F&I Autumn Newsletter 2023

Dear F&I Member,

Well, where does the time go? How have we arrived at the end of September already? I don’t know about you, but I find the year seems to whizz past faster than ever. I guess like so many of you, being super busy, the days merge into weeks and then months and you blink and it’s already blackberry time again, and the horses’ coats are starting to turn…

What a super run-up to autumn we have had, with a couple more F&I events to keep us occupied and chances to catch up with each other. Please do read all the reports, if you have not done so already, irrespective whether you were there in person or not. It’s always so interesting to read from someone else’s perspective, and I’ve found I often re-visit the reports later for a second read.

We had our Eric Smiley course walk at Burghley, and of course the feedback was superb. We are so lucky to have such an experienced BHS Fellow who is also such an incredible communicator, helping us all absorb high level competition course walking and discussion and still feel we can take away simple but vital messages that are relevant to all levels that we are coaching at home. Eric comes across so clearly, and you can see his understanding of the modern-day competition demands and how that shapes his training and coaching philosophies and systems. I was not lucky enough to attend Burghley this time, but I’ve sat with Eric on many occasions and find him to be of the most inspirational and influential coaches and true trainers of horses that I’ve known. Thank you again Eric for your time and wisdom. Also, a great thank you to Ann Bostock for organising this event yet again.

The other excellent event we have had is the recent “Let’s Focus on Show Jumping” day that Jen Morris BHSI organised up in Scotland. I am so delighted that Jen’s vision is on what Coach Education, CPD and sharing of good practice can look like and I think all those who attended will agree it was an outstanding day that provides a very relevant template for future events and CPD. Quoting the words from Anne Bondi’s report: “The day was exceptionally well attended, which clearly demonstrated the need for educational opportunities of this calibre”. This is music to my ears, and this style of CPD sits so well with my vision for F&I events.

Jen and I have also started to plan the first F&I “Coaching Conference”. This will be at Morris Equestrian Centre in Scotland, 7th and 8th October 2024, with Ferdi Eilberg and John Ledingham, and is going to be a very different type of conference, being a fully interactive two days, with thought-provoking workshops and facilitated learning throughout. Trust me it will be well worth the journey – it’s a cheap flight if booked well in advance, or, as I’ve done recently, go on the train – it was surprisingly cheap, hassle free and such a lovely visual journey, plus you can get some admin done on the way. We can organise transfers from the airport or train station to the hotel and conference venue if needed. Jen has also managed to secure a Saturday night stayover package, more details in due course. Get it in the diary now!

So, what else have we got in store for our wonderful F&I Association? We will have a fascinating Hartpury Study Day organised by Jude Murphy FBHS on Thursday 7th December and our always-superb Talland Study Day 19th March – get those dates in your diaries now. Also we will be organising a few winter evening zoom sessions again, so any suggestions of themes and subjects, please don’t be shy, contact Danny Anholt FBHS and we will get them put together.

Obviously, the big event is our fabulous two-day Annual Course! I know so many of us rely on this event at the beginning of January to set us up for the year, with so much inspiration, education, networking and meeting old friends and new. This year our wonderful Ann Bostock has us back at Addington – 3rd /4th January 2024.

We will have Dickie Waygood MBE, Technical Director and Eventing Performance Manager as well as an outstanding coach in his own right, taking the jumping again, and we all look forward to seeing what exercises and patterns he will be putting us through. And we will have the wonderful Gareth Hughes for the dressage coaching. With so many major achievements to his name including the recent Team European champions 2023, I do not think we can get anyone more current and up to date then Gareth to lead us through two days of top dressage coaching! Wow what a treat for those lucky riders who get to have a lesson, but also for all of us who get to sit and watch and listen. This is what the F&I Association is all about.

As always, we are trying to pack in as much as possible into the two days, so we will have many study groups available for people to sign up to (and we have listened to feedback and will have more of these over the two days). Also we will have our lunchtimes full with activities, one being a lecture with our own Russell MacKechnie-Guire BHSI, PhD. Russell will be updating us on the research he has been doing involving tack and its effects on the horse’s biomechanics and well-being. Russell is an exceptional speaker, and he is helping us all in the future of sustainable equestrian and justification of our actions with riding, training and competing horses in an ethical way. Really looking forward to this.

Also we will run a Fellowship workshop, similar to last time, to help inspire and consolidate thoughts of those thinking of applying for the Big F!

We will have James Hick, CEO of the BHS, attending – a great opportunity to talk to him direct about all aspects of the BHS – as well as Tracey Casstles, BHS Director of Education, who can discuss any concerns we may have with assessments and assessing and much more.

We obviously have the all-important AGM, followed by our Annual Dinner – such a great chance to discuss the day’s coaching, the year just gone, and all things horse! We will try and keep this evening as clear as possible as we recognise and value of the time to just have a jolly good catch up.

Please can I remind you all about the Annual Awards – any thoughts about members who you feel are worthy of a nomination, please do contact me. sam@samyork.co.uk

To remind you, the Awards are as follows:
Queen Elizabeth II Award. This new award last year, in memory of our late Queen, is for outstanding dedication to the Equine industry, as recognised by F&I.
The Pat Smallwood Award is for outstanding service to F&I and the membership.
The Achievement Award is for an F&I member who shows exceptional determination and commitment to the path they want to follow.
The Tom Searle Award is for a young up-and-coming F&I member who is supportive and inspirational for other up-and-coming members.

Please can I ask you all to get booked up for the Annual Course as soon as possible, as although it may seem a little way off yet, it helps the organisers so much if they know an idea of numbers in advance. In addition to that, you all know not to upset Ann, so please read all the course instructions very carefully!!

We will, as always, update you as we finalise all the 2024 events, many of the regular annual events we all love are in the pipeline already and details will be sent out as soon as they are set and ready for people to sign up. Please do let us know if you would like to organise an event or would like help to explore a concept and we can assist in getting new events up and running.

Last but not least, I’m very excited to announce that Gillian Higgins and I have been talking about the Horses Inside Out annual conference 17th/18th February 2024, at Loughborough University, which I cannot recommend highly enough. It really is a no-brainer as a coach to attend this conference if you want to be up to date with the latest research.

Gillian has very kindly agreed to offer F&I members a 10% discount, in addition to (if you book before the end of October) the early bird discount which in total allows F&I members to get a massive 35% discount. Gillian has also offered group bookings, and there is an evening dinner including an after-dinner speaker, where we could get an F&I table or two organised if people are interested? Please can you let me know asap about this and I can arrange it. You can book yourself for the conference tickets (CODE: FandI) – and do let me know if there are any issues with booking.
Please see the link for more details. https://www.horsesinsideout.com/c24

On a slightly different note, I’m delighted to say that there seems to be a big increase in people coming back to the BHS to look at finishing what they started with their qualifications. The BHS have been working very hard to promote what the BHS assessments involve and to provide an overview of how much these assessments are regulated and standardised, putting across the transparency of the qualification and that they are much more in line with how any professional qualification system should be in this day and age. Also the BHS highlight the approach of the amazing team of assessors who are all highly experienced and have the specific skill sets to provide a professional assessment using their highest level of integrity to ensure that they assess in line with transparent standards and set levels.
You would have all noticed that tweaks and changes are being made on request from the advisory groups, and this has certainly modernised the overall system without losing the important core subjects and principles that the BHS stand for. Some key F&I members have been fighting to get it to this stage and we salute you for doing that work. We may criticise certain aspects at times but honestly the BHS system is one of the very best world-wide!

I have been presenting at many of these BHS days up and down the country (College days and especially Stage Four days) and have been delighted to see so many people attend and that they have been obviously interested and engaged in the process. Listening and seeing the subjects presented, they feel more confident about coming back into the system and upskilling themselves and continuing with their qualifications. The Dressage route has attracted a lot of interest as many people say they just feel they cannot jump like they used to, but on closer examination they do realise it’s not just a “non-jumping route”, it’s a real pure dressage route – but it again brings up the discussion of what do we do about some of our very experienced and established BHS members who have so much to offer, but now feel they simply cannot ride to the level and therefore cannot continue up the coaching qualification ladder? We do have a few systems in place where prior learning and experience is taken into account via a CV type of system, but they still need to take an actual assessment to gain the next level of qualification. I know this does cause great debate and I believe that will go on, but I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Anyway, again, massive thanks to the whole committee who are working endlessly behind the scenes but especially Alison Craig, Judith Murphy, and Sam Champney-Warrener who run and communicate the activities of this Association so smoothly, so all credit to them. And the very best of luck to the candidates taking the Fellowship this time round, we are all very proud of you, irrespective of the results, good luck and kick on ….oops I can’t even say that anymore can I !!

Have a great autumn and see you all soon.

Kind regards,


Sam York FBHS, F&I Association Chair,
September 2023