F&I Autumn Newsletter, October 2020

Dear Member,

Well, we all had a pleasant, fairly Covid-free summer, although better weather would have made a difference after that very dry April and May.  Here in Ireland it just didn’t seem to know when to stop raining, and I believe it’s been a wee bit damp elsewhere too!  However, somehow the harvest was gathered in even though yields were much lower than hoped.

As soon as lockdown eased, horses were brought back in from the fields and the competitions started in earnest.  People dashed from one event to the next as if each event/show might be the last. It has been most interesting to see people at shows and events masked up as they take the whole Covid pandemic seriously, whilst there is still a lot of ‘hugging’ when a goal is scored in football matches!  Horse Sport Ireland has issued various diktats, and we are, for the most part, well-behaved competitors.

Our ‘active’ Assessors here in Ireland have been busy with the new ‘devolved’ Stages Assessments.  I’m unsure about others but myself and Faith Ponsonby feel they are helpful for the candidates.  We have both decided that when we meet the candidates, initially, we will stand back to our 2 metres, remove the mask and show the candidate that we can and do smile and to watch for the crinkle at the corner of our eyes!  So far, this seems to have helped nervous candidates!!

What an odd year, no Badminton, Burghley or Ladies Day at Hickstead – but there was a fabulous F&I training day organised by the indomitable Ann Bostock (if I was Coronavirus I’d be scared) with Judy Harvey.  As usual, Judy pulled out all the stops and those who were able to make the day had a full-on day of coaching.

What a fantastic Webinar organised for us by Amanda Holloway with our premier Applied Psychologist in the equestrian world, founder of Centre 10, Charlie Unwin.  Diary date the return of Charlie on March 1st, more details will be available in the New Year.  Meantime I’m looking forward to the Russell Mackechnie-Guire Biomechanics evening on November 4th – organiser Ruth Baxter. This has to be the time when I congratulate Russell’s other /better half Erik for successfully adding himself to the Fellows’ Wall of Fame in the BHS offices.   Very well done Erik, no easy task, we are all so very pleased for you.

And we have a great breeding day booked March 24th – get that in the diary for next year too.  Huge thanks to all our intrepid organisers.

As January draws steadily closer and we look forward to the F&I Annual Course, your Committee is very aware of the constantly changing pandemic scenarios.  I think it better I don’t mention some of the thoughts re the organisation of the two days, should we find ourselves still with travel restrictions and the like.  Suffice to say, the committee, led by Ann Bostock, has all options in hand and we are determined to hold whatever parts of the Annual Course that we possibly can.  We have another committee meeting in early December and will keep all participants updated.  Meanwhile, as you are all aware, we have made certain reductions to the Annual Course fees, and if you had hoped to attend but can’t (for whatever reason) then other days in the coming year will carry reduced fees for members.

Sadly, Sister Chiara Hatton Hall FBHS died in September at the great age of 90.  A wonderful woman, an icon and for me the person who did so much to shape my life within the horse world.  The Galloping Nun, Cherrie – and I didn’t get to call her Cherrie until she attended the F&I day at Hickstead some years ago, only the school girls were allowed to call her Cherrie, for us staff she was Mrs Hatton Hall… and quite right too.

As we now approach the winter and the season of colds and ‘flu (and I daren’t even mention the threats of tiers, further Covid lockdowns, more travel restrictions etc), we will all need to be just that little bit more careful.  I sincerely hope that all of you are staying healthy.

It just remains for me to say “Take Care, Stay Safe” and I look forward to seeing you again soon, on Zoom or in person!

Best wishes


STOP PRESS.  You will all have heard Republic of Ireland is back to Level 5 Lockdown and all that this means.  Travel restrictions of 5KM unless……………..so Thomasina Trek will have to come back out of the shed and I’ll be back on me bike for 12 miles a day.

“BREATHE AND FLOW, little Jillie” as Cherrie would have said when I was getting anxious.