Never let it be said that my job isn’t varied! The past couple of weeks have seen us cracking on with plans to expand our services for our human clients. We’ve been running rider performance clinics in many different forms over the past few years. Now we have extended our repertoire once again to make sure we remain at the cutting edge of this field.

We continue to offer postural and osteopathic assessment by means of our osteopath Liz (Launder). But we have recently formed a new partnership with Jenni Douglas to offer tailored strength and conditioning services for riders of all ages and physical abilities to compliment the work Liz does. Jenni is a senior lecturer in equestrian sports science here at Hartpury College. Her experience includes both researching and working with riders to improve their physical performance.

We realise that many people have neither the time nor the inclination to spend hours in the gym amidst their already hectic lives, managing the usual mix of horses, work and family, so Jenni’s programmes are specifically developed to take this in to account.

Former operating threatre becomes a training centre for riders

It’s a really exciting time, and we’re in the midst of transforming what used to be our equine operating theatre into a dedicated facility for rider performance (pictured above). It’s a different type of satisfaction that you get from running a project like this compared to our day-to-day work with the horses. I found myself getting ridiculously excited about the delivery of red tub chairs for the reception area the other day!

Alongside buying new kit to use as part of the rider screening and training, we’re aiming to completely transform the space so that it is accessible for all, including provision for para-riders and members of local and national RDA groups. The vision is to make this facility available to groups of people who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to access this sort of thing, as well as being able to accommodate the needs of elite riders too. We have a lot of work to do, but it will be worth it.

People power

This is the season when we start looking to next year in terms of our team of staff. Each August we appoint a new graduate intern, who will stay with us for a year and work as one of our gang. This is very much a training position and offers the chance to bridge the gap between graduating from University and starting out in a career.

The internship is a great initiative which provides us with a young, keen member of staff, while for the intern it offers a salaried position which they can tailor to their own interests. The job will be advertised in May, fingers crossed for lots of fantastic applicants again this year.

Alongside our staff team, we have an amazing population of student volunteers who assist us throughout the year. Because we run a professional yard, our students work at a professional level too. This gives them the opportunity to get some really good work experience and thus enhance their employability.

We’re currently trying to decide the winners of our Student of the Year awards; with so many amazing volunteers it’s really hard to choose between them! It makes me so proud when our students go on to do well, particularly our long-term helpers as we really get to know them. This year our role of honour includes students getting places to go on and study veterinary medicine at the Royal Veterinary College and Liverpool, progressing on to train in Veterinary Physiotherapy and getting jobs at amazing places such as Rossdale’s in Newmarket.

The horses have always been at the heart of everything we do, but the students provide their own form of inspiration – it never fails to astound me how much of their time they are prepared to give up to us, just because they enjoy doing it. We appreciate it so much.

Fizz