Opinion

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We have but one short life, and so many of us just love spending our time with horses and riding. I absolutely love teaching, too.

Last year, my doctor told me to give up riding (and walking) due to an old break in my back. But, watch out judges, I’d rather peg it at C!

I wish I had more hours in the day to build even better relationships with my horses. They definitely go better for us if they love and respect us, and that starts in the stable.

My lessons for this month are to never give up, listen to the right advice (trust your instincts on that) and lose that unwanted weight. I have — a whole stone.

Overweight people find it hard to ride well. Some have valid reasons for carrying extra pounds. Mine was laziness and a lack of care as to what went into my mouth. But minus that stone, my body works better.

Uncovering secrets

On the lookout for another horse, my problem has been finding a sound one with relevant information available.

What with the cutting of nerves a frequent occurrence, so I’m told, and chips removed from young horses to pass vet checks, I’m beginning to think that all “procedures” should be logged in passports. And/or should a buyer be able to access a horse’s veterinary records? I think the time has come.

It’s no secret that many horses are injected or “medicated” in some yards as a matter of course if the slightest irregularly shows up. Should this, likewise, be recorded?

When you buy a good car it comes with a service history, and people have medical records, so why should horses have secrets?

A glimmer of hope

Reading through 150 pages of the proposed 2019 FEI rulebook, I was disappointed to find little improvement to rules on noseband tension.

I sympathise with competitors on this one. If a noseband is passed by a steward or several, over several days, why does the yellow card then suddenly appear?

It’s the inconsistency and lack of clarity that’s the problem, and it’s not doing horses any favours, either.

There is a glimmer of hope via a noseband tightness measuring tool that’s been trialled by the Danish federation. I understand the results are being reviewed by the FEI and that the initial feedback was “positive”.

Rule-makers, let’s have everyone singing off the same hymn sheet before we go any further. Meanwhile, competitors might want to consider photographing their nosebands on their favoured hole; that would make for an interesting evidence-fuelled discussion if the tightness is agreed by one steward one day and turned down by another the next.

And as for no mention of regulating hyperflexion in the FEI’s proposed rules for next year, words fail me. There are, of course, plenty of references to the “happy athlete” — but I’ve yet to see one of those with their head pulled in.

Just what BD needs

Rumblings of discontent continue from inside and outside British Dressage (BD). Can the acting chairman, Linda Whetstone, turn things around?

Right now, we need strong leadership via a high profile figurehead — the likes of Jennie Loriston-Clarke and Desi Dillingham, who were shining examples.

Linda might not be as “famous” as these former chairmen, but she has the knowledge, is straight-talking, well respected and could be just what BD needs to regain peace and positivity.

Ref Horse & Hound; 30 August 2018