History of the Association of Fellows and Instructors of the BHS

The F&I Association was the brainwave of Pat Smallwood FBHS and Barbara Slane Fleming FBHS in 1986. At that time there were very few conferences, or study days for instructors of BHSI and FBHS level. The one that was an annual event in the Whitbread Room at Stoneleigh was the BHS Training & Examinations Study Day, which was “by invitation only”.  It was valuable but only a limited number of Instructors were invited.  The concept of the F&I Association was to run many excellent study days and training opportunities in the form of riding, observation and discussion, to all Fellows and Instructors of the BHS. 

The first Chairman was Barbara Slane Fleming FBHS and Pat Smallwood FBHS was the first Secretary /Treasurer.  The committee was formed of Marie Stokes FBHS, Pammy Sivewright (now Hutton) FBHS, Sue Payne FBHS, Islay Auty BHSI and Alec Lyall BHSI.  At the first AGM on 8th December 1986, there were 36 Fellows and BHSI’s present, with apologies from 20 others.

From 1987, Jenny Ward BHSI took over as Secretary/Treasurer, and Pat Smallwood stayed on the committee. 

A video library was set up in 1987 with videos given by members or purchased by the F & I Association.  Members could borrow a video from the library from a meeting or they could be posted.  The stock included videos such as the set by Reiner Klimke, two by Gill Watson on jump training, a set by Kyra Kyrkland, Maria Gunther’s Training the Dressage Horse, and many others.  Paul Ingram BHSI and Sue Payne organised the library, which was very popular particularly in the winter months. 

In January 1988 Pat Smallwood died. She left a legacy to be used as a Training Fund for “destitute young instructors” wanting to further their careers, and the Pat Smallwood Training Award was formed (see separate history of this Award).

At the December 1988 AGM, Barbara Slane Fleming retired as Chairman, as she was finding the journey from Northumberland increasingly difficult.  A proposal was put forward to elect Barbara Slane Fleming FBHS as President of the F & I Association and the vote was unanimous.

The Chairman in her report congratulated two Fellows and one BHSI who represented G.B. in our Olympic teams: Jennie Loriston-Clarke, Tricia Gardiner, and Ian Stark.  Trainers of members of our Olympic team who are also Fellows or BHSI’s were Bill Noble, Paul Fielder, Pat Manning, Jane Bartle-Wilson and Barbara Slane Fleming.  The Chairman also congratulated Gill Watson FBHS on her continuing success with the GB Junior and Young Rider teams.

Sue Payne was made Chairman and Judy Cammaerts (now Harvey) FBHS was voted onto the Committee.

In 1989 Jo Knowles FBHS presented a beautiful bronze of a horse’s head that she had designed and made to be presented annually to the winner of the Pat Smallwood Award.

In 1990, 55 members were present at the AGM, and, amongst other suggestions, a foreign visit was suggested for a group of F & I members. This took several years to get off the ground but eventually a superb foreign trip was organized for 8 enthusiastic F&I members visited German studs, training yards and sales preparation venues, ably shepherded by Margot Tiffany.  In addition, several members have regularly attended the Global Dressage Forum and Verden Sales over the years.

Many F&I events became established annual events, and several became fundraisers for the Pat Smallwood Award.   Talland have been very generous in running an Annual Study Day where members ride the Advanced horses under the beady eyes of Pammy Hutton (and in earlier days also Molly Sivewright FBHS), which was followed by discussion.  The takings from these days were donated to the Pat Smallwood Fund.  Kenneth Clawson also donated money from his training days to the fund. Malcolm Brown ran the London marathon one year with sponsorship to the Pat Smallwood fund, along with many others who have contributed over the years.

A competition was run to design a logo for the F&I Association in the late 90’s.  Sally Newcomb BHSI won, and this excellent logo is still being used on all official paperwork. Sally also runs the F&I website for us all.

The Annual Course, nowadays usually held in January at Addington, Bucks, has become the highlight of many F&I members’ annual calendar, with top trainers taking both Dressage and Jumping for 2 days in the adjacent indoor schools.  At the annual AGM and Members-only Dinner on the first evening, there is always a great atmosphere at the dinner with lots of “catching up” by members and some form of entertainment or an after-dinner speaker.  Ann Bostock BHSI has been responsible for running the successful Annual Courses for many years – a single-handed tour-de-force.

Another tour-de force is Faith Ponsonby, who organises an annual trip for F&I members to visit Ireland’s most prestigious studs and training yards.

At the Annual Course and AGM/ dinner in January 2013 we were pleased to welcome the new BHS Chief Executive of the British Horse Society, Lynn Petersen, who asked about the F&I Association and its aims and discussed many issues with members.  Lynn presented certificates to newly qualified BHSI’s.  The Association tries to maintain these close links with the British Horse Society Chief Executive and with their Education and Training department team, and we all really appreciate the ongoing support from the BHS.

In 2014, the Chairman of the BHS Trustees, Patrick Print FBHS, arranged for the F&I Association to be invited to the BHS stand for Ladies Day Saturday at the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead.  This has now become an annual event and is a great summer catch-up opportunity for members.  

More recently we have been able to enjoy the enhanced facilities at Wellington, courtesy of David Sheerin BHSI.  Events have included a Summer Camp as well as several training and study days throughout the year.

Any members can arrange suitable Study Days on any subject, including visits to studs, tutored course-walks at 5* events, and discussion sessions at training yards.  Some events are listed as open, which means that a Member may take a guest(s) with them; other events are members-only.  The Annual Course and usually a couple of other courses each year will count as official CPD for BHS Accredited Professional Coaches and other trainers.  The program of events is always available on the Association of Fellows and Instructors website, and on the F&I Association closed Facebook page.

We are very grateful to Pat Smallwood and Barbara Slane Fleming for their brainwave. The Association has gone on to have an illustrious and eventful first 30+ years – and the hard work that has been put into the success of the F&I Association by the Chairmen, Secretaries, Treasurers and Committee members has been immense.  All have contributed hugely to the success of the Association.