F&I Annual Course January 2017 – An overview

Written by Alison Craig BHSI

What an outstanding Annual Course we were all treated to. It is our flagship event of the year, held at Addington Equestrian Centre, Bucks, in January, and organised with incredible efficiency by Ann Bostock.

The detailed training activity in each of the two arenas, Dressage and Jumping, is described separately, but the shared facilities are worth describing for those who couldn’t be there – we have the complete run of Addington, with 2 indoor schools, stabling, central warm catering running all day overlooking the jumping, and a private evening dinner venue upstairs with room to hold our AGM and dinner, hear some interesting speeches, and as the evening progresses, also dance and let rip… and oh yes we may all be Fs and Is but we do know how to have fun!

For this year and next year, we have Christoph Hess and Chris Bartle, both top names in their echelons and we are so lucky to have them. Their unique experiences and yet utterly consistent views of training methods and priorities were fascinating to engage with – and engage we did, with Christoph in particular always asking the coaches watching to work with him assessing horse and rider. Riding places with both were sold out well in advance and the feedback from the riders was outstanding. We also offered study groups alongside, led by senior and experienced coaches including Sue Payne, Jenny Ward, Lizzel Winter, Carol Bennett, Sam York, Nick Turner, Danny Anholt, David Sheerin. What more could you want – watching top class coaching taking place and able to discuss and dissect the process with the trainers themselves and with one’s peers.

A big thank you is due to the BHS. They support us with this flagship venture – surely the jewel in the crown of training available through the BHS – by providing F&I badges and name tags for all participants, the BHS enquiries stand (many a detailed discussion took place over the 2 days), and Lynn Peterson the CEO attended our AGM and dinner as our honoured guest. The BHS will also be buying microphones during this year, which can be loaned to us for the next year’s course, to make the delivery even slicker and more accessible in both arenas.

We were able to present our prestigious awards. The Achievement Award went to Chris Bartle – coaching Germany into its current dominant position in the eventing world surely put the icing on the cake for achievement as a coach. And our Pat Smallwood Trophy went to Jenny Ward, who has done so much to support the Association from its early days.

The AGM is always interesting – a who’s who of the industry in attendees alone, and a chance to elect from the membership for the committee, and to discuss ideas for the coming year’s events. The dinner is always great – 3 courses including a full roast and serious puds leaves no one hungry – and the evening entertainment is different each year but this year featured The Irish Duo who played brilliantly throughout the evening – quietly during dinner, then they upped the tempo for the final section of the evening, which included balloon games, drunken dancing and a huge amount of fun. No one complained about it dropping to -7 overnight – maybe no one really noticed!

It’s a privilege to be part of an extraordinarily committed and passionate group of thoroughly nice people, all intensely proud to be BHSIs (or more) and dedicating 2 full days to learning from each other and from the inspirational trainers.

Dates for 2018: 3rd and 4th January. Don’t miss it!