The BHS led Leonardo da Vinci fund, which sponsors instructors of all levels to train in leading equestrian training centres throughout Europe, is sending 27 BHSIIs (BHS Intermediate Instructors)to top training centres in France, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Germany during 2001.
Each season, the fund focuses on sending a specific level of instructor to Europe. In 1999-2000 it was the turn of the Fellows and BHSIs, with the BHSAIs rewarded the previous year. Now, in the 2000-2001 “season”, it is the International Level II instructors – the equivalent of a BHSII – who are benefiting from the funding.
To be considered, instructors have to submit a funding bid. If successful, the instructor then has to write a number of reports, investigating the culture and history surrounding the establishment they visit.
Karen Hill, course manager for the National Diploma in Horse Management at Bishop Burton College was one of this year’s lucky recipients. She and fellow BHSIIs Emma Cox, from Co. Durham, Louise Sharpe, from Devon, Gillian Smith, from Buckingham and Christina Wiederkehr, who trained at Catherston Stud, spent two weeks with the Cadre Noir at the Ecole Nationale d’Equitation in Saumur, France.
The five instructors participated in dressage, showjumping and cross country lessons, during their time at the centre, and observed the training of students at the school and the “sauteurs”, the horses that perform the “airs above the ground”.
Each of the visiting instructors also had the chance to improve their show jumping skills with a lesson on Persival 2B, the school’s mechanical showjumper. The riders were able to work on their technique over fences as Persival jumped round a ‘virtual’ course projected on a screen in front of him.
A less conventional approach to training is not unusual among the equestrian centres which participate in these projects, as Jeremy Michaels, Head of Training at the BHS,admits: “I try to find establishments in partner countries which have slightly more innovative ideas.”
Karen’s response to the trip was enthusiastic: “It was a fabulous opportunity. Their systems out there are quite different and, because their centre is funded by the French Government, they invest money into the training of both horses and riders. Not only have my teaching skills benefitted from the trip but so has my own riding.”
For more information on the Leonardo da Vinci fund, contactthe BHS (tel: 08701 202244).