Last weekend I was privileged enough to attend the Saddle Research Trust conference at Nottingham University. The conference brought together some of the best brains in the world when it comes to horse welfare.
I was allowed my ticket in exchange for interviewing lecturers after their talks — how difficult could that be, I thought?! I was firstly scheduled to interview esteemed vet Sue Dyson following her talk on recognition of pain in the ridden horse and Russell Guire of Centaur Biomechanics on his presentation on rider asymmetry. Two incredibly insightful and clever people, plus little old me chatting about their research and findings.
As the time approached, I started to think the answer to my own question (how hard could it be?), was pretty bloody difficult… to say I was nervous at the prospect would be an understatement and I potentially would have been less so if about to ride round Burghley. I wrote endless notes ahead of this interview — a lot more than I ever would in lectures during my university days and had very sweaty palms as we started, but I needn’t have worried — it was great.
There were so many more questions that I wanted to ask, but the time just ran away. Confidence infused and note-less, I was able to follow on and interview professionals such as William Micklem, Anne Bondi, Lucinda Green, Richard Davison (I’m pictured top with Richard and Lucinda) and Professor Renee Van Weeren, to name a few — the list was a long one of spectacularly influential people within our industry and it was an honour to speak with them all. It’s easy to get bogged down in the information, research, statistics and data, but there is one thing in common with all concerned, that welfare of the horse is key.
That evening, president of the Saddle Research Trust, Anne Bondi invited me to be master of ceremony at the gala dinner and the presentation of the SRT awards. Those irritating nerves jumped straight back in and I struggled to eat my delicious supper as the moment approached. Again, as I stepped on to the stage my concerns dissolved and I had a most enjoyable and memorable evening. It was wonderful to be involved in recognition of some truly inspirational people. I’ve never seen Sue Dyson so emotional as she picked up her award for SRT Practitioner or such a charismatic performance in receiving an award as William Micklem for SRT ambassador.
The time ran away with me and my intentions to move on to Caroline Moore and Ros Canter’s celebratory party after the World Equestrian Games sadly didn’t happen and I was in bed at just after 1am. Three-and-a-half-hours later my alarm went off and I was off to Norfolk for 11 hours worth of teaching. I struggled to keep my eyes open on the journey there, but the first lesson was an absolute pleasure and it set me up for a wonderful day helping 35 or so pupils — what a weekend!
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On top of this I have been busy showjumping and getting the horses fit and ready to start more intense training in preparation for the New Year and eventing season. The conference has given me plenty of inspiration and I’m looking forward to putting some of the things that I’ve learnt in to practice!
With Olympia coming up, Christmas just round the corner and the tree up I’m starting to feel festive — I hope you are too?!
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