Tag Archives: British Horse Society

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Coronavirus – How it affects equestrians

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It is without question that these are unprecedented times for the whole of society, not to mention the equestrian community. It is increasingly difficult to get clear guidelines when the situation is constantly evolving and changing. So many equestrians are left with questions regarding what we can or can’t do with our horses during the Coronavirus pandemic. Here at Horse Scout, the CEO Lucienne Elms and all the team will endeavour to keep you as updated as possible with this ever-changing series of events.

 

On the 18th March, the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) called to cease all organised equestrian activity which is now more important then ever with the latest government measures to cease all bar essential travel, moving livery yards, taking your horses schooling or to clinics is NOT essential travel, however transporting to the vets for emergency care is allowed.

 

As most will already be aware following recent government advice, British Dressage, British Show Jumping and British Eventing have taken the responsible action to reduce the risk of the virus spreading by cancelling all competitions. This will be for a four week period to begin with however, this will of course be monitored and possibly prolonged if needs be. It is vital that the equestrian community takes the necessary precautions to protect both themselves and others.

 

Following the Government directive last night (Monday 23rd March – 8.30pm) to cease all bar essential travel, the British Horse Society released the following statement this morning (Tuesday 24th March):

“Horse welfare is critical and grooms or the sole carer for a horse should travel to provide care for horses. Where horses are kept in livery the BHS advises that horse owners respect the protocol put in place by the yard owner or manager and work as a team to agree a care plan for your horse(s).

We are getting a lot of questions in relation to riding your horse, for which there are no specific government guidelines at present. We advise that it is not appropriate to put unnecessary pressure on the emergency services and everyone should make their own individual decision as to whether riding is necessary at this time.

The health and welfare of your horse is your priority. If you have any concerns please contact your vet, yard manager or the BHS and we will do our best to assist you.”

 

Current advice for horse owners.

If you have your horse on DIY livery, you are essentially renting a stable and field from the yard, you are therefore the sole care provider for the animal and can visit the yard to care for him as you would do normally whilst ensuring social distancing and good hygiene. It is possible that if the pandemic develops, some larger yards may provide a rota of allocated time slots for individuals to go up and care for their horses to minimise contact. It is important for yards to keep owners updated with what restrictions they will have in place and it is crucial that owners respect their yards protocol.

 

It is also advised that owners have a back-up plan in place should they be unable to attend their horse for some reason. These measures would include, writing a care plan for each horse so that others would know exactly how to care for your horse in your absence, ensure that you have sufficient supplies in the sense of feed, bedding etc (without panic buying) and keeping in touch with other liveries and yard owners.

 

Download a copy of the Horse Scout Emergency Horse Care Notes here.

 

For full and part livery owners, it may well be that your yard is temporarily closed to ensure minimal contact. In this instance, the grooms will be the horses primary carers, please do respect that this may well be an increasingly busy and stressful time for them. Protocol for individual yards may vary so regular communication between yard and owners is very important at this time.

 

Should you be riding? 

There are currently no specific guidelines regarding whether you should be riding your horse, but both the BHS and the British Equestrian Federation have advised for you to take the relevant care should you decide to ride at this time. It may be that you avoid riding a fresh youngster, avoid hacking on busy roads, or any activities that may increase the risk of you injuring yourself. It is vital that we support our NHS at this time and follow the BEF advice by not participating in any organised activity including traveling your horse for lessons or schooling, having a coach to your yard, having a lesson at a riding centre and riding in large groups. Please do remember that this is only a temporary measure, if we are more careful now it will benefit us and the wider community in the long-term.

 

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Current advice for yards / grooms / freelancers.

Employers and yard owners have a duty of care to their staff and liveries, it is important to encourage all staff and owners to follow the governments advice regarding biosecurity. It is advisable to have sufficient access to hand washing facilities and where possible, supply hand sanitiser on the premises, posters are available online to display around the yard to encourage hand washing.

 

It is important to come up with a contingency plan should any member of staff need to self-isolate, this may include looking into freelance cover or training other staff members to be able to cover others work. Should a member of staff become ill / need to self-isolate, the government has announced that it will fund two weeks statutory sick pay. Boris Johnson has announced measures to help those who have been financially impacted by the virus. View the latest government advice here.

 

The Equestrian Employers Association has released some helpful advice which can be found using the following link – https://equestrianemployers.org.uk/news/433/advice-for-employers-on-coronavirus.

 

There is no doubt this is a worrying time for freelancers due to not being entitled to Statutory Sick pay but there may be an increasing amount of work available from yards with staff off work due to the virus. Horse Scout recommend the use of the networking side of the website to reach out to local yards near yourself on the Horse Scout yards page to let them know that you are available to help should they need it. Equally, if you haven’t already, it may be useful to create a freelance groom profile for free on Horsescout.com so that yard owners are able to find you.

 

The government have released measures to help ease financial pressures for freelancers including the possibility for Universal credit and help if you can’t pay your Tax bill. Further help regarding this can be found on the official government site here.

 

Helpful Links:

Gov.uk: COVID-19: support for businesses

GOV.UK: COVID-19: guidance for employees

HM Treasury: How to access government financial support if you or your business has been affected by COVID-19

National Federation of Self Employed and Small Businesses

 

We hope that by providing you with as much relevant information as possible, you can feel assured to take the necessary precautions during this pandemic.

 

Most importantly stay safe.

 

 

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Trainers in Focus: Eventing Nick Gauntlett

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Nick Gauntlett - Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials 2010

In the first part of our “Trainers in Focus” Series, we catch up with popular trainer Nick Gauntlett. Nick is “a fellow of the British Horse Society” which means he holds the highest level of BHS coaching qualification and is also is one of a small and illustrious group to hold the title of “British Eventing Master Coach”. On top of that, he has competed at the highest level for a number of years and was the rider responsible for producing the great stallion, Chilli Morning to four star level.

 

What are the key things you focus on when teaching jumping?

 

Rhythm and energy. The consistency of these two things is far more important than getting to the right spot at the fence. Even over big fences, if you have great rhythm and energy, you can get away with being a bit off the right spot for take-off. Whereas, you can hit the perfect spot but if you don’t have the rest of it, the jump can feel awkward.

 

How do you teach riders to find a rhythm and see a stride?

I have a few methods, one is to get them to count in a regular rhythm whilst they approach fences. I also get riders to approach a show jump with their eyes closed or looking away. It works unbelievably well in proving to riders that they don’t need to look at a fence to find a stride.”

 

How do you know if you have enough energy approaching a fence?

“In terms of energy levels, you have to keep checking that the horse is truly in front of the leg. Imagine if you are driving a Ferrari and you hit the accelerator, you would feel a surge of power. Where as if you are driving an old Land Rover in the wrong gear, it is all going to feel a huge effort. Andrew Nicholson once said “if it feels nice, you’re not going fast enough”. I have changed this to “if it feels nice, you’re not good enough”. So you need to feel you are a bit out of your comfort zone and then there will probably be enough power.”

 

What are common rider faults which you often see?

The position of the leg and upper body position is often at fault and one that is likely to effect the safety and security of the rider. I tell people to imagine their horse has disappeared from underneath them and ask themselves whether their feet would still support them, whether they are jumping a cross-country fence or down a huge drop. When a rider is ahead of the movement, with their full weight resting on the horse on take-off, the horse’s jump will inevitably be compromised and from a safety point of view, this is a big concern.”

 

How do you develop a more secure seat?

If you are relaxed and soft in the knee and thigh, you will have a more secure lower leg. Whereas if your knee and thigh is tight, it will become a pivot, which will send the lower leg backwards and the body forwards.

 

Why is a light seat and soft knee so important?

It is amazing how relaxed you can make a sensitive horse feel by being soft through your knee and thigh and having a light seat. I often see riders, see a stride and then start driving with their seat, three strides out. This frequently ends up with them missing the stride and you send the front of the horses forwards and the back end, backwards. I tell riders to imagine having drawing pins in the seat and knee areas of their saddle, to encourage them to be light

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What’s your advice for shaving seconds off your cross-country time?

Many people think it’s just about riding faster but actually, you can save more time by just kicking away from each fence. So think of it as saving a second per fence by just landing and kicking as it gets you back into your rhythm as quickly as possible.

 

What should I think about when planning the perfect cross-country round?

When deciding your approach to a fence, remember that you have walked the course and understand the problem ahead, whilst it is completely new to the horse.

I put fences into three groups:

  1. Fence with a sloping profile e.g. steeplechase
  2. Fence with an upright profile e.g. five bar gate
  3. Combination fence- rail, ditch rail

 

Jumping a fence with a sloping profile, a rider should feel confident to let the horse jump out of their stride without changing the rhythm.

 

Jumping an upright fence- we call these “new old fashioned fences” as we see an awful lot more these days. Course Designers at top level talk about designing to encourage “rider responsibility” and this will trickle down to designing at lower levels. As a rider we need to learn from the outset, to get into that defensive position. Keep the energy but allow the horse to see and assess the fence when approaching an upright.  

 

For a combination fence, you should be thinking about which gear to be in and this depends not just on the type of fence but also the experience of the horse. For example, if you are approaching a rail-ditch-rail, all the horse sees as they approach, is the rail. You need to convey to the horse that there is something a bit different about this. It’s like dropping from fifth to third gear- the car slows down but the revs go wild. You mustn’t take the energy away but you have controlled the speed, allowing the horse to understand what is ahead.

The more experienced the horse, the quicker they understand and react to the problem and yours and your horse’s experience should dictate what gear you choose. If you’re just moving up a level, you probably need to give your horse more time so will need a lower gear.

 

I always tell riders to be careful watching other riders jump through fences and basing their decision on that. It doesn’t necessarily mean that is right for your horse’s level of experience. Intermediate can be the worse for that as you have horses just moving up from Novice level. Then you also come across a four star horse having a spin and they make it look effortless. 

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Written by Ellie Kelly

Handsome and Classic Licensed Hanoverian: Classic Juan

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Witchan Farm Stud stands Classic Juan a 16.2h Dark Bay Licensed Hanoverian Stallion with nothing but good feedback on breeders forums for the progeny he is siring.  The consensus is he throws classic form with a laid back approach and easy temperaments, and their photographs show he passes on his handsome head too..

Classic Juan has the Cor De La Bryere line on his sires side and the fabulous state stallion Werther (Wendekreis).  On his Dam’s side he has Don Juan; powerful and impressive “Hanoverian Stallion of the Year” in 1997. His progeny have earned more than 75 million Euros in competitions. One of his very successful offspring is Dulf. With his rider Leslie McNaught he was part of the Swiss team that won the silver medal at the European Show Jumping Championships in Hickstead 1999. So if you are looking for the archetypal Hanoverian this breeding is first class. Classic Juans’ Horse Scout listing has some great photos which show his classic conformation well.

Bred and started at the German Hanoverian State Stud in Celle Classic Juan was born in 2000. After his rigorous 300 day performance test he was bought by Witcham House Farm Stud.

Proving his performance talent he is turning his abilities to a Dressage career.

Classic Juan won 26 affiliated classes and is graded Medium with 157 BD Points. Classic Juan qualified for 2007 winter semis in music at Elementary and Medium also qualified for Rhinegold International young horse championships at Hickstead as a 5 and 6 year old. Classic Juan also events successfully with 2 wins at BE100 and numerous placings and in 2012 he has been Show Jumping with 6 wins from 8 starts.

Since Classic Juan (CJ) started breeding his foals have been winning at County Shows, Hanoverian Regionals and placed up to third at the British Dressage Breeders Nationals and the Hanoverian Annual Shows. He is proving very popular with Breeders as his foals have his beautiful head, good conformation and brave personality. His colt scored 8.8, the highest mark for a dressage foal in the Futurity Evaluations in 2006. His offspring Classic Prada was awarded the highest mark ever 9.75 and Elite Premium in 2008 the judges gave her 3 x 10s for movement. 2 of his foals have also been awarded first Premiums for Eventing. Classic Juan was one of the only stallions to receive a stallion progeny performance award by the British Equestrian Federation 2009 when Classic Juan led the Sire rankings for overall and for Dressage.

You can find Classic Juans’ profile page on www.horsescout.co.uk here : http://www.horsescout.co.uk/horses/profile/710