

Successful horses were her two greys Blue Button and Shadow of Doubt. Her side saddle expertise was keenly sought both in the UK and at clinics abroad. On Primiende, a mare who did so much to sustain her through gruelling bone marrow transplants and chemotherapy, she was placed at BD Regional Advanced Medium level, also gaining points at Advanced level. As recently as November 23 last year, Clarissa and Primiende were placed in an Advanced Medium music class. What better testament can there be to the fighting spirit of a lady who was committed to promoting better standards of riding and horse care during her all too brief life.

Clarissa Dawson BHSI

It was with the greatest sadness that we learned of the passing of Clarissa Dawson who lost her battle with cancer on 9th March 2019. She was a much loved member of the F & I Association and many tributes and fond memories are being shared on the F & I Association Facebook page.

Horse and Hound wrote an article about Clarissa’s determination during her treatment which can be read here:

National Equine Forum 2019

Opened by Lord Gardiner the Under Secretary State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, the National Equine Forum yet again excelled in offering everyone opportunity to learn about so many important topics that influence and affect the Equine industry in both the UK and abroad. The announcement that the value of the UK equine industry is internationally recognised as worth an estimated £8 billion per year with overseas at £400 million, alongside being the 4th largest rural employer in the UK was surprising and bought home realisation of the potential impact impending decisions upon Brexit may have upon our industry.

Chaired by HRH Princess Royal, the programme offered an immense supply of information from many key equestrian organisations, researchers and charities – far too many to cover in this brief report, so where it may fall short, please visit the National Equine Forum website to find out more.

So, what might leaving the EU mean for horse owners and those who work with horses? (by the time this report reaches you all and to eliminate risk of error, the caveat is that the most current and up to date information will be available on the Defra website). Basically if you own but don’t move horses into EU there will be no change – horses will continue to need passports and owners will, by 2020 need to have horses microchipped.

If we leave without a deal then the U.K. risks becoming classed as a 3rd country meaning we have to apply for listing as a sanitary county based on our veterinary category. This category defines blood tests about clearance for transit. If not granted we then become classed as an unlisted country therefore no movement of horses abroad is allowed.

We will need to make sure all animals being moved or travelling abroad are tested for diseases (country requirements may differ). There will be need for resident and isolation export health certifications and entry through specified border inspection centres or points. There will be no charge for the ID documentation for transporting but horse owners will have to bear the veterinary and testing for diseases costs associated with countries they wish to take horses through until their final destination. Advise is being given to to check Defra website and ascertain the biosecurity needs for each country allowing a minimum 6 weeks prior to transit. It’ll be super important to plan ahead as, in some cases, not all vets will be able to undertake the required tests and not all Border inspection posts have yet been confirmed so plan ahead for possible change of journey to accommodate border inspection post requirements.

Currently there is no special provision for Ireland and sadly a possible impact may be that horses will not have the free access north to south and vice versa that they currently do.

Recognition was given to 2019 being the 50th year since infancy for the Riding for the Disabled and highlighted the dual benefit the work and involvement of the RDA (and other charities) have for all involved – be they volunteers, participants and their families.

During 2019 working with the British Horse Council, Defra updated the Code of Practice for the Horse and reviewed licensing of riding schools to ensure clarity upon minimum standards for welfare.

Biosecurity featured highly with much discussion and evaluation of recent experiences due to the recent outbreaks of Equine Flu with Defra identifying that much work is in progress to mitigate zoonotic and microbial diseases along trying to reduce use of antibiotics through a 5yr national action plan within the UK involving working with vets and horse owners to reduce further or unnecessary antibiotic use.

Gratitudes were given to those involved with the work of the equine coalition in addressing the Equine Flu outbreak with best advice to vaccinate and it was confirmed there will be a review following the outbreak. Biosecurity remains of high importance to protect our industry with much emphasis upon the need to inform and educate to ensure effective preventative measures are applied

UK wide ID regulations are developing which will apply to breeders of all animals and there is a requirement for all horses to be microchipped by 2020 with exception for semi wild ponies. Local Authorities now have rules rules around supporting Legislation, which must continue to recognise semi feral ponies.

Better technology and the digital stable is the way forwards and with approx 1.3 million horses in the UK, the Central Equine database (CED) will play a key role in ensuring robust identification and traceability of horses – an important consideration given the need to maintain control of POMs and reduce risk of entering the food chain. It is very clear that as owners of horses, we need to be updating the PIO for our horses and the CED upon any changes with our horses. Transparency upon the medical (inc breeding and performance) history of individual horses will soon become the norm.

‘Physical training increases fitness hence performance improves ‘ was the opening statement offered by Dr Marlin as he further explained the influences in the training into skill behavioural and physical, whilst Dr Andrew Hemmings provided a highly interesting and entertaining report upon research into the learning patterns of horses that crib or weave.

An initial report into the findings of the current BETA research was provided by CEO Clare Williams with announcement that completion should be achieved by end of May this year – definitely a publication for those wishing to understand the drivers and influencers within our industry.

It was reassuring to attend the forum and appreciate that a lot of what we all currently practice, we all (mostly) do, with the common themes of furthering best practice and welfare for the horse – for those unable to attend in 2020 then I would strongly urge you join in though accessing the National Equine Forums remote feed facility.

Report by Oonagh Meyer

Dates for your Diaries


7th March The National Equine Forum, London

Contact Jillie Rogers,

15th March Caroline Moore FBHS Training day at Wellington Riding

Contact David Sheerin,

3rd May Badminton Course Walk with Nick Turner FBHS,

Contact Ann Bostock,

20th May Judy Harvey FBHS Training Day

Contact Ann Bostock

25th June Irish F&I Day

Contact Faith Ponsonby (this is already full)

6th Sept Burghley Course Walk with Eric Smiley FBHS

Contact Ann Bostock

15th Sept The Pammy Hutton FBHS Talland Training Day

Contact Jude Murphy


Training Day at Millfield (Danny Anholt)

A Day with the Three Fellows Ingestre (Linda De Matteo)

Show Jump Training with Alan Fasakerly (Sue Ricketts)

F&I Day at RIHS Hickstead (Jillie Rogers)

F&I Summer Camp at Wellington (David Sheerin)

Continued training towards the Fellowship (Sam Champney Warrener)

A trip to Olympia – December (Jillie Rogers)


Hartpury 24-26 March

Ingliston 7-9 April

Cavan 13-14 May

Aintree 15-17 September

Merrist Wood 22-24 September