NATIONAL EQUINE FORUM REPORT MARCH 2020

As I write this on the train heading back to Cheshire, I am reflecting on what has been a truly thought provoking day at The National Equine Forum.

I firstly want to say a big thank you to the F&I Association for the opportunity for myself and Alex Wyatt to attend the forum. Having arrived slightly late due to train issues I arrived as Dr Richard Newton had started his talk on managing infectious disease risks and his recent experiences and thoughts on the topic. He touched on the recent outbreak of equine flu and how warnings were given but more should have been done to block the chain of transmission.

He then went on to talk about other diseases including EVA and EHV-1. What I found most interesting was his discussion on an outbreak of EHV-1 at a yard, he went into detail on how the disease spread throughout the yard based on the yard set up and management. It was no great surprise that the horses on this yard that were stabled in an American barn style block all contracted the disease with some fatalities. Whereas the horse stabled in the external blocks had much fewer cases spread from horse to horse. He then went on to discuss the importance of bio security in cases of any diseases outbreak but also how people must take responsibility for making the general public aware of any disease outbreak and the role social media has in helping with this.

We next heard from James Hick from the BHS on the work he and a fantastic team of over 300 volunteers are doing to help save our access to public rights of way across the UK. These routes are slowly being lost and need us all to start making sure any bridleways in our area are recorded before 2026. After this any routes that are not on record will be lost permanently.

The next group of speakers came under the heading “Global Issues, National Impact”.

Ian Cawsey, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns from the Donkey Sanctuary started this section off talking about an issue I was completely unaware of. It was the impact that the Donkey skin trade for the production of Ejiao in China was having on the Donkey population worldwide. The demand for this product has seen a drop in over 8 million donkeys and a surge in poachers stealing the donkeys from farmers in developing third world countries. It’s not only sad that these animals are being slaughtered for their skin, but they really are an integral part everyday life to villagers and farmers across many developing countries. The other issue the donkey sanctuary was trying to deal with was the appalling conditions the animals were being held and slaughtered in but also the way in which the carcasses were being disposed of and a complete lack of biosecurity. This was a real eye opener for me, and I will certainly be making a donation to this charity in future.

Next up, we got to hear from Roly Owers, chief executive from World Horse Welfare, on our future with horses and how social licences can help. Now this was a new concept for me (social licensing) but one that made complete sense. Roly talked about how important public perception of horse sport is. Animal rights activists will argue how ‘use is abuse’, but we need to ensure that we educate the public on how we use but don’t abuse our horses. Issues such as use of the whip or marking of horses with spurs have never been more in the spotlight. Social licensing is an unwritten contract between our industry and the general public, and it is crucial that each and everyone of us takes responsibility to promote good horsemanship practices, whether it be on the world stage or just hacking down the road.

This topic was then carried on with Dr Barry Johnson from the Horse Board. He used the racing industry as an example of how important it is to promote good welfare for the horses, not just during their competitive career but from birth right through to retirement.

After a delicious lunch, the afternoon speakers were all talking about improving equine health and welfare by changing our behaviour.

The first speaker was Dr Zac Baynham-Herd from the behavioural insight team. He was giving us an insight into applying behavioural changes to people.
This was followed by Professor Sarah Freeman who is a Professor of Veterinary Surgery from Nottingham University. Sarah Talked about her involvement with the research and development of the ‘React’ campaign which is being run through the BHS. Its aim is to educate people on recognising early signs of colic. The Question is, can an educational campaign such as this change people’s behaviour? The current thinking is that it will take an average of 15 years to implement and see any changes.

Next we heard from David Rendle, Council Member of the British Equine Veterinary Association. His talk was all about Anthelmintic Resistance in horses, the worrying rises in worm resistance and the fact that there are currently no new anthelmintic treatments on the market. His emphasis was focused on the need for educating and encouraging a change in people’s behaviour when it comes to worming programs. Maybe there is a need for an educational campaign targeting large yards on the importance of diagnostic worming?

The final two speakers in this section were Jude Matthews, Chief Executive of British Eventing and Andrew and Abigail Turnbull, Owners and Directors of Richmond Equestrian Centre. They talked about the devastating outbreak of Strangles at the centre last year and how the centre had to cancel their BE event as well as other competitions. Then, how they controlled the outbreak from spreading by carrying out strict Bio security on the yard and continue to do this to this day. It is so easy to become complacent when we take our horses out to competition centres and other yards but listening to these guys talk about the measures they now take, really made me think about my own bio security with my own horses!

We were then treated to a sneak peak ahead of this year’s Olympics. Some photos and a video from Tim Hadaway, Director for Games Operations, FEI and Henry Bullen who is Director of Peden Bloodstock who are responsible for transporting all the equine athletes out to Tokyo. It was great to get a glimpse of what we can expect from Tokyo at the Equestrian Park. Lets just hope that this Corona Virus doesn’t ruin it for us all!

The Final “Memorial” Lecture was given by Kirsty Whitnall from the RSPCA. Kirsty gave us a brilliant insight into the great work she and her colleagues are doing including some horses that have been rescued and rehomed.

But of course, the closing speaker was none other than HRH The Princess Royal. What a great way to end a brilliant day of inspirational speakers by getting to listen to HRH give us her thoughts on the day.

So, in summary, a great day. So much food for thought. I feel we all need to be more responsible for helping make a change. Whether it be horse welfare, educating clients on worming programs, or promoting good bio security, take your pick!

Report by David Llewellyn BHSI

F&I TRAINING DAY TALLAND 9TH MARCH 2020.

Talland’s Pammy Hutton FBHS

This day was kindly organised by Talland School of Equitation.

A group of eager F’s and I’s were welcomed by Pammy Hutton FBHS at Talland School of Equitation on a cold Monday morning. The group was a mixture of both riders and spectators.

At 10am prompt, an action-packed programme began and the first of the 3 riders were given the arena and some younger horses to assess and critique. The horses were quality types with varying levels of schooling from green to more experienced. Pammy was very encouraging with the riders to ride the horses forward and straight to achieve the best way of going. The onlookers were also actively involved to give their opinions on the way of going of the horses and were asked for their observations.

Next, we saw more established horses with schooling levels from prelim to advanced medium, the same 3 riders stayed in the arena and swapped onto these horses. More discussion was encouraged by all and Pammy discussed the horses in relation to the fellowship assessment, and how the riders should also comment on the basic way of going of the horses in their discussions, as well as talking about the more advanced movements that they have established.

Pammy Hutton coaching David Sheerin

Pammy was supported by Islay Auty FBHS and Sam York FBHS, who contributed greatly to the riders and spectators, and gave valuable advice as well as great tips for our future training of partnerships.

The third group of riders were given more advanced horses ranging from adv medium to PSG and Inter 1. The riders were quickly given specific tasks to work on and encouraged to “ride in the quality” in all that they do.

Over a working lunch, the group observed Pammy help David Sherrin on his beautiful eventer. David was having some explosive moments when asking for changes and Pammy gave him some great help to achieve a cleaner change. We all enjoyed seeing the improvement.

The afternoon saw some coaching sessions take place where coaches were practical and correct in their coaching techniques. Again, valuable advice came from Pammy, Islay and Sam as well as from the spectators.

Pammy Hutton coaching David Sheerin

The day rounded off watching Pammy ride her own Magnum and she clearly demonstrated her ”feel” for the horse and showed her experience for us all to see.

It was a truly great day that was had by all, and it was most lovely to hear Mrs Molly Sivewright FBHS mentioned on several occasions throughout the day for being the wonderful horsewoman that she was. It is very clear that her fond memory lives on in all that is Talland.

A huge thankyou to Pammy and her team at Talland for a most special day.

P.S. We even learned that there are 53 roundabouts between Talland and Keysoe, but that story is for another day!!

Report by Carl Crofts BHSI

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.