BHSI Coaches and Assessors day at Ingestre Stables Staffordshire 2nd October 2014

20 enthusiastic BHS instructors travelled to Ingestre Stables, Stafford from Ireland, Scotland and nearly every region of England. Linda De Matteo excelled in her organising of the day, her first go at a training day for the F&I Association. The team at Ingestre did a smashing job ensuring that the day ran smoothly from the yard staff to “Aunty LIZ” in the coffee shop. It was my first attendance at an F&I day and it was great to feel part of an organisation which is proactive and supportive with NO uncomfortable ego’s to negotiate.

This day with Tim Downes FBHS, Rob Lovatt FBHS and Carole Broad FBHS was amazing value at the £25 cost for the day with lunch included, throughout the day all the sections of the BHSI Equitation and Coaching were covered.

My overview of the day was the assessors feeling the need to try and find a way to pass the candidate on the day of the exam. It was stressed that due to the pressure of the day it was often the case for the assessors to put in place “signposts” for candidates who may be getting stuck in that familiar rut at different  points throughout the exam process. The value of the practical candidate was discussed and how everyone has their own pathway to negotiate on the way to the BHSI exam through experience, training and self help development. The candidates ability to impart knowledge to the assessor in the oral discussion after the relevant section was also stressed,  at this level the candidate should be delivering a critical evaluation not just a descriptive one.

Delegates were encouraged to get involved if they wished, to lunge, and ride on the flat and over fences. Ingestre supplied a superb selection of horses, some being young and green starting their career to older schoolmasters and current competition horses most of which were involved in the BHSI Equitation and Coaching exam on the previous day.

Organised discussion groups evaluated horsepower, riding ability and coaching to improve the BHSI candidate in their preparation for the BHSI exam.  The role of the BHSI in today’s market was discussed, the outcome was that a BHSI should be “a problem solver through being a reader of the horse and rider to ensure the ongoing welfare of the horse”; another point to come out was the BHSI is the link between “development and performance”.

The consensus of the day after speaking to a number of delegates was the value of spending time with a peer group and realising that everyone was on a similar page of the BHSI exam training book. Inspiration was clearly achieved over this enlightening day with one of the parting questions being “How do I prepare for the Fellowship?”

Erik MacKechnie BHSI

Report from Burghley 2014

6 BHSI’s and 14 guests were given the chance at Burghley to walk the xc course with Eric Smiley FBHS. As always Eric kept us entertained with various tales from years gone by. Beyond the stories there is a great depth of knowledge that Eric is very good at putting across especially when talking about times/speed and where you should be on the course to stay up on the clock (which no one was able to do this year).

There were many relevant questions and discussions throughout the walk including why to have knot in your reins and how to tie it using a shoelace!!!!!

Our thanks as always goes to Eric for his time, knowledge and enthusiasm.

by Ann Bostock


Carl Hester Day 19 August 2014

Organised by Andrew Fletcher BHSI

On Tuesday 19th August a “large” group of F and I members and some of their guests were treated to a truly inspirational demonstration of HAPPY horses enjoying their work with superb horsemanship from the maestro Carl and his riders: Charlotte, Katherine. Amy and Katie.

Carl, with his lovely sense of humour, led us through his training philosophy from the young horse to Grand Prix. We were privileged to watch 6 horses with different temperaments, conformation and training plans. The horses definitely had an aura of “WE LOVE BEING HERE!” The convivial surroundings with dogs, hens and guinea fowl greatly enhanced the relaxed atmosphere.

Carl explained that he buys 2 y o horses with 3 good expressive paces and a workable temperament. The aim is to produce horses to compete at Grand Prix. Of course not all get there but the outlay has not been huge initially. Remember a huge walk not desirable for future collection. The trot can be developed. The horse’s ability to shorten and sit is even more important with the emphasis on piaffe in GP Test. An uphill canter is important.

The mechanics of the horse’s structure and movement (hock and knee) must allow a good moment of suspension. The horse must have self- motivation and want to go! Read more Carl Hester Day 19 August 2014

Céad míle fáilte Blossom Hill Ladies’ Day at the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show

Boats, trains, planes and automobiles, but no horses, were all used as means of transport to get members of the BHS F&I association and their guests to the recent Blossom Hill Ladies’ Day at the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show.  Style was to be seen everywhere, our party included, and thanks to the very kind arrangements made by Joan O’Connor, we were allowed to use the judges and stewards box and felt rather like VIP’S with ring side seats at the main arena for the day.

Most of our party met early to watch the jumping phase of the young event horse classes. These were divided into small, 4 yr old and 5 year old classes. Horses have tough competition to qualify over the spring and summer to reach the Dublin finals. There were a lot of quality horses on view with the obvious influence of continental blood being injected into the Irish breeding program so as to meet the demands of the modern sporting animal. It was nice to see good mares competing and we all agreed the winner of the 5 year olds, OBOS Impressive, a mare by  OBOS Quality 004, did indeed live up to her name and was indeed impressive. Read more Céad míle fáilte Blossom Hill Ladies’ Day at the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show

F&I Visit To R.I.H.S At Hickstead  Ladies Day 2nd August 2014

Our group had a very pleasant day which started off as we meant to carry on in the BHS Hospitality Box with teas, coffees and biscuits. We were ably looked after throughout the day by Eamon and Nigel the catering staff who also and most importantly did the washing up.

We watched a variety of Championship Judging Classes that included Hack, Ladies Hunters, Miniature Horses and Scurry Driving.

After an early lunch we then walked the Queen Elizabeth Cup Course with the renowned Judge Alan Jones. It was immediately obvious it was up to height (1.50m) and imposing, leaving little room for rider error. I was surprised to note a slight gradient to the arena which is not apparent on the television. Read more F&I Visit To R.I.H.S At Hickstead  Ladies Day 2nd August 2014

F & I Day At Shorthampton Farm July 1st 2014

“Impulsion with Enthusiasm” with Joanna and Roger Day.

The venue was Mandy Holloway’s Shorthampton Farm where Mandy was the host for the day, ably assisted by Tasha de Grave.

The morning began with Joanna explaining about her method of training horses where they had to be very quick to react and respect the handler/trainer from the ground and when ridden, using cues from our body language and positioning together with pressure and release techniques.

Annette Christie was the demo rider and her lovely horse Kiitos where we were asked to observe them warming up for about 10 minutes in the walk, trot, canter and jumping a small fence and then discuss what we observed from the riding point of view.  We agreed that a common aim was how to get the horse sharper from the leg and thinking more forward as he tended to be too laid back.

Joanna helped with this and suggested that the riders core position, power of thought and light leg aids had to be used and that the horse has just become lazy to the leg as Annette had used more leg and stick to get him to respond which made him even lazier.   Joanna wanted the energy to be 60:40 from the horse and we were seeing that Annette was working harder. A few transitions later with a lighter aid did have him responding better.  Joanna emphasised that this type of horse would be a good candidate for the “in hand” work which followed in the afternoon.

Joanna then discussed the equipment which she found useful – an array of different types of halters and lunge cavessons and different lengths and thicknesses of ropes and lengths and flexibility of sticks to suit the handler and the horse combination.  Roger uses western rope halters and works off the chin for manners and behaviour issues.  Joanna prefers to use a light cavesson as she likes to work off the front of the horse to get the whole horse in bend.

Joanna explained that she liked very inflexible types of stick to work in hand – she had some normal jump sticks and just the butt half from lunge whips with the end taped off and also some driving sticks.

Joanna explained that it was important to channel your energies into the horse and for example, the energy should be of an approximate ration of 60:40 from the horse to the handler. Joanna stressed the significance of who moves who – and the horse will quickly test how easily he can get you moving!

Joanna then fitted a lunge cavesson to Kiitos and proceeded to work him on the lunge – on a small circle, making his reaction quicker and using turn on the haunches to improve his suppleness and responsiveness.  Joanna was explaining that she must keep the horse’s eye on her and  ask the horse to respect her and keep his attention on her at all times – shown by the horse’s inside eye and ear focussed on her.

Using body positioning and cues from the stick and using a shaking of the lunge line when the horse lost focus, Joanna made this look very easy.  She commanded respect from the horse and waited for a “gentling” or “accepting” reaction from the horse, shown by “bowing” the head, licking and chewing.  The reactions of Kiitos became quicker when worked “in hand” using this method, he appeared to become looser in his movement on the lunge on a small circle using just the cavesson and short lunge line and working well without the use of gadgets. Small circles are only used briefly to explain to the horse the desired bend before moving out to the bigger circle.

Mandy provided 4 unique ponies for us to practise and master our acquired skills:

Pepper – a grey welsh pony who was just mastering the flying changes

Lily – a miniature Shetland pony

Another miniature Shetland called Lucky.

Rio – an ex stallion who was cut late and is owned by a child

Each of us preferring and choosing different equipment – relating to the length of stick and type of halter/headcollar/cavesson.

We all had a go of practising the techniques of pressure and release as superbly demonstrated by Joanna.

Di, Liza Faircloth and Tasha put their techniques into practise whilst Roger worked Lucky – one of the miniature Shetland ponies to establish manners.

Our body energy was focussed upon and for the quiet charges, a high energy was required to sharpen and motivate and for the nervous or tense horse or pony we would have to use lower body energy.

Joanna and Roger then helped us to develop the techniques and show improvement of being aware of our body movement, positioning and energy. This helped us to realise that we had to adapt the body energy and take it down if we were quite intimidating, depending on the type of horse/pony being worked with.

A superb lunch was provided for us by our host, Mandy which also was a chance for some entertaining and educational discussion around the farmhouse kitchen table.

After lunch, we worked the again in hand, practising our acquired skills.

The ponies were Pepper, Lily, Rio and Tinkabelle which was one of Mandy’s competition horses worked by her head girl, Tasha.

Annette was encouraged to take Kiitos and work with her horse to promote looseness and quicker reactions from her body language and targeted application of the stick.

This session also included “Spook busting” which included objects like a very small bright red blow up horse, hats, flags and tarpaulins.

Methods used to spook bust included:

Walking around the scary object but not looking at or sniffing it

Then kicking it around but asking the pony to not take any notice and acclimatising the pony with the object by rubbing it all over its body and placing it on the body and allowing it fall off (resembling a small child falling off – useful for horses and adults too!).

Roger included flag work and was waving a large union jack around and there was acclimatisation of a tarpaulin whereby all of the horses stood on it and were nonplussed.  The tarpaulin was moved closer to the fence as it was accepted and eventually the horses would stand quietly on it.  Clapping was also introduced – as in acclimatising to the sound of the audience when at Prize giving.  Methods used here of advance and retreat related to introducing with a low energy and raising the energy/enthusiasm/body language and height of clapping as the horses accepted it.  Where one did not, it was a case of turning a pirouette and “gentling” the horse to get the focus back whilst the noise was still going on and rewarding the desired quiet behaviour by “retreating” the stimulus.

Annette, Mandy and Tasha rode the horses “spook busting” – with the emphasis on maintaining the regular footfalls and rhythm by keeping them in front of the leg and soft whilst moving over the tarpaulin and around the flags.

The emphasis was that the horses “Must not drop off the leg or run through the bridle.  Attention must be on the rider”.   The theme for the day “Impulsion with Enthusiasm” was met throughout all of the activities that we used and furthermore, was very well demonstrated by the riders.

This was a very informative day into body language and energy awareness and it was a great shame that it was not attended by more people as the participant’s learnt a lot about their communication techniques.

Thank you to Mandy for providing the venue and the wonderful “demo” horses and ponies which enabled us to put the theory into practise,  and the wonderful lunch.

Thank you to Joanna and Roger Day for giving up their time to put on the training, discussion and insight to this topic and patience shown in helping the participants and spectators improve their communication techniques and also providing personalised signed copies of their published book “The Fearless Horse”.  This was a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Click any photo to enlarge:

Visit to Coolmore Stud and Fethard Equine Hospital

Getting the chance to look inside a world class stud farm is not something that happens all the time, but this is exactly what a group of qualified instructors – including four members of the F&I Association – did on a drizzly Irish day.

Coolmore is known worldwide for its stable of incredible top class thoroughbred stallions. Winners come from these outstanding champion bloodlines worldwide including the recent Irish and Epsom Derby winner Australia.
Coolmore also runs a top class breeding programme with excellent facilities and a wonderful environment for raising thoroughbreds.

We met outside the office at Coolmore and were greeted by Jason Walsh, a member of the highly professional and experienced team in charge of stallion nominations. Jason has been on the team at Coolmore for the past 15 years. He was the perfect knowledgeable tour guide.

The tour itself was extremely in-depth. We started by walking through the grounds past statues of previous greats such as Yeats and Sadler’s Wells. The realism in these sculptures is incredible, and it really sets the tone for the rest of the yard; the attention to detail is incredible. After stopping to pose with our bronze equine heroes, we moved into the stallion yard.
Here we saw Coolmore’s top class thoroughbred Stallions, this time the real thing! We were lucky enough to be shown some of them whilst they were walked from their stables. Holy Roman Emperor and Pour Moi were even more magnificent than they appear on television, but the real icing on the cake was seeing Galileo. Regarded by many as the best sire in the world, he has such a powerful walk that it immediately reminds you of how easily he covered the ground on the track. However, what is also noticeable is his terrific temperament, which is a real testament to how much care the handlers take of all the horses at Coolmore.
After this we moved through the breeding barns and were given a thorough walkthrough of all the different stages that the breeding process includes, as well as the challenges that it provides. It was interesting to hear this from someone with as much experience as Jason. He took us (in between the rain showers) into the holding area and the serving area. Each part of the process is carried out to a minute detail to ensure that the horses are in the best state they can be to aid a successful mating and keep both them and the handlers safe.
After a suitably relaxing lunch break in the famous McCarthy’s Hotel of Fethard, we then reconvened at the Fethard Equine hospital. The equine hospital was opened in 2007 and truly is an excellent top class facility and one of Ireland’s leading equine hospitals. Showing us the inner workings of the hospital was Tom O’Brien, one of the resident surgeons.
It is very interesting to have the time to take in the intricacies of an equine hospital. Usually when you visit one you are too busy focussing on the welfare of your animal to want to see areas like the lab. However, the group spent time in all the key sections of the hospital; the operating room complete with hoist, the stabling facilities, the lab and the washrooms. Tom pieced it all together to emphasise how much work goes into an operation like this.
All in all we had an enjoyable day that not even the questionable weather (real driving rain) could temper
Huge thanks to Coolmore and the Fethard Equine Hospital and all involved for making this wonderful tour possible and so informative and enjoyable.
Many thanks for organising our Stud Tour to the B.H.S. F&I Association and of course to Faith Ponsonby BHSI.

Report by Daniel Horgan.


Training Day with Judy Harvey FBHS: June 3rd 2014

The day started out and remained warm and even sunny in the afternoon so everyone did as requested and bought a chair and the dry weather!

As attendees started to arrive Judy was already teaching her own students who are based with her. They are preparing for competitions up to and including PSG and were quietly working their way through various test movements whilst managing their horses coping with a lot of activity and bustle as people settled in. Judy encouraged the riders to anticipate any spooks, to set up and ride forward. Fiona Brennen is competing at PSG level and now has a youngster so is taking on a more proactive thought process especially in the arena when there is no one to help during the moments that aren’t necessarily planned for.

Once everyone was settled in, Judy rode two of her competition horses, Fitz and Blitz (a pure coincidence in name similarity!). The first one, Fitz, who Judy spotted as a 3 year old and is now 16 years of age, competes at Grand Prix level and has recently returned to serious work following a slight injury. His rehabilitation has been a very slow and careful process with a measured balance of training for fitness which both Judy and Fitz demonstrated beautifully. Judy has just found the added benefits of the aqua treadmill as part of that regime for when they head off to France for an international qualifier competition in July.

Discussions followed on the dressage phase at Badminton this year, and Judy together with Fitz demonstrated some of the weaknesses that could be found in this phase and how to work on improving them – particularly the walk pirouettes.

Her second ride, Blitz, now 8 years of age, is working at advanced medium level and although extremely talented, suffers from nerves at the competitions predominantly becoming distracted with the noise. She envisages that Blitz will also reach Grand Prix level and her focus today concentrated on paying attention to the detail, to not throw away marks on the simple things especially transitions where specific marks at Advanced Medium are to be had, and to not therefore get caught up with the tricks too much.

Discussions ensued in relation to the development of the PSG movements; specifically in relation to the half pass counter change of hand, and again, walk and canter pirouettes, the emphasis being to practise, practise, practise and repeat. When collecting think of bending the hind joints rather than shortening the walk.

The first private lesson of the day was with Carol Bennitt on her own horse that she had had since a 3 yr. old. He is now working at Grand Prix level and is yet to debut in a GP competition. After a short warm up, Carol rode through the entire GP test (another first for Carol who tends to work on parts of the test at home) whilst Judy gave a detailed running commentary from a judges perspective with marks included – whilst also managing to explain why she gave those mark and how to gain more. As well as being extremely informative, it also clearly demonstrated Judy’s close attention to detail, sharp and quickness of eye and complete depth of knowledge. For improvement Judy suggested that Carol keeps the shoulders of the horse “up” through the corners and specifically during the turns onto the centre line to aid with the straightness.

Carol also takes lessons with Carl Hester twice a month and a discussion pursued at this point about variable coaching styles; that coaches are as individual as riders.

Next, Nicole Biggs rode her Intermediate event horse who jumps brilliantly and loves the x/c but doesn’t really get dressage; possibly viewing this phase as a necessity rather than desirability. Her mare can become quite stuffy and needs a lot of encouraging; all aided and improved by the constant repetition of transitions, particularly within the pace – with perhaps more emphasis to the down ward transition to help maintain the hind leg activity. Careful reminders from Judy helped Nicole’s awareness that she can be easily duped into doing much of the work for her horse. However, in contrast, there needs to be a balance when riding forward that the horse doesn’t then become more unbalanced, so that if she comes out of a natural rhythm, the hand brake goes on even more.

Discussions took place about how the extraordinary top dressage horses are less likely to tire so easily when they are competing especially in the circuit, in relation to a horse that isn’t as well designed in their conformation; that they are required to work harder to maintain their level of work and expertise, especially at Grand Prix level; whereas eventers for example, canter more forward as oppose to a dressage horse whose canter is designed for a more uphill motion.

This thought process followed through with the next rider, Ann Bostock whose horse for this session was a 12 year old retired point to pointer. It took a while, but once he had settled into the job in hand, worked beautifully. Ann confirms that Judy is always looking for the positive in any partnership and is as enthusiastic with a TB as with a “proper dressage horse”. She reminds herself to not hurry her horse through the canter transitions allowing him to prepare mentally and then physically before producing his answer. Again by the repetition of correct management of the exercise, her horse visibly relaxed and his confidence clearly grew.

Nicole Biggs then rode her second horse, a now retired Intermediate event horse who currently concentrates on his dressage to Advanced Medium level at 21 years of age. He gave Nicole a lovely ride and quietly worked his way through most of the movements required at this level. His parting shot to the session was 2 perfectly executed flying changes that have been somewhat of a nemesis but came just right on our day. Judy explained that horses who clearly understand their job need to work on the areas that will enhance their weaknesses without taking the strain.

Finally, Jo Ivimey brought her stunning 9 year old dressage horse who is currently working at medium dressage level; with the view of wanting to know if he would make the PSG grade. As with many riders who train for periods independently, Jo relished the advice and help that Judy was able to offer, with particular regard to tweaking the rider position and reinforcing the correct way of going. Judy also worked on the importance of horses that have a tendency to run away or become onward bound, that it is still imperative to keep riding them forwards, and keep the leg on to re-engage the hind quarters.

This training day with Judy Harvey, her guinea pigs, volunteer riders and a selection of super horses, proved to be extremely inspirational and thought provoking, with many ideas taken away and worked upon. Whilst at the same time, similar veins of a training philosophy ran through an assortment horses at different levels and backgrounds, which enabled the observing participant’s a valuable opportunity to look at the similar themes but from a variety of perspectives.

Report by Pippa Hattan; BHSI reg’d


Course Walk at Tattersals Horse Trials, Ireland, with Nick Turner FBHS, Irish Team Trainer.

Walking the course with Nick Turner FBHS
Walking the course with Nick Turner FBHS

Tattersalls Horse Trials was a great success again this year.  It is located in Ratoath, Co. Meath across from Fairyhouse Race Course.  It is a benificial event for the Irish riders as it attracts competitors worldwide.  This year’s WEG is a chance for Ireland to qualify for the Rio Olympics in 2016 so, ‘Tatts’ is an important event for the Irish riders as it enables them to see their progress and to see where their weaknesses lie.

I was lucky enough to get the chance to go on the BHS F&I Association’s course walk on Friday  30th May with Nick Turner.  He gave me a great understanding of a cross-country course.  From his positive attitude and calm way you would think it was easy!  I picked up a lot of information and enjoyed watching the beautiful horses earlier in the day doing the 3* dressage test.

Fences one to seven were relatively straightforward (according to Nick) and this was to encourage the horses to relax into their stride and make sure they were paying attention.  As show jumping is my sport I was interested to learn that the sunken roads and coffins needed to be ridden in a showjumping canter.

Towards the end of the course the square oxers in the water on a bendy line for the 2* horses looked much more difficult than the two big Owl Holes for the 3* horses.  And that’s how they rode even William Fox Pitt had to ride the oxers carefully on his 2* horse!

We had a small but enthusiastic group that included Grainne Sugars BHSI, on a motorised scooter that we all wanted to ride! Jane Kennedy, owner of Brennanstown RC and Jillie Rogers BHSI Chairman of the F&I Association, these ladies brought a good atmosphere to the occasion.  Walking with us was Jane’s daughter Louise Bloomer and this gave the group a very realistic feel for the course as she was riding in the CIC***.  Whilst Louise walked and counted the strides in the three water complexes we watched and took notes.

I hadn’t realised horses lose speed when they are jumping into water and this must be taken into consideration when you are walking from fence to fence.

‘Tatts’ is not on vast parkland like Badminton so the course builder had to put in loops to account for the distance and time.  Nick felt the course was technical but shouldn’t cause too many problems.

I enjoyed the opportunity to gain such an insight into a different sport from my own and am thinking 1m 20 is big but at least my horse can knock it down if I get it wrong!!

Report by Falone Whelan pre BHS Stage 2 student.

F and I day with Jeremy Michaels FBHS coaching the coaches, 24th March 2014.

Glorious sunshine welcomed the hardy few who arrived to enjoy and benefit from the coaching day offered by Mandy with

GPTania-IMG_2936Jeremy Michaels FBHS as the coach’s coach. Always a wonderful setting at Shorthampton we were all very appreciative of the improved weather.

Four lucky BHSI’s Mandy, Judith Murphy, Jo Ivemey, myself and my guest Sue Barr were to benefit from a marvellous days coaching. Mandy had produced for us a diverse selection of her clients, a wealth of wonderful horses and riders of every possible type. Our grateful thanks to our Demo riders…. Tonya Wood, on a lovely young eventer and another big horse competing at novice, young riders Lucy Goodey and Alex Byrne, and Fiona riding her pony gold medal winning daughter’s 3 eventers aiming at juniors. The horses also varied from small and athletic to big and strong eventers and ranged across all stages of eventing training up to 2 star. Even Mandy, riding the sweetest little welsh pony, was coached by my nervous guest Sue Barr!

The morning session began with dressage with Jeremy coaching the first few riders and asking us all to participate in assessments and suggestions for improvement. There was such an interesting variety of combinations that every aspect of coaching skills was needed. Jeremy rode two superbly, demonstrating the huge benefit of having a ‘sit upon’ to feel of the horse’s way of going. Many different ideas were tossed about – but the overriding conclusion was to try to think positive and seek and enhance the good bits in each combination. The importance of having a horse working willingly off light aids was agreed as key to success as was the essential requirement of a secure and balanced rider.

Much mention was made of Chris Bartle and his ‘wheelbarrows’ analogue for helping riders not to pull back at the horses head. Also the benefit of a clear riders ‘body statement’ helping to set the horse up for the intended movement or transition.

IMG_2954Molly Sivewright was also frequently referred to, especially the value of ensuring the correct distribution of the riders’ weight and the effectiveness of a rider lifting their diaphragm to prevent them tipping forward. The benefits of many transitions within and between the gaits were shown to improve the horse’s willingness and hind leg engagement – and the horse and rider partnership. Mandy added the wonderful contribution that ‘what’s in the brain goes down the rein’! Molly Sivewright’s and Chris Bartle’s brilliant books are still as relevant today as when they were written!

Each person had a chance to coach one of the riders, overseen by Jeremy, and comments were offered from him and then from the riders. My rider was young Alex on a lovely big grey welsh gelding who was very sharp and we worked on the riders role in calming the horses emotions. I asked my rider to ignore all the horse’s little dramas and crises concentrating on controlling his rhythm and breathing whilst maintaining a secure position – she found this helpful. I do find hot horses can cause themselves problems when they forget to breathe out! Everyone found Jeremy’s comments very useful and encouraging -and then we all repaired to Mandy’s lovely old farmhouse for lunch.

Mandy had made a wonderful Scandinavian chicken – a light creamy version of coronation chicken with fruit added – delicious. Quite an impressive feat as Mandy had only returned from skiing the day before! During lunch many ideas were tossed about and discussed especially the BHS exams, UKCC and how to encourage new coaches – younger or older – to seek qualification.

reflecting-IMG_2956In the afternoon some of the same combinations of horses and riders came forward for jump coaching and we started with pole work before moving on to grids. Again each of us took a turn to coach and further discussion, comment and encouragement was offered. We then set out a jumping exercise with 4 small jumps set out on diagonals at 15-16 metres that could be jumped in various ways and proved effective and very helpful to all. It was also a quick and easy exercise to set up and put away!

Jeremy is a wise, encouraging and helpful coach for us all and I especially found it helpful to work in front of colleagues and receive feedback and comment. Coaching can be lonely business and sometimes a bit of an ego trip… so these days are so valuable to keep ones coaching and social skills up to scratch – and ego in check!. Thank you to Mandy for organising wonderful demo riders for us, a brilliant coach and a delicious lunch. Roll-on the next Mandy Holloway F and I day with Jeremy Michaels FBHS planned for later in July 2014.

Meanwhile Mandy and Joanna are offering a day of ‘schooling horses from the ground’ and ‘developing successful horse and rider partnerships’ at Shorthampton on Tues 1st July – cost to F and I’s £30 – others £35 – or further information please contact Mandy 07753 367252 or Joanna 07968 544448

report by Joanna Day BHSI BE acT


National Equine Forum – 6th  March  2014

This was my first trip to the National Equine Forum and what a treat!  Jillie and I started off the day with coffee and breakfast near Big Ben and then moved on to the very comfortable surroundings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineering.  It was a delight to sit and listen to some really good speakers.  There were three themed sessions.  The notes from the Forum will be available online and should make good reading but I hope this report gives some idea of the topics covered.

The first 5 speakers all followed the topic ‘Are you riding straight?’ .  Line Greve MRCVSwho is at the AHT has done a study with Sue Dyson on saddle slip and hind limb lameness.  They used over 400 horses in work and interestingly,  of these,  she said that over 40% showed subclinical lameness.  She found that in 80% of cases the saddle slipped to the side of the lame hindlimb and when blocked out both saddle slip and rider crookedness were cured or significantly improved.

This was followed on by Haydn Price Dip WCF Lead Farrier World Class Programme.  In his inimitable Welsh accent he caught our imagination with his in depth presentation on theimportance of the limb and lever arm in asymmetry of movement.

Vicky Spalding MCSP ACPAT BEF World Class Programme followed.  Her job is to help the horse achieve dynamic symmetry and postural control.  She picks up compensatory changes which cause spinal midline deviation and potentially asymmetrical muscle development affecting straightness.  A couple of notes from her study….. riders unconsciously spend more time on the left rein in the warm up and horses tending to land more on the left lead had more jumping faults on the right rein.    She highlighted the problems of young horses being expected to work above their maturity level.

Mark Fisher RVM Consultant Master Saddler BEF World Class Programme followed exploring the role of the saddle in interaction between horse and rider.  He uses Gait analysis and the Pliance pressure mapping system.  We watched footage of a horse jumping wearing the Pliance.  Some points from this included:  The highest peak of pressure when the horse landed from the fence was when the second front leg came down, this horse had saddle slippage to the right on the left rein only and when he made the saddle stay straight the horse showed greater hock flexion, carpal and elbow flexion and a more symmetrical stride pattern.  Peak pressure was reduced by up to 20%.

Louise Broom MCSP then discussed the prevalence of rider asymmetry and possible causes.  She works with a mechanical horse and a camera behind the rider.  She demonstrated 5 types of crookedness.  1  Trunk lean  2  Ribcage lateral shift  3  Pelvic lateral shift  4  Shoulder girdle shift  5  Pelvic lateral tilt – her message was that if rider weight distribution is uneven there is a risk for the horse’s musculo skeletal system.

The strong message from this topic was that you need to identify the root cause of saddle slippage and not just treat the symptoms.  If only we could all have access to such a team of experts!

We then had a presentation showing us  A 3D interactive web tool which is being marketed as a new learning tool for vets, farriers and students.  It looks good. Have a look ‘

The second topic The World Scene kicked off with Andrew Finding who delivered the paper for Sonke Lauterbach Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer , German National Federation.  It was a hugely thought provoking consideration of the World wide challenges in the 21st Century for breeding horses, keeping horses and using horses in sport today and in the future  He touched on many subjects and I’ve included some of these below:

The importance of the public perception of horses is in a world where an increasing percentage of our population humanise animals and don’t have any contact with large animals.

Cultural differences , the horse as a sports partner or friend and in other countries as a common dish.

Business class travel for our World Class horses and long sad journeys for the less fortunate.  The need for a partnership between the FEI and OIE (World Health) to improve transport times, smooth travel and effective disease control.

The need for a central European registration centre for Health control and infectious diseases.

Another interesting one…training methods (microflexion) he spoke of the difficulty to judge in the warm up if it’s ok or aggressive riding ie when to intervene.  ‘If we don’t speak with one voice we remain vulnerable to rights activists – those who protest without technical knowledge.’

Top horses are competing 20 times or more a year helped by modern globalisation 5* all over the world aimed at a small group of riders and horses.  The idea of restricting the number of starts has been raised in the past but has not come back on the agenda.

The lowering of age of young horse classes is against the patient training of the up and coming horses.

Increasing costs:  travel, hotels, grooms, stabling – is the sport becoming one for the upper class?  Political and public perception of riders is already that they are upper class.

There is a consideration of a tax on each horse in Germany which would cause a strong decrease in sport.  In Swedish law a horse has to have access to 8 hours of pasture or meadow land a day.

Society does not accept a sport where animals are being manipulated  In extreme we have to defend ourselves in using the horse as a sports partner, one day we will all be confronted with such stupid discussions.

Anti Doping USA  versus EU discussion  Different cultural approaches needed.  EU couldn’t and shouldn’t accept rules which would put our sport in danger.

Endurance problems are putting enormous danger on sport as a whole and the work of the Endurance planning group is of utmost importance to all of us.

Species appropriate keeping and training is needed and we must not give way to idealogical animal welfare activists

The right answers are needed to idealogical people  Not a matter of being right but successful , not based on ideology but on science and facts.  He stressed the need to keep the public informed on horses needs.

The FEI, it’s growth and impact on developing nations was the next topic. Ingmar De Vos Secretary General, International Equestrian Federation spoke about the key factors that influence the growth and development of equestrian sport in developing countries.  Some key points:  132 member  nations  7 disciplines  3557 International events in 2013  At a meeting later this year in Paris the FEI and OIE are hoping to approve a High Health,  High Performance strategy.  Risk factors of growth:   Welfare, Doping,  Integrity (cultural differences),  match fixing  – an example he gave was the failure of a country running an International fixture to invite other countries to participate to ensure home side Olympic qualification!!)

Owen Paterson MP Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs was due to speak next giving the Defra View but had to be in Parliament so Alick Simmons Deputy Chief ‘veterinary Officer for Defra stood in and spoke about the problems of fly grazing, Passports, Ragwort, Central Equine Information System.

After an excellent lunch the afternoon session Responsible Breeding and horse ownership was covered by four speakers.  A passionate speaker Roly Owers MRCVS  ‘Do you need to breed’ – why we must address the root cause of the UK horse crisis  I guess we all know this one only too well?

Head of Welfare and Behaviour from Redwings Horse Sanctuary Nicolas de Brauwere MRCVSspoke on ‘What future for problem horses – irresponsible owners have created a problem of more needy horses than we can help, but are these really problem horses? ‘

Following this was an eloquent talk given by Stephen Potter.  He outlined the fate of horses at the end of  World War 1 and he ably defended the decision to leave the thousands of horses who had been taken from England and USA into battle in France to the French butchers and then went on to compare our present day horses who face a downward spiral of neglect rather than the abbatoir  He highlighted an ignorance of good husbandry and argued against a permanent exclusion of horses from the food chain.  He expressed no confidence from the horse passport review ID and Drug control regime for horses.  He said he would love a call from Owen Paterson.

Paul Bittar was the final speaker on this topic ‘Medication and Control in Racing’  an overview of the BHA’s anti-doping programme.  Are suspensions a strong enough deterrent?  Welfare issues in the USA have put racing into decline.

Driving legacy from  2012 Jennie Price Chief Executive Officer, Sport England followed .  She congratulated people who work in the horse industry   ‘Politicians who experienced London now ‘get’ sport and get it’s power and broader social benefits.’  |The Ebony project in Peckham S E London is one of it’s grass roots projects and has given children who probably would never have had contact with a horse great benefits.

The President HRH The Princess Royal concluded the day.

I would thoroughly recommend this Forum as a thought -provoking and  enjoyable day .  Definitely worth the trip to London.

Carol Bennitt

F&I Association Annual Course 2014


IMG_0081The annual two-day training course for Fellows and BHSI’s was held at Addington Manor Equestrian Centre on Wednesday and Thursday, 8 and 9 January 2014. The dressage sessions were taken by Stephen Clarke, FBHS and the jumping sessions were taken by Yogi Breisner, FBHS. Both of these coaches really do not need any introduction! As usual, their coaching skills, expertise and imparted knowledge was outstanding and everyone who either partook as a rider or spectated, managed to take away nuggets of information that would help them with their future coaching and/or riding.

Both coaches had full days of teaching: Stephen taught private or semi-private sessions and Yogi taught riders grouped according to the horse’s level of ability. Throughout the two days, Yogi and Stephen gave 100% and there was not one rider who felt that they did not benefit from their expertise and advice. The first day of any course is when the horses and riders settle into the venue, the psyche of the coach and it is when the coach finds out (often for the first time) the training needs of each horse. The recent stormy weather across the UK had meant that a number of horses had not been able to undertake normal work routines before the course and as a result were a little fresh at the start of the sessions. This energy was used to good advantage in many cases, as natural impulsion offered free of charge is rare!

IMG_0116In all, Stephen coached a total of twelve riders per day and Yogi coached a total of twenty-five riders per day. All of the riders were either Fellows or BHSI’s apart from one Intermediate Instructor. Stephen’s horse ranged from a 4-year old Lusitano who had never been away from his yard to an Advanced horse ready to embark on his first Grand Prix; Yogi taught groups of riders ranging from young horses to those jumping comfortably at 1m 20cm.

Stephen’s method of teaching is calm, focused and practical; he has the God-given knack of being able to pin-point exactly what is required to enable the rider to make improvements in their horse. Naturally, he adapted his plans and comments to each individual horse but he focused on rhythm, balance and contact. He expected looseness in the horses and asked riders to ride many transitions to ensure the horse was in front of the leg – ‘fast forward out’ was one comment often heard. Tense and/or stiff horses were asked to work over their backs in a round, deep frame thereby encouraging whole-body movement and better connection. He also asked riders to perform leg-yielding, shoulder-in, travers and half pass to improve and build upon responsiveness and suppleness. Stephen also suggested that the young horses would benefit from some gymnastic jumping exercises to improve reaction, suppleness and impulsion.

As a world-renowned, FEI International-level judge, riders and observers benefited from his experience when he offered many useful training tips to help riders to gain higher test marks, such as the riding of canter-pirouettes on the centre line; he highlighted the difference between how a professional and amateur rider manages this movement to improve their marks. When the rider performed the pirouette like a ‘professional’, it was evident how much better the movement was executed.

Other phrases and sentences Stephen used were: ‘Controlling from the outside rein and suppling from the inside’; when asking for a few half-steps in piaffe, he said he expected, ‘an electric reaction and then invite them into the rhythm’, and when working in passage, he expected ‘energy in slow motion’ and that the horse should come out of the movement in ‘fast forward’. One particular sentence that resonated with me was that after a training session, the horse should ‘go out humming to himself’. Overall, on the second day, as so often happens, the horses were more settled and really started to show better quality work.

IMG_0121Yogi started his day at 0830hrs and ended at 1745hrs with only diet Coke to nourish him! From where he gets the stamina, I do not know! On each day, Yogi worked with his riders on a different theme. Yogi is a great communicator and is passionate about imparting knowledge to all he trains. In many similar coaching situations, the coach is inaudible when talking to and briefing his riders but Yogi insisted on standing his riders near the seating area, which meant spectators could hear and be involved in the sessions – much appreciated by all.

Yogi knew many of his riders but not the horses, so he had to find out about them as soon as he could. He asked them to warm-up in and around the jumps to supple them up and make them obedient to the riders. He also asked riders to perform transitions and lateral work, depending upon the horse’s ability and experience. On the first day, he worked riders over ground poles in trot, punctuated with walk transitions to gain better respect to the riders and to improve horse balance. Yogi explained how this exercise improved ‘foot/eye’ co-ordination. He then worked on an exercise using trot poles to walk, the trot to a placing pole and small vertical, land in canter, ride eight level strides to another small vertical. This exercise was ridden on both reins to improve, ‘rideability, expression and engagement of the hindlegs’. Yogi was adamant that the rider should not disturb the horse’s ‘rhythm, balance and co-ordination’. He also stated that ‘forward’ was ‘a mental attitude’ – something many riders are unaware of. Throughout the course, Yogi reminded riders that ’the rider is responsible for controlling the horse and not vice versa’.

Once the riders had successfully negotiated the trot exercise, Yogi asked them to ride over a course of fences, which was progressively developed – especially with the youngsters. The accent was placed upon even, level canter strides between jumps so that the horses could settle into a balanced canter rhythm around the course and especially between related jumps.

On the second day, Yogi began with a grid of bounce jumps. Initially, riders worked over poles on the floor set at a bounce distance; then the middle bounce of five was put up and riders cantered to this off both reins; ultimately, riders worked over five bounces to improve rhythm, balance and co-ordination. One of Yogi’s many coaching strengths was to adapt his exercises to the individual needs of the horses. In one earlier session, a young horse was reluctant to work down over the bounces so immediately Yogi adapted the exercise to encourage this horse to work confidently over the grid, whilst ensuring the other riders in the group were kept busy working on another exercise. At the conclusion of this session, the young horse that had struggled ended up jumping the five bounces as well as working over a small course of jumps including a water tray.

Yogi went on to explain how ‘riding is about solving problems – what separates the men from the boys (women from the girls!) is that when things go wrong they can meet the problem head on and tackle it’. With all the groups, Yogi asked them to jump a course of fences working on level, even strides between fences and in particular turns between jumps, and explained in detail how the horse and rider needed to be positioned to enable optimum performance and approach. Some of the angles he asked the riders to attempt were challenging but even though some riders struggled at the start they all managed to successfully jump them at the end of the session.

Both Yogi and Stephen were inspirational coaches over the two days and everyone went away from Addington feeling inspired to ride and coach to another level.

IMG_0083With all the coaching expertise available throughout the two days, the opportunity was taken to run several training and study groups. On the first day, there was Fellowship training given by Darryl Scaife and Sue Payne for those BHSI’s who wanted to find out more about what the examination entailed; on the second day, Lizzel Winter took a jumping Study Group and Jenny Ward took a dressage Study Group for interested persons – as one can imagine, both sessions were full within minutes of being advertised!

Thank you to Stephen and Yogi, our two, very hard-working and inspirational coaches – it was great. A very big thank you must also go to Ann Bostock who organised the riders for the course; as anyone knows who has had to do this task, it is difficult but Ann made it look easy – thank you very much Ann.

Jeremy Michaels, FBHS

Chairman’s Report, AGM 2014

Welcome, we now have 206 paid up members this is all due to Judith Murphy.  2013 continued to be a busy year with the great unwashed British Public having a better idea of what horses and their riders can achieve following London 2012.

Meanwhile the F&I Association has been equally as busy, especially a small group within the committee. Without these good ladies, Ann, Jude and Di, I would be very lost.  Taking over in January last year from Jeremy and Jo, I had some large boots to fill.  However, my typing and PC skills have improved!  I must reiterate Jeremy’s thanks of last year to Sally Newcomb for the much easier to navigate website.  This is a public site and we need to use it to sell ourselves.

I must also thank Sam Champney-Warrener for setting up the Facebook page.  Welcome to all those of you who use it – and use it we must.  It’s there for members only so put out what you’re doing – others may benefit from your ideas. Don’t treat this page or the web page as only for reports.  None of us who’ve gained these qualifications are shrinking violets because those people don’t usually become Fellows or I’s, so use these tools.

Following last year’s Annual Course, it occurred to me that as an Association, we did not have our own insurance.  So, if there were to be a serious accident we were relying on the insurances of the Coach and/or venue.  In these days of litigation I have put in place insurance for the F&I Association under the umbrella of the BHS. Read more Chairman’s Report, AGM 2014