RDA Challenge Day success

Despite dodging the ‘April’ showers, the annual Riding for the Disabled Challenge Day saw a record number of young riders from across the South East. Riders representing RDA groups from Sussex, Kent and Surrey converged on East Grinstead’s Felbridge Show Ground onThursday May 9 to display their riding skills in a range of activities.

These included the Countryside Challenge, which was a qualifying event for the RDA National Championships in Hartpury, Gloucestershire in July.

Most of the riders had come to go head-to-head in the Countryside Challenge which enjoyed the most entries ever, but there was also a dressage competition, a Handy Pony, Gymkhana games and the fabulous fancy dress which rounded off the day with a Children’s Books theme.

Liz Rubin of sponsors Cowan Architects presents Fairlight Hall’s Kitty Scarboro with second place rosette
Photo: Joanna Sale

This was judged by Liz Rubin from RDA’s regional sponsor, Cowan Architects, who selected Samber RDA as the ultimate winners with wonderfully home-crafted Little Red Riding Hood entry.

The Countryside Challenge follows a simulated course where the riders put their skills to the test by tackling obstacles and tasks they might find in the country. These include going through a gate, crossing a ‘road’, entering a farmyard, picking an apple from a tree and posting a letter. Although great fun, this also tests their steering, balance and confidence.

Chalkdown’s Robert Hall opens the gate on Merlin Photo: Joanna Sale

In the Countryside Challenge qualifiers, it was a clean sweep for East Park RDA (Newchapel) with Kyle Coleman and Darcy Brown, Orla Wynn, Erin Hunt and Olive Hamilton-Stent all enjoying qualifying places. Fairlight Hall RDA (Hastings) did the same in the senior section with Christopher Bigaignon snatching first for a second year running, and Christopher Tite qualifying in second place. Fairlight Hall also did well in the Independent Class, winning both Junior and Senior qualifying slots with Rosie Turner and Joe Roud respectively. Zoe House of Fairlight Hall also qualified in the Seniors.

Plumpton’s Hope in the Valley RDA stole the show in the another class with Stanley Porter and Fergus Tarr both going through.

It was a day when everyone was a winner but the dressage was dominated in one class by riders from Quest RDA (Chobham, Surrey) who were at the competition for the first time, and ended up enjoying the Newcomer’s Trophy for their successful day.

Quest’s Taha Kiyana picks an apple on Diablo
Photo: Joanna Sale

Bradbourne also did well in the Senior classes with Peter Broome winning twice and Eliza Daus also winning to build on their success from last year.

Samber RDA (Woking) celebrated a win with Hetty Nadin in the Junior dressage, as did Chalkdown (Staplehurst) with double winner, Paul Montgomery, who topped his class in both the Senior dressage and the Countryside Challenge.

Liz Rubin, an interior architect at Cowan Architects, presented the prizes and said “It was such a treat and an honour to participate in this inspiring event and meet such enthusiastic young people. The weather was pretty good, despite a few showers and there were smiles all round”.

Lindsay Correa, Chairman of RDA across the South East praised the volunteers and organisers who had had to cope with the large number of entries and collate the results in super rapid time. “They are all an extraordinary team, and you only had to see the reactions from our riders to see that we absolutely achieved our aim of providing them and their families with a superb day” she said.

Centaurus Trust is HOYS 2019 charity

The Centaurus Trust has been chosen to be the Official Charity of the Year for Horse of the Year Show 2019.  It works in partnership with Equine Learning CIC to provide therapeutic horsemanship opportunities to disabled and disadvantaged adults, young people and children in Warwickshire, Worcestershire and across the UK.

The charity will feature in the NEW Therapy Area as part of the Meet the Horses Zone in the Retail Village at HOYS, where visitors will have the exciting opportunity to meet and interact with two of their therapy ponies.

Equine learning with the group     Photo: Centaurus Trust

It will also provide daily demonstrations in the new feature area, explaining the mental health and personal development benefits of the work they do and demonstrating the effects it has had on the young people they have worked with.

The charity was started in 2007 as a community project lead by Nicola Hepburn, who was first introduced to equine therapy when she volunteered for a local RDA group. In 2005, Nicola trained in Equine Facilitated Learning, something which she found to be completely life changing and sparked her desire to do more.

For her 30th birthday she held a fundraising event which generated £500 and was enough to get the community project underway. Nicola began by offering equine facilitated learning sessions to local disabled and disadvantaged people with her own two horses and a pony. In 2007,

Nicola gave up her full-time job in order to commit more time to running the project, as well as studying for a degree in Equine Studies. In 2008 she set up CIC (Community Interest Company) which enabled her to open her first yard, with four stables, an indoor school and five acres of land.

Once she gained her riding establishment license, she began offering lessons through Equine Learning which helped to fund the community project. In 2009 the community project developed into the Centaurus Trust Charity (registered charity number 1133212) which works in partnership with Equine Learning.

Together they offer personal development through horsemanship to anyone who may benefit, with a particular focus on children and young people with autism and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

In the summer of 2010, Equine Learning hosted their first Horse Boy camp, which is a therapeutic method of working with children with autism developed by Rupert Isaacson and his son Rowan. Nicola trained as a Horse Boy practitioner and Equine Learning continues to offer Horse Boy camps throughout the year during school holidays.

In 2014, Nicola moved to the beautiful new and much larger premises of Wootton Park Estate where she started to run more camps with over 20 horses and ponies, securing lottery funding. The centre has a team of 10 members of staff and volunteers who help Nicola to deliver the incredible ethos of the Centaurus Trust Charity and Equine Learning.

She said:“We are blown away to be chosen as the Charity of the Year for such a huge event that is HOYS and we are so excited to be coming along to showcase what we do. It is such a fantastic opportunity for us to raise awareness of our work and the personal development benefits which therapeutic horsemanship provides.”

She added: We will be in the therapy zone every day at HOYS, so please come along and speak to us to find out more.”

This year there are a range of fantastic packages available which can be purchased via the website https://hoys.co.uk/tickets/ or by calling the Box Office on 0844 581 8282. See you there!


BHS minority requests general meeting

The largest equestrian charity in the UK, The British Horse Society (BHS), has been asked by 42 members to hold a General Meeting.

The BHS has more than 107,000 members and promotes the interest of all horses, riders and owners across the UK. Its core focus is education, welfare, safety, participation and equestrian rights of way.

A group of 42 out of 107,000 BHS members have requisitioned a General Meeting for the purpose of voting on a resolution proposed by that group. The requisition, submitted on 12 March, proposed a resolution of a vote of no confidence in the Chairman, the Chief Executive (in post at the time, before taking retirement) and the Board of Trustees.

Under the BHS Articles, the members have a right to call the meeting, but gave no supporting information or evidence for proposing the resolution; they were offered mediation with the Society in line with Charity Commission guidance, which was declined.

The Board will vote against the resolution which requires a simple majority to carry.

The General Meeting vote does not hold legal precedence, but is a political statement in regard to the governance of the Society. The meeting will be held in Warwickshire on the Tuesday June 11, in advance of the Society’s Election Board Meeting in July, in which four new Trustees will join the Board. The Trustee election voting begins in early June.

This year the Society has held a number of members’ meeting throughout the UK and these will continue throughout the year as a platform for the Trustees to listen to members, and consider their invaluable input for inclusion in the future strategy of the Society.

All BHS members can attend the meeting which will take place on Tuesday June 11, at 7.00pm at The Stareton Hall, National Agricultural and Exhibition Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Stoneleigh, Kenilworth, CV8 2LZ. For more information about voting please visit www.bhs.org.uk/general-meeting

BRC Fibre- Beet Festival of the Horse Championships 2019

Sponsors have wished good luck to all competitors ahead of this year’s BRC Fibre-Beet Festival of the Horse Championships which will be taking place this coming weekend (May 18-19) at Aston Le Walls, Northamptonshire.

Almost 800 junior and senior riders have qualified for the Festival Challenge and Combined Training Championships.

2019 will see the introduction of Direct Entry classes which do not require any prior qualification. These classes include; Native Type Dressage, Cob Type Dressage, Retrained Racehorse Dressage, Veteran Horse and Veteran Rider Dressage

Flashback to action at Festival of the Horse 2018
Photo courtesy of British Horse Feeds

BRC has the pleasure of welcoming Fibre-Beet as the title sponsor, who is returning for a second year sponsoring this event. Hatti I’Anson of British Horse Feeds said: “We are really looking forward to the BRC Fibre-Beet Festival of the Horse Championships 2019 and wish all the competitors the best of luck throughout the event. We very much enjoyed our first year as sponsors in 2018 and are hoping for an equally successful event this year.”

Results and pictures will be posted on the BRC Facebook page over the weekend, with full results available on the BRC website after the Championship event and on this website.

Return of Ride Out UK

The British Horse Society (BHS) has announced the return of Ride Out UK (ROUK) for 2019, with the campaign now running from May through to October.

Across the six months, the BHS, Affiliated Equestrian Access groups, BHS Approved Centres and British Riding Clubs will be hosting a range of events from guided rides to the ever popular pleasure rides on National Trust properties and large estates.

The previous two years have seen more than £18,000 raised for the BHS’ Paths for Communities Fund, a vital fund available to equestrians to create or repair multi-user routes in their local area.

Ride Out UK 2019

Tracy Casstles, Director of Fundraising at the British Horse Society said: “ROUK has been hugely popular amongst the equine community and we’ve seen all ages and abilities getting involved.

“From restoring unusable gates in Gloucestershire to draining and resurfacing routes in Somerset, the funds raised make a huge difference to local communities, by getting riders off the road and using their restored off-road routes, both now and in the future”.

As part of the campaign, the BHS is also challenging riders to become a ‘Platinum Rider’ by riding at least 70km whilst also raising a minimum of £70 for the Paths for Communities Fund.

This year’s Ride Out UK is kindly sponsored by Thorowgood.

To find an event in your area or to find out more about becoming a Platinum Rider, visit bhs.org.uk/rideoutuk

Colic awareness week

The British Horse Society (BHS) and University of Nottingham launched the UK’s first ever ‘Colic Awareness Week’ recently as part of their ‘REACT Now to Beat Colic’ Campaign in order to inform horse owners on how to spot the signs of colic.

It also told what to do, should they suspect their horse has the potentially fatal condition. This came after shocking research, conducted by The University of Nottingham revealed that 90 per cent of owners were not confident in spotting its early signs.

Both organisations received a huge amount of support from their 66 ‘Vet REACT Colic Champion’ veterinary practices, as well as Pet Plan, Spillers, The British Equine Veterinary Association and many more in helping them to share expert ‘top tips ‘and up-to-date statistics on recognising the signs of colic.

Early signs of colic in your horse

The importance of being prepared for colic and end of life decision making, with all information being accompanied by free online resources. In addition to this and as part of the week, AB Equine Riding School in Rugely raised money for the campaign.

The week was hailed a great success by horse enthusiasts across the UK with a 600 per cent ncrease in BHS website traffic to colic information pages, a total reach of nearly 600,000 people across social media pages and more than 500 people commented on one BHS Facebook post, sharing their own stories and experiences of colic.

Emmeline Hannelly, BHS Welfare Education Manager said: “Colic is a serious concern for horse owners so we wanted to dedicate a week to highlight and encourage discussions on many of the key issues. If owners are faced with having to make a difficult decision, we want to ensure they are making an informed decision at what will be an exceptionally distressing time. We are delighted with the outcome of the week and want to thank everyone who supported the event”.

The idea to hold an awareness week was suggested by the BHS and by the University of Nottingham’s PhD student Katie Lightfoot. Miss Lightfoot said: “Colic Awareness Week has exceeded our expectations and we are delighted at how engaged both horse owners and veterinary professionals have been. We set out to highlight how important planning for a potential colic emergency is, in order to prevent delays in veterinary treatment and I think the message was well received by horse owners across the country.”

Sarah Freeman, Professor of Veterinary Surgery at the School of Veterinary Science and Medicine, University of Nottingham, who headed up the initial research on colic with the BHS has also recently received the RCVS Impact Award, which is given to a veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse who has recently, or is currently, undertaking a project or initiative that has had an important impact on the profession.

For further details on the ‘Vet REACT Colic Champions’ scheme and ‘React Now to Beat Colic’ campaign, please visit: www.bhs.org/colic.


Riding school pupils competed in front of royalty

More than 100 riders qualified to represent thirteen riding schools from across the country. Last week given the chance to compete in dressage, show jumping and stable management at The British Horse Society’s (BHS) Riding School Championships which were held at Onley Grounds Equestrian Complex in Rugby.

The one-of-a-kind, yearly competition provides riders from BHS Approved Centres, who don’t have their own horse with the opportunity to compete at a national level.

This year, competitors were aged between eight to over 70 years-old and were even lucky enough to receive a special visit from a member of the Royal family, HRH The Princess Royal.

Competitors atg British Riding Schools championships. {Photgo: BHS

Phillipa Kemp, Stage 4 Accredited Professional Coach at Kimblewick Equestrian Centre in Norfolk said: “My students may never have a chance to do something like this ever again and so they all arrived with the attitude that it doesn’t matter where they are placed, just so long as they enjoyed themselves.

“The BHS championships enable riders to experience competing as if they’re riding their own horse and this enables them to get a feel for the industry; I wish there was something like this when I was younger.”

Molly, who is eleven years-old and rides at Cottage Farm Stables said “It was my third year taking part in the championships and I loved every minute of it. This year was extra special because my younger sister, Lucy also got to take part for the first time and I felt very proud of her.”

Her younger sister, Lucy, eight-years old added “I had a really good time at my first championships and I think I did really well, especially in my dressage test. We even got to meet HRH The Princess Royal; she was so lovely. I can’t wait to come back next year!”

Oonagh Meyer, Head of Approvals at The British Horse Society said: We had another great year at our annual riding school championships; once again.

“It was lovely to see so many riders competing, who wouldn’t usually be given this opportunity without having their own horse. The BHS Approvals team would like to congratulate all those who took part and thank both Champion and Careers in Racing for kindly sponsoring this year’s competition.”

For a full list of results, visit:


Worm control is essential equine management

This month’s equine veterinary feature about Tapeworms has been written by  DR. S. DAVIDSON, BVMS, MRCVS of  Sussex Equine Hospital, based at Ashington.

Dr. Sarah Davidson, BVMS, MRCVS of Sussex Equine Hospital. Ashington.

She writes: “Everyone is aware that worm control is a very important part of equine management and practices regarding frequency and method of de-worming have changed in recent years. For most people on big yards these days, submitting faecal samples to be tested for worm eggs is normal practice but what is quite often forgotten is that this simple test will not give you any information regarding the tapeworm burden of your horse.

Tapeworm, or Anoplocephala perfoliata, require an intermediate host to complete their lifecycle. Grazing horses will ingest forage mites which are normally found on the grass, these forage mites are infected with larval tapeworms. Once these larval tapeworms reach the intestine, they will mature into adult tapeworm and begin to produce eggs themselves. These eggs develop in body segments called proglottids which, once ready, are detached from the body of the tapeworm and passed out onto the pasture in faeces.

Once on the pasture, the proglottids disintegrate over time and release the eggs, this process is why eggs cannot be picked up on routine faecal sample screening as they are not yet free within the faeces. The free eggs are ingested by forage mites and develop into tapeworm larvae which can be eaten by the grazing horse and the cycle continues. Within the horse, the cycle takes roughly 1 to 2 months and on the pasture, between 2 and 4 months.

Tapeworms within the horses gut tend to congregate in certain areas of the intestine, these are typically the walls of the caecum (a large blind ending sack at the beginning of the large intestine) and at the junction of the caecum and the ileum (the last part of the small intestine).

Tapeworms themselves are large worms, they can be up to 10 inches long and half an inch in width, this means that by sheer number they can cause blockages but also will attach themselves to the intestinal walls which can cause extreme discomfort. Another problem that heavy tapeworm burden can cause is caecocolic intussusception which in laymens terms is telescoping of the caecum into the colon, this is a very serious condition requiring very involved surgical intervention and even with surgery, survival is not guaranteed.

Determining whether your horse has tapeworm is by a blood test or a saliva test, both are relatively simple and will give reliable results. Testing before treating is still very important, some may argue more important in the case of tapeworm as there are only two drugs available that are known to effectively rid your horse of a burden and resistance could be catastrophic.

Testing can be done at any time of year and results are usually returned quickly, testing more than once a year can give false positives since the test shows the intensity of the bodies response to the infection and can take time to reduce if the worm burden was high.

Tapeworm does not exhibit a huge degree of seasonality like some other worm lifecycles and so treatment at any time of year will be effective. This being said, risk is greater following prolonged grazing periods and so it is often suggested that horses are dewormed for tapeworm at the end of summer.

There are two drugs that are effective at killing tapeworm, praziquantel which is often combined with other drugs and pyrantel. Pyrantel is partially effective at the usual dose but a double dose increases the efficacy to 95%. Treatment of the horse is a vital part of managing tapeworm burden but as with all worming protocols, pasture management is also vital – regular poo-picking, rotational grazing and cross species grazing are all good practices to put into place. 

HOYS hosts UK premiere of My Little Sister

Horse of the Year Show is thrilled to introduce French performer Mélie Philippot and her dancing duo (Quizas and Diego) as the second entertainment display to be announced for 2019.

Making her UK debut with the display ‘My little sister’ trainer Mélie combines liberty work and dressage movements with a little light comedy in this thoroughly entertaining performance; a perfect interlude to the nail-biting competition.

Mélie first came to fame with her pony Luma who did a display disguised as a lion as seen at HOYS 2013; with his incredible charisma and great talent, Mélie had trained Luma to do a range of tricks and stunts which saw them perform to international audiences around the world.

Melie Philippot and Diego performing  at HOYS
Photo copyright and  courtesy of HOYS  and Grandstand Media

Diego who will feature in the display at HOYS 2019, is Luma’s son and has inherited his ‘showman appeal’. Diego is a small pony with a huge personality, providing naturally funny, yet wonderfully skilful moves. His athletic ability and love for his work allow him to mirror the moves of 14-year-old Breton draft horse, Quizas who is ridden throughout the performance by Mélie.

Guaranteed to both astonish and delight, you won’t want to miss Quizas and Diego’s debut UK performance at this year’s Horse of the Year Show.

Mélie commented: “I am very honoured to have been invited back to Horse of the Year Show with my new display and I hope the public will enjoy by my performance with Quizas and Diego.

“When I get back in the ring with Quizas, the public expects a classic dressage display, then Diego enters the arena and the audience laughs. This show offers a moment of poetry and laughter, with horses that we are less used to seeing in this discipline of dressage and they are best friends outside of the arena too!”

Emma Williams, Event Director of Grandstand Media Ltd commented: “We are delighted to be welcoming Mélie back to Horse of the Year Show this year with a fresh new act to perform for us. Diego’s wonderful personality is sure to bring the atmosphere to life in the Andrews Bowen International Arena and what he lacks in size he will be sure to make up for in talent and humour, providing great entertainment for all.”

Having celebrated a momentous 70th anniversary show last year, the 2019 show promises to be an equestrian spectacular with plenty to entertain every spectator. The show hosts the finals of the most highly regarded national showing and show jumping championships, three days of international showjumping, an immensely popular Retail Village and a full line-up of unbeatable entertainment, which makes for an unforgettable day out.

Tickets are on sale now, with prices starting from just £34.00 per person. Concession rates and discounts for group bookings are available. With popular performances selling out in record time last year, visitors are advised to secure their seats early to avoid disappointment. To book, please call the Box Office on 0844 581 8282 or visit www.hoys.co.uk/tickets

Underperforming racehorses could have some form of asthma

For racehorses who are not performing at their best, the issue can often be traced to the lungs.

In one study of thoroughbred racehorses, published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 80 percent of them had mild or moderate asthma.

Laurent Couëtil, a professor in Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and director of their Equine Sports Medicine Center, has developed a new lung function test for horses that uses a series of tanks to mimic deep inhalation and exhalation.

A study led by Professor Laurent Couëtil found that 80 per cent of thoroughbred racehorses surveyed had mild or moderate asthma. (Purdue University Photo/Rebecca Wilcox)

The machine at Purdue, which can detect even mild asthma, is the only one in the world capable of such a test.

An equine treadmill housed in Purdue’s Equine Sports Medicine Center is used to test for cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

For those that don’t, the issue can often be traced to the lungs.

Laurent Couëtil and horseLaurent Couëtil uses an equine nebulizer to administer treatment for asthma. (Purdue University photo/Rebecca Wilcox).

“Unlike the heart or muscle, the lung in the horse athlete is a limiting factor,” said Laurent Couëtil  of Purdue University’s Equine Sports Medicine Centre.

“Even in healthy horses, breathing is a limiting factor on performance. So if you take a little bit away from that, the consequences can be severe,” he explained.

Couëtil, who is also a professor of large animal internal medicine in Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine,  has spent much of his career treating and researching equine respiratory disease.

However, it wasn’t until 2016 that “equine asthma” was an official diagnosis, when Couëtil collaborated with three other researchers to argue for the adoption of the term in the Equine Veterinary Journal.