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Scottish Equestrian year 2017 Untitled-2 1
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Whether your favourite tipple is eventing or show jumping, polocross or dressage, Scotland finally has the high-quality horsecentric magazine its equestrian community deserves...
Welcome to EQy 2017
hen we decided to launch Equestrian Year magazine three years ago, our main motivation was to ﬁll the gap for a purely Scottish equestrian magazine. As a horse rider myself, I know how many Scots there are out there who are passionate horsemen and women and were yearning for a publication designed speciﬁcally their needs, so I set about producing the sort of magazine I’d like to read. Three years on and I think EQy has become a ﬁxture on the Scottish equestrian scene and a magazine of which we are all really proud. There are challenges – it’s sometimes difﬁcult to give every discipline from polocross to dressage the coverage its enthusiasts believe it merits – but you, the great Scottish horse-riding population, have responded to our efforts magniﬁcently. We’d love to know what you think about this issue, and by all means let us know if you’ve got a great idea for next year’s magazine. The other thing to bear in mind is that although we only print once a year, EQy is not just an annual event. Virtually every day we are putting up news stories and images on the main social media plaforms. So if you have a tale to tell or a picture to share, then don’t hesitate to send it to me. Even if you haven’t got anything that you think will suit, feel free to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook, and we’ll continue to come up with stories about the wild and wonderful world of Scottish equestrianism. Happy reading!
@eqymagazine eqymagazine www.eqymagazine.co.uk
Contributors Douglas Duffin
Douglas tells us how he overcame a nonhorsey background to become one of the finest show jumpers Scotland has ever produced.
An ambassador for World Horse Welfare, Ayrshire’s golden girl may spend much of her time reporting on Formula One and rugby, but her heart still belongs to the equestrian world.
The top eventer explains how injury forced him to look afresh at his life, leading to him coming back leaner and better.
COMMISSIONING EDITOR HENRIETTA FORREST HEDDY@SCOTTISHFIELD.CO.UK
Contents 10 IN THE FRAME A collection of stunning, exclusive equine images
24 THE NATIONAL TREASURES Grand National-winning Golf Widows on their friendship and love of racing 28 IT’S ALL ABOUT THE HORSE Sports reporter Lee McKenzie on her love of horses and World Horse Welfare 34 FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH Where it all began for some well-kent Scottish equestrian figures
Cover image: Riders enjoy fantastic Fife scenery around Lindores Cross Country.
38 THE DUFFIN DYNASTY Douglas Duffin’s determination reaps rewards 44 IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR Houston represents a life’s work for the Comries 46 HOMEGROWN TALENT We visit five of our best breeders 52 IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL Argyll-based Hazel McCorkindale reflects on the joys of endurance riding 54 WILLPOWER WINS THE DAY Will Oaken rises to the eventing challenge with gusto
60 A LIFE LESS ORDINARY Vaulting veteran Jenny Leggate talks training, RDA and Eqibuddy
62 BACK FROM THE BRINK The horrific injury and miracle recovery of Nikki Corstorphine 78 ON A WING AND A PRAYER Dressage star Jo Barry is back at the top of her game 84 FROM PUPIL TO TEACHER Emily Sutherland, her horse Grace and their love of all things Pony Club 88 ONES TO WATCH Scotland’s promising young equestrian athletes 96 WAR HORSES A sad wartime tale of cavalrymen is uncovered
All the Queen’s Horses Stud manager Sylvia Ormiston shows us around the Balmoral Highland Pony stud
98 THE SCIENCE OF SADDLES Erlend Milne, saddle fitter extraordinaire, explains his methods 104 ONE HORSE POWER Forest management the equine way with horse logger Andrew Whitaker
62 Also inside 06 HOOF BEAT Equestrian news 68 HORSEBACK HOLIDAYS Ten of the best for your delectation 77 TWOâ€™S COMPANY Our favourite horsey selfie stars 83 ONLY THE BEST EQy recommends 112 SOCIAL SCENE Our candid camera captures some apres-equine action
114 BACK PAGE A sideways glance at traditional and natural horsemanship
EDITORIAL AND DESIGN Editor: Richard Bath Creative & Commissioning Editor: Heddy Forrest Photographer: Angus Blackburn Writers: Cal Flyn, Julia Welstead, Melanie Scott Sub-editors: Hermione Lister-Kaye, Morag Bootland Artworker: Amanda Richardson Production Controller: Madeleine Smith Contact: email@example.com; Tel: 0131 551 1000; www.eqymagazine.co.uk PUBLISHING Publisher: Alister Bennett, Scottish Field, Fettes Park, 496 Ferry Rd, Edinburgh EH5 2DL
SALES AND MARKETING Sales Director: Brian Cameron Advertising Sales: Scottish Field sales team Sales & Marketing Assistant: Mikaela MacKinnon SUBSCRIPTIONS AND DISTRIBUTION Address: Wyvex Media, Trinity House, Sculpins Lane, Wethersfield, Braintree, Essex CM7 4AY Tel: 01371 851868 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org If you experience any difficulties in obtaining EQy Issue 2, please contact 01371 851868
Hoofbeat Calling all young riders – do you have the X-Factor?
Equine and nutrition specialist Harbro has launched its first ever Young Rider Competition, encouraging talented young Scottish riders aged 16-25 of any discipline who have a clear set of competitive goals for their year ahead. A shortlist from the entries will be selected by a panel of judges including equestrian expert and Olympic medallist Ian Stark, OBE, and Dr Vicki Glasgow, Harbro’s Equine Nutritionist, before a final public vote on social media to select two winners, one from the North and one from the South of Scotland. Entrants must upload a short five-minute film onto YouTube, with an introduction about themselves and what inspires them. They should also highlight where they are keen to progress in their chosen discipline and include a clip of them riding their horse. The two winners will receive a year’s supply of feed, Harbro branded clothing and merchandise, two hospitality tickets to the Royal Highland Show and one-to-one nutritional advice from Dr Vicky Glasgow. www.harbro.co.uk/youngriderscompetition
Are you a Cairngorm centurion? The Cairngorm 100 ride is a linear 100-mile route across the Cairngorm National Park, to be completed in 24 hours on 8 July. Riders must have the ability to manage both themselves and their horses for long stretches in real wilderness country. The top prize is based on horse management throughout the ride. The route starts at Glen Clova and finishes at Nethy Bridge. If you are interested in taking part e-mail Penny: cg100entries@ btinternet.com. To volunteer contact Carola: email@example.com For general enquiries contact Clive: cg100general.enquiries@ btinternet.com. For general updates follow their Facebook page: www.facebook. com/Cairngorm100
The Deaf, the Daft and the Ditsy A fundraising ride from Vatersay to Lewis (the southernmost to the northernmost of the Outer Hebrides’ inhabited islands) is being undertaken by Karen Inkster, her horse and her dog, in aid of Blairgowrie Riding for Disabled Group, of which Karen is chairperson. Collectively known as ‘The Deaf, the Daft and the Ditsy’ the threesome will travel unsupported. The ride is approximately 270km and will take 16 days. Both dog and horse are re-homed animals. Facebook page: www.facebook.com/thedeafthedaftandtheditsy Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thedeafthedaftandtheditsy
All clear for speedy Fifer
Fourteen-year-old Shaunie Greig from Dunfermline, Fife, took first place in The Stable Company Horse of the Year Show 138cms Qualifier at Weston Lawns Equitation Centre, on board Anne Greig’s 16-year-old bay mare, Drumaclan Flight. Demonstrating great consistency with turn of speed, this pair were the clear winners as they crossed through the finish line in 35.92 seconds, a whole 4.87 seconds quicker than their nearest rivals. All 56 riders were focused on finishing in the top three to ensure their place in The Stable Company HOYS 138cms Championship Final held at the prestigious Horse of the Year Show in October. Emelia Mitchell, aged 13, from Saffron Walden, Essex secured second place and her ticket to the Horse of the Year show with three clear rounds on board Shaman Sundance, an 11-year-old Appaloosa gelding owned by Jane Gibson. This partnership crossed the finish line in 40.79 seconds. The Horse of the Year Show 2017 will take place from 4-8 October at Birmingham’s NEC.
BEF boosts its World Class Performance Team The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) has announced the appointment of two new team members for its UK Sport National Lottery-funded World Class Performance team. Georgina Sharples, current Head of Performance with the British Paralympic Association (BPA), will take up the role of Head of Performance Support. This is a newly created position, supported by the English Institute of Sport (EIS), with the specific remit of ensuring the BEF give their equestrian athletes, both human and equine, access to the best vets, medical support and leading-edge scientific developments to optimise their performance. Caroline Griffith, current lead co-ordinator for the equestrian World Class Podium Potential Programme, becomes World Class Dressage Performance Manager, and will oversee both Podium and Podium Potential squads. With these appointments, the team is now close to completion and is well-placed to build its fresh approach to delivering international success, with plans already underway for this summer’s European Championships and the 2018 World Championships. For more information, visit the BEF website: www.bef.co.uk eqymagazine.com 2017
Equibuddy App ready for Beta testing This exciting new App is currently being Beta tested prior to commercial release, with its creators keen to find more volunteers to try it out. Equibuddy App is a new simple visual for the entire horse community, which will build, store and connect your horse’s data in a safe, user-friendly way. If you’d like to try it, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 7
Above: Ian and Elizabeth Comrie at the riding school in West Lothian which they say they may have to close if their business rates increase by 53%.
The continued existence of the much-loved Houston Farm Riding School, run by Ian and Elizabeth Comrie in Dechmont, West Lothian, has been threatened by the impending business rates increase of 53% charged on non-domestic properties. The highly regarded riding school is urging supporters to sign a petition directed at Fiona Hyslop MSP asking the council to make Houston Farm exempt from the rates increase. The Comrie family are also asking anyone who has used their facilities in the past – and especially those who learned to ride with them – to write a testimonial or letter of support for use at their forthcoming appeal against this punitive rise in rates. Their address is: 1 Houston Mains, Uphall, Broxburn, West Lothian EH52 6JX. The school has, as well as providing riding lessons for those of all ages and capabilities, hosted regular pony clubs, fairs and charity events and has become a safe haven in the area, providing support and benefit to many in the local community. To sign the petition and help save Houston Farm Riding School go to: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/ petitions/save-houston-farm-riding-school
Houston, we may have a (rather big) problem...
Family affair Not content with her meteoric rise in the eventing world, Emily Ryder and her brother Josh from Pitlochry have both been chosen for the Scottish Mounted Games team for the 12th European Championship Games at The Royal Bath and West Showground from 14-19 August. The other team members are Vicky Riva, Callum Leech and Jack Capel with Caitlin Dodds reserve. For more information on the teams competing at this year’s championships visit: www.imgaeuropeans2017.com
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IN THE FRAME
In the frame
Some of the most photogenic countryside on earth and a dizzying range of equestrian activities makes Scotland a paradise for EQyâ€™s photographers IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN & JIM CRICHTON
Image: Simon Mulholland, his pony Obama and a friend demonstrate how Pony Axe S enables wheelchair-bound people to access the countryside. www.ponyaxes.com
‘Pony Axe S makes going cross country a reality for those who can’t. Safe, easy travel across any terrain, in your own wheelchair’
JO THE IN BARRY FRAME
‘I sculpted a Clydesdale for the M8 and suddenly I was known for my horses. I subsequently found out that my great-grandfather worked with dray horses in Glasgow, so it seems fitting’ 12
Image: Andy Scott, of Kelpies fame, puts the ďŹ nishing touches to Maggie May, his working title for a horse head sculpture destined for installation at the Easter Bush Campus of Edinburgh University. Andy usually works in mild steel, which is then dipped in zinc to give it an eyecatching shine.
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Image: Caz Mosley at Forgandenny Horse Trials in April, on Olivia Wilmot’s 22-year-old eventer Classy Touch, having made a miraculous recovery from a head-on car accident in 2014 in which she sustained a broken back and severe internal organ injuries.
‘The accident gave me a new sense of determination, I needed to prove to myself and the doctors that I could ride again. I’m a fitter rider now than ever before’
THE QUEEN’S OWN HIGHLANDERS
All the Queen’s horses EQy was granted exclusive access to the Balmoral estate and the Queen’s traditional working Highland garron stud BY JULIA WELSTEAD IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN
Right - Trinity Mirror/Mirrorpix/Alamy
Far right: Lucy Fernie (left) with Balmoral Clunie and Jordan Headspeath with Balmoral Ulleam. Right: The Queen riding one of her Haflingers, with Prince Edward and the Duchess of York, at Balmoral, August 1988.
hen Sylvia Ormiston and her husband Dochy came to Balmoral a decade ago, their task was to continue breeding the stock – the Highland ponies, Highland cattle and Cheviot sheep – and to restore the farm buildings and land to good heart. Sylvia has worked hard to build the breeding programme along her favoured ‘true to type’ working Highland pony lines. This, for her, is all about brain and bone – plenty of leg bone and plenty of calm intelligence – and no fizz or sharpness, as they have to be extremely calm, steady and unfazed by their work on the hill. Nice big solid feet, strong loins and back are also important, but temperament comes above all else. To this end, Sylvia choses which mares to breed from with great care. There are three Balmoral stallions standing at stud at the moment – Balmoral Mandarin, Balmoral Hercules and Balmoral Lord – and this means three main family lines, a good broad base from which to breed. The first of this year’s foals was born at the end of March, a home-bred from two homebred parents. ‘These foals are the future,’ says Sylvia with well-deserved pride as this young filly, full of curiosity, investigates us.
Every foal born at Balmoral is named by Her Majesty the Queen, who takes a keen interest in them (the stud is one of her first ports of call upon arrival at Balmoral) and she tends to have a theme each year – bird, island, or biblical names for instance. But she also loves to hear the stories of how a nickname has arisen, and may choose to adopt it. This foal has been nicknamed ‘Bonnie’ for now, as she was born on working pony groom Lucy Fernie’s wedding weekend and Sylvia knew how bonnie Lucy would be.
â€˜Working Highland ponies are bred to carry stags off the hill, and need plenty of brain and bone, sturdy conformation and excellent trainingâ€™
JO BARRY THE QUEEN’S OWN HIGHLANDERS
Left: The stud team in front of Balmoral Castle, Jordan, Sylvia and Lucy. Above: Sylvia with Balmoral Lossie and her sevenday-old filly.
Training starts from birth with handling, leading and general manners, all of which are fundamental to producing a pony which can maintain position and stay settled and in balance for carrying work on the hill. Sylvia also gets the foals used to the smell of deer from the beginning, by leaving deer skins out in the field and putting feed on them. As horses are a prey animal themselves, it’s vital that they learn to be relaxed around carcasses and the smell of blood. ‘But we do have to be careful,’ laughs Sylvia. ‘Last Court [when the Queen is in residence] we put a skin out with the youngsters in the field in front of the castle and a policeman doing his rounds reported that he thought the ponies had killed something. They were playing with the deerskin and dragging it around, which is what we want of course, but it must look odd if you don’t know what’s going on.’ All the ponies are backed and ridden before being taught to carry. ‘Our ponies must be able to turn their hoof to anything,’ explains Sylvia. ‘Working hunter, dressage, jumping, driving – traditionally they had to do everything
from farm and hill work to taking the family to the Kirk, and I’m determined that the breed will continue to stay true to type.’ When ponies are learning to carry pannier baskets, Sylvia first ties a big round hay net on either side, front of saddle, which creates the ‘wide load’ that they have to get used to. The baskets are then put on behind, and when the youngster turns their head they find nice hay, not a scarey basket, and will get used to the feeling and creaking of them before they see them. As training progresses the hay nets are reduced in size until no longer needed. The pannier baskets, used to carry shooters’ kit and picnic, and the shot grouse, are specially made by a company in Glasgow, based on the template of an old set, with canvas tops stitched on to keep the contents dry. They connect like saddle bags, and are lifted on from behind by two people. The stallions are trained in exactly the same way, as they also have to be able to work and prove themselves worthy to breed from. They all happily ride out in company with mares and, equally, can be ridden away from their mares – a rare level of manners for a stallion. By way of example, Jordan, herself a
have to be able to turn their hoof to anything’
Equi Life Ltd.indd 020_eq17.indd 20 1
19/05/2016 14:02:01 11:40:33 16/05/2017
Image - Wenn UK/Alamy
‘Balmoral Mandarin carries himself beautifully, with poise, balance and flowing paces’ native Mulleach (born on the Isle of Mull) whose childhood dream was to work with the Highlands, saddles up Balmoral Mandarin and puts him through his paces in the schooling arena, where he carries himself beautifully, with poise, balance and flowing paces. Lucy says Balmoral Hercules is equally obliging, and has had a ‘just tell me what to do and I’ll do it’ attitude all through his training. ‘The stallions are an absolute joy and pleasure to work with,’ says Sylvia, who became interested in the Highland breed when she met the Ormiston family and subsequently worked at Meggernie Estate in Glen Lyon for 15 years before coming to Balmoral. While tacking up Clunie, Sylvia explains that ‘the saddles have been designed by a saddler with my input based on a pre-WWI pack saddle’. Unusually and cleverly, they are hinged at the pommel and cantle, which makes them flexible through the gullet so that they are a snug fit on most ponies. Combined with a very wide cushion girth (like a weight lifter’s belt) which Sylvia has also designed, this has the effect of creating a vice-like fit to the pony’s sides, rather than weight bearing down on their back, while the snug fit ensures no movement and no rub or pressure points. The new saddles are significantly lighter than their predecessors which, at well over two stone, didn’t do their wearers any favours. They need to be at least 16 inches front
to back to allow room for a stag or two hinds. On average, the beasts they have to carry are around 14 stone, with bigger stags weighing up to 18 stone. During the red deer season, when these ponies are out working long days, effective tack that helps rather than hinders, is vital. While on the hill, the ponies are led in simple leather headcollars and given a certain amount of freedom to pick their own way across the terrain. ‘I look after the ponies when they are on the hill, and I teach the ghillies how to handle the ponies and what to expect of them,’ explains Lucy. Lucy is also in charge of teaching the young ponies on the hill. ‘During the hind season I take the youngsters up to learn their trade, while the weather is good and the ground drier,’ she says. ‘If possible I’ll pair them with an older pony, and sometimes just let the older pony follow along without being clipped on, which of course runs
Above: The Queen with Balmoral Erica in the Highland class at Royal Windsor Horse Show.
CTION THE QUEEN’S OWN HIGHLANDERS
‘The stallions are an absolute joy to work with’
the risk of them vanishing over the horizon. But to see these young ponies carrying for the first time, after all their training, is absolutely brilliant, and so rewarding.’ Balmoral has six beats, a total land area of over 64,000 acres, and they need two ponies on each beat, so an absolute minimum of 12 working ponies (not including the youngsters) is essential throughout the stalking season. Each pair has to live on their beat, as it would be too far to transport them there and back every day. Being a hardy Mountain and Moorland breed, I assume the Highlands are good doers. ‘All the ponies winter out in a wooded area with a big barn for shelter,’
agrees Sylvia, ‘but we do feed them. Dengie chaff forms their staple diet, with 400g of a grass pellet balancer, which keeps them really healthy and looking tremendous. I’m a great believer in having something other than grass in their tummy every day.’ An Eric Gillie lorry delivers Balmoral Erica home, after her six-year sojourn down south being an ambassador for the Balmoral Highlands. Her successes include champion at Windsor and third overall at the Horse of the Year Show in the Pony Cuddy final. Now she is home to stud, to be put to Balmoral Lord – they both have the looks and with his bone and brain they should have a bonnie bairn.
Top: Jordan riding Balmoral Mandarin. Above left: The young stock – Friendly, Adam, Blush, Faith and Brave. Above Right: Sylvia with the working herd of home-bred Haflingers, Fells and Highlands.
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THE GOLF WIDOWS
The National treasures They laughingly called themselves The Golf Widows but years of racing experience went into their day of National Hunt glory
he date 8 April 2017 won’t ever be forgotten by Deborah (Debs) Thomson and Belinda (Bel) McClung. The owners of Grand National winner One for Arthur graced the front pages for days after their horse triumphed at Aintree, the story of the ‘golf widows’ who bought a racehorse three years ago to give themselves a hobby while their partners played golf proving to be journalistic catnip for the nation’s scribes. Debs and Bel are such well-kent faces that there must have been people throughout Scotland screaming ‘I know
them!’ at their televisions as the pair hung onto the halter of One For Arthur in the winner’s enclosure. At the EQy offices we are no different: I used to have a horse in livery at the same yard as Debs and rode in the same hunt as them both; while Bel recently appeared in the pages of Scottish Field when we did a piece on her brother, celebrated chef Jeremy Wares, and the field sports pedigree of his family. So it was a rare treat to share a cuppa with the pair at Debs’ beautiful Gullane home one sunny evening, and
Images - Reuters/Alamy
BY JULIA WELSTEAD
Image: One for Arthur with Derek Fox riding takes the lead in the Grand National 2017. Inset: The winners celebrate.
to hear how their partnership began. ‘We were at school (St Mary’s Convent near Berwick) and Pony Club (Duke of Buccleuch) together,’ said Bel. ‘At school we weren’t particularly close as Debs was in the year above me. We were in the same social scene, hunted together with the Duke of Buccleuch and Jedforest Hunts, but then didn’t see each other for quite a while as I went off to Harper Adams University.’ Bel is from a horsey family, her
father being chair and mother secretary of the Jedforest Hounds. Mum evented (and still rides and hunts aged 73) and both parents and grandparents owned racehorses. Bel evented in her teens and then rode Peter and Rhona Elliot’s racehorses at The Yett, and used to qualify their point-to-pointers. A back injury and permanently numb right foot from a hunting accident has ended her riding career, but she is now much in demand as a racing steward.
‘We were at school and pony club together, and both hunted, but then lost touch’ 25
THE GOLF WIDOWS
‘We agree on most things, which helps when you’re sharing a horse’ Debs grew up in the farming world, at Cessford near Morebattle, not from a particularly horsey family: her grandfather and aunt rode, but not her parents. One day her father went to the horse sales in Kelso and came home with a pony for her and a horse for her Mum. Her mum never took it up, but it was the start of a life with horses for Debs. The two friends re-connected at an Open Day at Lucinda Russell’s National Hunt yard at Arlary House in Fife. ‘As we arrived at the yard I spotted Bel and her husband Fraser, and I turned to Colin and said “oh, that’s an old school friend of mine, I wonder what she’s doing here”,’ said Debs. ‘Unbeknown to me, Bel was saying much the same to Fraser. It wasn’t that we didn’t like each other, it was just a bit of a shock after so long. We said hello somewhat awkwardly, but quickly thawed and re-kindled our friendship.’ It turned out their partners already knew each other through golf, and within days the two men were playing 18 holes together while their other halves were heading to the Cheltenham sales to look for a new horse. By pooling their
resources Debs and Bel bought ‘twice the horse’ that they could have individually. Bloodstock agent Tom Malone had bought horses for both Bel and Debs in the past, and knew what they liked, so they met him at the sales. But on the day, One for Arthur, a five-year-old who had come from point-to-pointing in Ireland, was the only one for them. ‘The nice thing is that we each went round looking at the horses individually,’ says Debs. ‘When we compared notes it turned out that One for Arthur was the only horse that stood out for either of us – there was no debate at all.’ ‘He’s got such presence, such a lovely look, with his big lugs, and he moves beautifully, he uses every inch of himself,’ explains Bel. ‘I always look for a horse who could do anything: dressage, eventing, jumping or racing. He’s very athletic, and conformation-wise he has a nice short cannon bone, but did look a little long in the back.’ ‘But he was only a baby,’ interjects Debs. ‘Since then he has really grown into his frame, and I think there’s still a little bit to come from him.’ A day at Cheltenham is quite an experience and great fun. Horses can be viewed first thing, then there’s a day’s racing then sales in the evening. ‘We were invited into the box of one of Lucinda’s other owners for the day, and the bubbly
‘One for Arthur is a lovely all-rounder and a nice big softie as well, but he knows he’s a winner and loves all the attention’
Top right - John Grossick
“Quote to run in here and on and on and so on
was flowing, so we were in good form by the time we got to the sale, and our bid budget had gone up a bit,’ laughs Debs. One for Arthur has proved to be more than worth it. ‘If you are in racing you want to be running at the Saturday meetings at Kelso, Haydock, Newcastle and so on, as that’s where there’s more media attention and more money involved,’ Bel explains. ‘One for Arthur has always been a Saturday horse.’ ‘He paid his way even before Grand National day,’ adds Debs. ‘Last year we ran him a bit too much and he pulled up once, but apart from that he’s always been placed. He’s done well at hurdles (National Hunt racing) too.’ ‘He’s a nice big softie,’ they agree. ‘A few weeks ago some elderly ladies visited the yard, and he was so gentle and sweet with them, a real gentleman. Mind you he knows he’s a winner, loves all the attention and is a huge poser when he knows he’s being admired.’
Top left: Bel and Debs with their Grand National trophy with its gold inner and silver outer. Top right: One For Arthur lapping up the attention.
Belinda first met Lucinda Russell when her husband successfully bid on a ‘morning on the gallops’ at the Jedforest Hunt Ball, and Bel and Debs have great admiration for the Fife-based trainer. They like to be in on discussions and planning, and while Lucinda respects their knowledge they completely trust her to make the right training and racing decisions. Over the years they have become good friends too, and Lucinda and Scu (partner Peter Scudamore) always make sure the owners have a good time on race days. And of jockey Derek Fox, ‘we didn’t want anyone else riding our horse that day. He’d ridden him before with success, and then he had an accident four weeks before the Grand National, and only got the all clear to ride a few days before. We were mightily relieved.’ So what’s next for One for Arthur? ‘He’s on his holidays in a big field with friends, and will go back to Lucinda in August,’ says Bel, ‘and we’ll probably run with the same plan as we did this year. But you can never tell what will happen next for a horse.’ For Bel and Debs, their friendship is a lot more than just being golf widows. ‘We get on really well,’ Bel says, ‘and seem to have the same ideas and opinions on most things, which is great when it comes to sharing a horse.’
THE BIG INTERVIEW
It’s all about the horse Television presenter Lee McKenzie’s love of horses has been a constant since her childhood in Ayrshire, and she still seeks out their company at every opportunity BY JULIA WELSTEAD
ith her manic worldwide schedule covering Six Nations rugby, Formula One motor racing, the Boat Race and lots of other things in between, it’s hard to find a moment when Lee McKenzie can sit down for a chat. We find that moment on a blustery, mad-March day in Edinburgh, the morning before she is due to attend the Scotland versus Italy rugby match at Murrayfield. Rugby is enjoyable, she confides, but comes nowhere near matching her passions for horses, an obsession she has had almost since she could walk, and which she got from her mother. ‘My Mum rode horses from an early age,’ she says. ‘She wasn’t born into it, so it didn’t come easily for her. She saved up pocket money and found a way to ride, then bought her first pony, a Connemara called Limerick. She used to ride starters’ horses to Ayr racecourse, often riding from Turnberry to Ayr, some 15 miles or more. Then she broke her back in an accident whilst riding out and leading other horses, leaving her still able to walk, but in pain.’ Despite this, Lee and her brother were given riding lessons and ponies, then horses, as they grew up. Lee freely admits that she hasn’t the riding talent or nerve of her brother Grant, who still events, but explains that she loves the experience of a good horse-human relationship more than the buzz of competition, for which a few bad falls involving head injuries probably dampened her appetite. These days she and her brother share a number of horses that he trains and competes, while she visits as often as possible, at least once a month. Her core fascination, Lee explains, lies in the wide variety of horse types and what they can do, from the nobility of heavy work horses, or the speed and agility of eventers, racers and polo ponies, to the fluid paces of a top dressage
Image: Lee is a Patron of World Horse Welfare and regularly visits Belwade Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Aberdeenshire.
â€˜I love the experience of a good horse-human relationship more than the buzz of competitionâ€™
THE BIG INTERVIEW
diva, or the cheeky mischief of a hairy Shetland pony. To this end, Lee seeks out horses wherever she goes, and has an ongoing personal challenge to get horses involved, whatever and wherever she is reporting. Who else, for instance, could have a horse appear for several minutes within a Formula One interview? Her love of horses and her career intersected at a surprisngly early stage. ‘I became a reporter when I was still a teenager at school,’ she laughs. ‘I used to report on the Saturday matches at Ayr Rugby Club, so I’d ride my ponies in the morning then rush home to wash, change, eat and get to the ground in time for kick-off. Mum had to taxi me as I was too young to drive. I was allowed Monday mornings off school to do my write-ups. This was for the Ayrshire Post, and before long I had added a regular column called “Horsing around with Lee McKenzie”, reporting on any local equestrian activities, which attracted a lot of followers.’ With such a flying start to her journalistic career, Lee went on to take a degree in Edinburgh, covering rugby fixtures while her contemporaries had bar jobs. Her connection to horses waned for a short while when she had to have a much-loved horse put down during her first year at university, but she never lost touch with them, and seeks them out wherever she goes. This includes at least an annual visit to a ranch near Austin, Texas for a good dose of Western riding. At one point, laughs Lee, this led to taking part in a reining competition after a mere 48 hours of tuition from British Western reining champion Francesca Sternberg.
‘It was mad, really, to enter a competition where one gallops full tilt into the arena, screeches to a halt with the horse’s hind quarters sliding underneath, turns on a sixpence and whirls in circles, after such a short training opportunity. But my competitive streak emerged and I was determined to win. Thanks to a missed flying change I came equal first with Michael Schumacher. It’s such a different form of riding, and really teaches balance and cues like nothing else – you only have to think something and your horse is doing it, probably faster than you are prepared for.’ It was when Lee was working on the Landward series in 2009 that she came across the World Horse Welfare (WHW) charity and immediately knew she wanted to get involved and help. Whilst being blown away by the scale of the WHW operation, and what they were achieving in the UK alone, Lee was also shocked: with donations to animal charities exceeding those to human charities, the perception is that we Brits love our animals – so where were all these abused and neglected horses coming from? When Lee found out the amazing endeavours of WHW worldwide, supported almost entirely by private donorship, she decided to become a patron. She visits the WHW Scottish Rescue and Rehoming Centre at Aboyne in Aberdeenshire as often as she can, as well as the other three centres across Britain – the Glenda Spooner Farm in Somerset, Hall Farm in Norfolk and Penny Farm in Lancashire. They are all great places to visit, says Lee, with activities, fun and regular events for all the family, even those not so interested in horses. Just visiting the centres is supportive of the charity,
‘I’m taking part in the 2017 World Horse Welfare ‘Morning Feed’ fundraising initiative’ and donations are always welcome. The latest WHW fundraising initiative is the 2017 ‘Morning Feed’ in which supporters are encouraged to cook up some feed-store-themed goodies that will tempt equines and humans alike, and invite friends and family to get together for a fundraising brunch. Lee herself has devised a delicious and healthy ‘Cool Mix’ granola, while eventer Jane Holderness-Roddam CBE LVO has developed the ‘Ultimate Power Breakfast’ and fellow patron and eventer Pippa Funnell has baked up some ‘Healthy Granola Biscuits’. These, and other recipe ideas, can be found on the WHW website along with a registration form and even bunting and poster downloads. Founded by Ada Cole in 1927, WHW celebrates its 90th anniversary this year and current campaigns include such things as calling for an end to long-distance transportation to slaughterhouses, ending live export from the UK to unknown destinations and conditions, making CCTV a legal requirement in equine slaughterhouses and ‘removing the blinkers’ on horse
Above: At WHW Belwade Farm. Right: Campaigning for WHW. Below right: Hunter trialing as a youngster in Ayr. Below: Interviewing Team GB dressage riders at the Rio Olympics
‘Who else could have a horse appear for several minutes within a Formula 1 interview?’ eqymagazine.com 2017 eqymagazine.com 2016
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‘I immediately knew I wanted to get involved and help with World Horse Welfare’
Above: Belwade horses love Lee’s attentions. Right: Filming at Belwade.
numbers, identities and welfare – and campaigning for a robust passport system across the EU. Much of their work is also educational, especially in places like Honduras where work equids (horses, donkeys, mules and asses) are often kept in appalling conditions, too upsetting to contemplate for a lot of horse lovers: but that’s all the more reason to support the work of WHW. If Lee is passionate about horse welfare, the sports journalist side to her was equally enthused when she was asked to cover the Rio Olympics. Her eyes shine as she recalls being blown away by the incredible experience of being in and amongst such equestrian heroes as Nick Skelton and Charlotte Dujardin in their moments of glory.
Returning to Rio to attend the Paralympics, Lee was advised by her friend and colleague Clare Balding, who also has an equestrian background in that her father is trainer Ian Balding, that she would be bound to ‘well up’ at some point. Sure enough, that point came when she watched 22-year-old Danish competitor Stinna Tange Kaastup complete her dressage test with such grace and poise, and then be lifted and hugged by her parents, revealing her complete lack of legs. Lee has covered numerous equestrian events including the British Dressage Convention, Badminton, Cheltenham, and of course the equestrian extravaganza that is Olympia, and loves it all, not least because she has a vested interest in watching personal friends such as Carl Hester and Tina Cook competing. ‘I love it all, but what really makes it for me is if I can get up close and personal with the horses in the warmup paddocks, or afterwards when they have done their utmost. Being close to horses and feeling their awesome, gentle, non-judgemental presence, that’s where it’s at for me.’ It’s all about the horse.
‘I love to get up close and personal with horses, and feel their gentle presence’ World Horse Welfare www.world horsewelfare.org 08000 480 180
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
In Richard’s career as a producer he has won at both the Horse of the Year Show and Olympia
Below right: Richard at Ayr Show 2017 with Dales stallion Robert The Bruce. Right inset: Richard on Goldie, led by his uncle. Below inset: Driving with his father William, mother Mary, and brother Billy.
Who introduced you to horses? My dad was horsey and used to do a bit of driving and riding himself. What age were you when you ﬁrst sat on a horse or pony? I was probably aged between one and two when I was first put on a pony. Who was your ﬁrst horse or pony? My first pony was Goldie, a Welsh Section A. Angel or demon? Tell us a bit about them... He was a very safe pony but was prone to putting his head down for grass and I would go straight out the front door. Which horse or pony taught you the most when you were young? Probably my first horse, Ohio, who was bred by a local farmer and I bought unbroken. She finished up as an intermediate eventer. What was your most embarrassing moment when you were a young rider? There have been so many, but once when vaulting onto a youngster at a busy show I went straight over the saddle and landed in a heap on the other side – in front of everyone. Did you join the Pony Club and how important do you think it is for today’s young riders? Yes I joined at an early age and stayed on until they threw me out. It is the best grounding any kid can get.
Which rider inspired you the most when you were young? Caroline Bradley – she had an amazing talent and was a beautiful rider, and locally Greer Henry, who taught us in Pony Club and did a bit of eventing. You now specialise in showing – what do you enjoy most about this discipline? I enjoy the preparation of the young horses, from breaking them in to getting them in the ring. Done correctly, showing is a good grounding for any young horse. What advice would you oﬀer parents of children who want to take up riding today? You should buy the safest and most suitable pony for your child and join your local Pony Club branch as it’s the best way to learn all disciplines. The training available is invaluable and sets them in good stead for life.
Right: Jodie on Editor. Below inset: Jodie aged nine on Andy. Bottom right inset: Jo Jack on her ﬁrst horse, Titus.
‘He was the pony who made me love showjumping’
From the horse’s mouth Five of Scotland’s leading riders and producers speak to EQy about their first ponies and the role Pony Club played in their equestrian education
Producer and showing rider Jo Jack won at the Horse of the Year Show on Dunedin Harris in 2000, the only Highland pony to have won the working hunter pony championship title
Above - equiscot photography, Main left - Jim Crichton
Specialising in showjumping, Jodie, 21, won the Scottish Branch Championship, came second in the Scottish Ladies Championship at SNEC and qualified all four classes at the Royal Highland Show in 2016 Who introduced you to horses? I was introduced to horses and riding before I could walk. Both my parents are involved with horses and my dad showjumped and coached as a job when I was born, so I've been around horses all my life. What age were you when you ﬁrst sat on a horse or pony? I first sat on a pony at under a year old as my older sister Rebecca had a little pony and I always wanted on it when she rode. Who was your ﬁrst horse or pony? My first pony was a Welsh cross Shetland called Mowgli. I thought he was awesome and he was the first one I took to shows. He was my sister’s pony first, then I got him. We sold Mowgli to friends when I outgrew him and I bought him back myself when they finished with him so he could retire with us. Which horse or pony taught you the most when you were young? The pony who taught me the most was Andy. I did everything on him – showjumping, cross-country, dressage and polo. He was only 11.2hh but forward going with a great canter. He was the pony who made love showjumping. What was your most embarrassing moment when you were a young rider? Mum still speaks about me going to an evening
showjumping show when I was little and jumping number one and then asking them to let me out to go and get chips from the burger van! Did you join the Pony Club and how important do you think it is for today’s young riders? I was a member of Pony Club from about 4-9 years old. It was a good introduction to different disciplines and to meet new people my own age, but as we had our own yard with plenty company and both my parents teaching I never stayed that long. I think for kids with a pony at home it's a brilliant way to make new friends. Which rider inspired you the most when you were young? Scott Brash because he shows what a talented rider from Scotland can achieve with hard work. I think his style and calmness when under pressure is incredible. Also my dad because I always wanted to be able to ride like him one day and he has worked really hard to get me good horses and spent a lot of time taking me to shows. You now specialist in showjumping – what do you enjoy most about this discipline? I specialise in showjumping because I love it. You can't beat the feeling of a great round. My whole family is passionate about showjumping, so it is in my blood. What advice would you oﬀer parents of children who want to take up riding today? Let them ride. It is one of best opportunities you'll ever be able to give them.
Who introduced you to horses? My mum had a pony when she was young, so when I was eight she took me and my brother to a local riding school for lessons. What age were you when you ﬁrst sat on a horse or pony? When I was seven I went to Dublin with my dad for a family wedding. His aunt had an old Connemara pony, and I was allowed to sit on him. Who was your ﬁrst horse or pony? Mum bought a 13.3hh cob type pony called Chocolate, who we shared. At 13.3hh, she was quite a lot of pony for an eightyear-old, but it was a great education. Angel or demon? Tell us a bit about them... She used to hack out far and then turn and bolt home! She would also trundle along
all year, then the day before the Pony Club Gymkhana she would go lame.
Which horse or pony taught you the most when you were young? My first horse, Titus. He was a 15.1hh Welsh Cob D x TB, bred by Mrs Medley of Nimrod Saddlery. It was spring when we tried him, and he was looking scruffy. But when he popped a cavaletti, clearing it by three feet, we saw something special. What was your most embarrassing moment when you were a young rider? I remember being carted on Titus in the dressage at an event and doing a couple of circuits before getting control again. Did you join the Pony Club and how important do you think it is for today’s young riders? I was a member of Kincardine Pony Club, where I joined in at rallies and attended camp. Pony Club was a vital part of my equine education, so I would encourage youngsters and their parents to join a local branch. The Pony Club Manual was my bible; it encouraged me to expand my knowledge by reading, and then putting it into practice.
Top left - Jim Crichton, bottom right Stephen Hammond Photography
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Which rider inspired you the most when you were young? I had a few mentors as I progressed through the ranks of Pony Club, Riding Club and showing world. Maggie Inglis taught me at Pony Club and then gave me encouragement as I progressed into Highland Ponies. I also competed in teams with her and Jack Cochrane at Riding Club. Pat Stirling gave me Highland advice, but also found me an amazing little horse, Bemersyde Amnesty, when I was looking for my next Titus. I admit, I never stop learning from all my friends, fellow competitors and instructors, and most are so generous with ideas and advice. You now specialise in showing – what do you enjoy most about this discipline? I love taking on a new pony, usually as a novice, and bringing them on to achieve as much as they can. I enjoy showing, but do this alongside my local riding club, North East Fife, and also unaffiliated dressage. Highland ponies, in particular, have taken me to places I could only dream about as a child. To ride down the centre as part of your lap of honour at the Horse of the Year Show and Olympia is the most amazing experience. What advice would you oﬀer parents of children who want to take up riding today? Take your child to an approved riding centre, where they will be given a chance to learn to ride and handle ponies. They should be encouraged to ride in all weathers and learn to do all the jobs that go with ponies, such as mucking out, tack cleaning and grooming. Then, and only then, if they still want a pony, think about getting one.
Above: Jo Jack with Highland pony Trowan Maverick.
An eventer and mounted policeman in Lanarkshire, Alan is a BHS registered mounted instructor Who introduced you to horses? My
parents weren't horsey but my brother and I had ponies from an early age. At one point my dad did a bit of carriage driving and my mum took lessons and enjoyed common riding. Their horsey careers came to a halt in order to cart my brother and I all over the country to Pony Club events.
What age were you when you ﬁrst sat on a horse or pony? My gran bought me
my first pony, a Welsh yearling, for my first birthday. By the time I was of an age to do anything with her, she had become a pet in the field and never did anything other than occasionally let us sit on her bare back. We had her until she died an old pony.
Who was your ﬁrst horse or pony?
My first pony was Bambi, the Welsh yearling that I mentioned. The first pony I competed on was called Sparky – he was 12.2hh and a great little jumper.
Angel or demon? Tell us a bit about them...
Sparky was an angel and it was probably the initial enjoyment with him which kept me going onto a 13.2hh. I think if kids are going to continue riding it’s important that they have a good first pony to have fun on. It’s easy enough to come off an honest pony without worrying about riding a little devil.
Which horse or pony taught you the most when you were young? My first horse was
a 15.2hh bay gelding called Poldark. I had him in senior pony club and did my first BHS horse trials on him. He was a great cross-country horse. We bought him from Robert Noble, who was famous a trainer at that time.
What was your most embarrassing moment when you were a young rider? I
had a 13.2hh pony called Blaze. She was a great jumping pony but occasionally the excitement got the better of her in the show jumping ring, resulting in her stopping for the toilet during the round. It provided Pony Club friends with a good laugh on many occasions. I didn’t see the funny side.
Did you join the Pony Club and how important do you think it is for today’s young riders? I was a member of Lanark and Up-
perward Pony Club. I still recommend Pony Club to anyone with young children. It’s great fun and at the same time teaches the kids proper horsemanship. It is interesting that my current job as training sergeant for Scottish Mounted Police has brought me back to a manual which is called the Mounted Police Training Manual but is almost identical to the manual of horsemanship that is used by the Pony Club. My son Ker is three and we are looking for a first pony for him at the moment. I now live in Eglinton country so I’m not sure whether Ker will travel back to Lanark and Upperwood or whether he will join what was our main rival in my Pony Club days.
Which rider inspired you the most when you were young? When I left school at 17
I went to work for Simon Rodgerson, who ran a jumping and eventing yard in Ayrshire. It was the help I received from Simon which undoubtedly took me on the successful eventing and jumping career I had. Simon lives in Italy now and I still consider him the most talented horseman I have ever worked with. Simon could see a stride before he
SHOWJUMPING â€“ DOUGLAS DUFFIN
The Duffin dynasty Not born of equestrian royalty, Douglas Duffin set out from an early age with talent, focus and hard graft, intent on fulfilling his sporting ambitions BY CAL FLYN IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN
EQy 17 Douglas Duffin interview.indd 38
‘Five star is the highest level, so you’re among the greats. With Tim Stockdale, Robert Smith and Jessica Mendoza in my team at the 5* Nations Cup in Sopot, I really felt I’d reached the top’
Image: Duffin with Uni Stop and Chento D. eqymagazine.com 2017
EQy 17 Douglas Duffin interview.indd 39
SHOWJUMPING WILLS OAKDEN – DOUGLAS DUFFIN
‘The hardest element can be keeping hold of the best horses – they go for such big money that the owners are often tempted to sell’
EQy 17 Douglas Duffin interview.indd 40
“Big old chunk of a pullquote to run in here and on and on and so on
Right - Equiscot Photography
howjumping is a sport often dominated by dynasties: the Whitakers; the Smiths; the Charleses… So what’s a keen young rider to do if he doesn’t happen to have been born into sporting royalty? One solution, it would seem, is to find a mentor and together create an empire all of your own. Douglas Duffin, one of Scotland’s most successful showjumpers, got into riding at a young age, and by fourteen was spending his summers at the nearest showjumping yard, Ron Brady’s in Clackmannanshire, where he started full-time at 16. This was an association that would be consequential, and continues to this day: though Douglas no longer works for Ron, the pair keep their horses in neighbouring yards, sharing an indoor arena in East Muirhead, near Dollar. Very quickly Ron identified him as a future talent and encouraged him to compete on many of his own horses. Within the year Douglas had competed at the Royal Highland Show (where, in 2006, he would go on to win the Young Masters) and qualified for the Horse of the Year Show, a feat he’s since repeated every year. Now aged 34, Douglas’s career has gone from strength to strength. He
made his debut for the GB squad in 2008, riding in the 4* Senior Nations Cup in Prague; won the Puissance at HOYS twice, jointly in 2011 and outright in 2013, with a jump of 7ft 3in; came third in the Hickstead Derby —all on Julie McLelland’s Volcano. ‘He was unique,’ says Douglas. ‘If you asked him to jump through flames he would do it.’ Last year he attained one of his greatest accolades yet when he was selected for the team at the 5* Nations Cup in Sopot. ‘Five star is the highest level, so you’re alongside the greats,’ he explains. ‘Tim Stockdale, Robert Smith and Jessica Mendoza were on my team, so I really felt that I’d reached the top.’ He rode new top horse Quidam B-Z, known fondly as ‘Cash’, a 12-yearold warmblood jointly owned with Richard Jenkinson. ‘This year we represented Great Britain twice, at 3* and 5* Nations Cups, and put in solid performances. We also won the Cock o’ the North at the Great Yorkshire Show last year, the biggest national competition there is in Britain.’ Cash is a horse with incredible scope, but a difficult one too. ‘He throws his head around a lot, and gets excited. He was a stallion before I got
EQy 17 Douglas Duffin interview.indd 41
Left: A wee kiss from Chento D. Above: Douglas and Chento D in action.
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Main image & inset: Duffin and Cash won the prestigious Cock o’ the North competition at the Great Yorkshire Show in 2015.
Above - Courtesy of Great Yorkshire Show
‘I’m fortunate to have a horse with such talent, many talented riders don’t get that opportunity’ him, and he was gelded as they found him too much of a handful to ride – but once they gelded him, he was still a handful.’ That was where Douglas and Richard stepped in, considering the purchase something of a gamble. ‘Around the stable, he’s great,’ says Douglas. ‘It’s just in the arena, when his adrenaline gets up. He’s quite boisterous and thinks he knows best. He can be quite hard to control, but his talent sees him through. If he was easy to ride, he’d have been too expensive for us. ‘I’m fortunate to have a horse with such talent. Some people don’t get that opportunity. There are lots of talented riders who either don’t get the breaks or they don’t have the financial backing to reach their potential.’ He pays tribute to his sponsors, who have helped ‘a huge amount’ – AW Jenkinson, Woof Wear, Allen and Page, and Butet. But at the top levels, the hardest element can be keeping hold of the best horses. ‘They go for such big money, once you get them jumping to that standard. So it’s hard to keep a hold of them, to talk your owner or sponsor into holding onto them.’ Ron, the rider and coach so vital in helping Douglas get his career off the ground, well knew the difficulties of getting established in a sport awash with millionaires. Once dubbed the ‘Billy Elliot of showjumping’ by the Daily Record, Ron was a miner’s son who kept his first pony in the garage of a friend’s council house. Now it seems the next in line to this self-made showjumping succession is stable jockey Jordan
Thomson, a 23-year-old who has worked for Douglas at East Muirhead for three years. ‘He’s come from the same background as me,’ says Douglas of his protégé. ‘He seems to be learning from my mistakes, doing things quicker. So, for example, what took me four years to achieve, he’s managed in two. What I’ve learnt I’ve put into Jordan. ‘Between the two of us it’s great. I can only ride so many horses properly, so now that Jordan rides at a really high level we can produce double the number of horses at our yard.’ And there are plenty of future prospects. New arrival Uni Stop, owned by Nick Motmans and formerly ridden by John Whitaker, looks like he’ll make a strong second horse; Pyjama Jack, from the Tapitlaw Stud, and Chenta D, owned by Fiona Burgoyne, are also performing well. Jordan made his grand prix debut at the Great Yorkshire Show last year on Lui Viton, jumping clear and finishing in the top eight. Then, unfortunately, the horse was sold a few weeks later. ‘He was gutted,’ Douglas sighs, ‘but it’s part of the sport. He’s not got the finance to buy a top horse, but he’s happy to work for it. So we’re just going to make one.’ Douglas himself has certainly never been put off by the prospect of hard work – and it’s paid off. For the rest of 2017, he hopes for more of the same success, and more opportunities to represent the country at the highest level. We wish him the best.
EQy 17 Douglas Duffin interview.indd 43
HORSE HEROES – IAN AND ELIZABETH COMRIE
Top: Ian Comrie competing in show jumping in the 1950’s. Right: Ian and Liz below their tack room ceiling covered in a lifetime of prizes.
PRE-1970, IAN AND LIZ COMRIE RAN PIGS AT HOUSTON FARM, but when the UK joined the Common Market and pork prices fell, they sold their pigs and bought ponies. Thus began the legend that is Houston Farm Riding Stables. In fact, Ian and Liz had both been riding since they were three years old, with Ian competing in show jumping from the 1950’s. They met at Lanark market in 1959 and by late 1962 they had set up their stables, alongside their pig farm, at that stage with only Ian’s show jumper plus one other horse. The 14th October 1972 is a day engraved in their memories: at Kelso sales they bought three trekking ponies, took them home and the very next day held their first riding lessons. By the end of that first week they had over 20 pupils. ‘We started it for local kids,’ says Liz, ‘and it just grew and grew.’ More than forty years later, they now have 56 horses, and people come to Houston Farm from all over the country. They have families of three generations who have all learned to ride with them. To help fund and develop their stables, Liz worked as a night nurse for over 24 years, as well as helping Ian with lessons and building work so that
they now have two indoor schools and an outdoor jumping arena. Their children – Jane, Fiona, John and Anne –have also become involved, with Anne now being a partner and chief instructor, Fiona and Jane both teaching, and John helping with IT. What makes Houston Farm stand out is Ian and Liz’s burning desire to help people from all walks of life, including those with extra challenges. ‘I hate labels,’ Liz explains, ‘and I always say “you show me the perfect person” because everyone has problems of one sort or another, be they mental, physical or circumstantial.’ She used to work with a doctor, who would send children to her with details of diagnosis and prognosis and predictions of how much could be achieved, and Liz would ‘tear them up’ and put all the children in together, whatever their level. ‘Children are natural mimics, and will learn from those around them, so it makes sense to mix the more advanced with the newer,’ she says. This is borne out by a recent spate of appreciative letters (in response to a massive 53% rates increase that threatens the stable’s future) from Houston Farm pupils who have gone on to achieve great things in both the horse world and in their lives in general. Ian and Liz like to help horses as well, so a lot have come to them from people who haven’t been able to cope with them, or no longer need them. Perhaps the most striking example is ‘Womble’, a pony who was about to be put down aged 14, and yet is still working and going strong at 40. ‘Mind you he’s a toe-rag with a mind of his own,’ laughs Liz, as she recalls that the six-week delay in his arrival at Houston turned out to be because that’s how long it took his owners to get him into the truck. ‘But the kids love him, and he teaches them a lot, and we love him. With horses, once they know you and trust that you will care for them, there’s a bond that you have forever.’ Even when people have grown up and moved abroad they still keep in touch. ‘This place is more than a riding school,’ says Liz. ‘It’s a family and a community. People come here and make lifelong friends, and for us, it’s much more than a business – it’s our life.’
‘W It’s a family affair
e started it for local kids and it just grew and grew’
BY JULIA WELSTEAD IMAGE ANGUS BLACKBURN
â€˜We started Houston Riding School for local kids, and it just grew and grewâ€™
BREEDING THE BEST
Homegrown talent If you are looking for a top quality horse or pony it is no longer necessary to go abroad as Scotland has a wealth of studs producing fabulous stock right on your doorstep BY JULIA WELSTEAD
Caledonia Dressage Horses With a successful eventing career and the beginnings of a small thoroughbred stud back in New Zealand, Reay Campbellâ€™s dream was to breed worldclass horses. Forty years ago she married and moved to Scotland, found a stud in distress and bought twelve mares, foals and young horses: the origins of Caledonia Dressage Horses. Reayâ€™s principles and careful study of pedigree and performance have helped her establish a dressage breeding stud of national and international importance. In her quest to find the very
best bloodlines for her breeding programme, Reay travels Europe to study stallions and watch competitions. Nestled in a sheltered glen in a beautiful area of the Highlands, just north of Bonar Bridge, Balblair Farm is an idyllic setting with sheltered pastures where the horses live outside all year round with access to large warm barns in both summer and winter. They live in groups where they can graze and play, behaving as horses are meant to. All horses are foaled at home and the foals are imprinted and sensibly managed from birth. They are handled quietly and firmly to produce polite, confident individuals who want to please and are willing to learn. Their regular natural exercise and outdoor life produces strong bone, muscle and tendon growth, and agile surefootedness.
‘They are handled quietly and firmly to produce polite, confident individuals who want to please and are willing to learn’ By breeding using artificial insemination, Reay has been able to access the best stallions in the world. Getting deliveries to this part of Scotland, however, has lead to her dubious nickname of ‘the semen lady’ when she collects the important parcels from DHL in Inverness. The star among the illustrious Caledonia mares is Loretta Live, a direct daughter of Loretta – perhaps the most influential mare in the history of dressage breeding. Loretta has two sons in the top ten of the World Dressage breeding ranking and she appears in the pedigrees of well over 10,000 horses worldwide. Modern technology means that Loretta Live no longer carries her own foals but lives a life of luxury. Last year she produced three embryos to three different stallions and these are now being carried by recipient mares residing at Balblair, who are awaiting the arrivals of their precious cargo. Reay also had the opportunity to buy twin embryos from the sister of the Legendary Valegro, who when ridden by Charlotte Dujardin became the double Olympic Champion and is the best dressage horse the world has seen. Caledonia has produced regional and national champions and a Paralympic reserve horse for Rio. There are fourteen foals expected in the 2017 season and many stars waiting in the wings.
Collessie Clydesdales Left: Reay Campbell makes sure all the youngsters are good to handle at Caledonia Dressage Horses. Above: Ronnie Black with Collessie Jennifer at his Collessie Clydesdales Stud. Below right: Stunning colt Collessie Consort takes a sprint across his paddock.
The Black family of collessie have bred, worked and shown Clydesdales for four generations and are currently thriving in the care of Ronnie Black and his sons Pete and Mike. There are twenty horses, including three stallions, standing at stud, a lively group of yearlings and youngsters, a lovely herd of broodmares and a few ‘retirees’ all living the life of Riley in the rolling fields of Fife. Ronnie gives me a tour of the various groups and as we drive into each field the horses all saunter over to say hello and be introduced. Margaret, Robyn, Blossom, Julia, Peggy, Elspeth, Maxine: many of them are named after Ronnie’s own children and grandchildren (Heavy Horses traditionally tend to be given human names, possibly harking back to their days working on farms.) All the horses winter out in sheltered fields without rugs and look fantastic for it – fit and in great condition. Youngsters grow up in natural herds, are handled regularly and are in the show ring from an early age. Mares tend to be put to the stallion in their second or third year, depending on their maturity. Actor and horse lover Martin Clunes bought his two Clydesdales, Ronnie and Bruce, from the Collessie Stud in 2010. Since then they have become TV stars in their own right, appearing in his Heavy Horsepower ITV documentary.
Contact Reay Campbell on 01863 766 655 email@example.com www.caledoniasporthorses.com Caledonia Sport Horses, Balblair Farm, Bonar Bridge, Sutherland IV24 3AW. eqymagazine.com 2017
BREEDING THE BEST
‘By focusing on excellent bloodlines, the Ironsides at Moray Firth Stud reliably produce great competition horses’ Collessie genetics have long been at the forefront of the breed, achieving many show championships, including repeatedly winning both the Cawdor Cup and the Overall Highland Show Championship. Most recently, three-year-old Collessie Jennifer has won the SEBA (Scottish Equestrian Breeds Association) Horse of the Year Award 2016 for high-achieving Scottish-bred horses. She is the fourth generation of her line to be champion at the Royal Highland Show, following Amber, Amalie and Sophie. Ronnie puts their continuing success down to two things, luck and the four people who influenced and helped him. They are his father Hugh, who founded the Collessie prefix, Robert Laurie (Kettlestoun), Charles Carrick (Easter Littleward), and John Young (Doura). Having visited Collessie Stud a few times over the years, I would add hard work, commitment and love to this list, for Ronnie cannot help but show his affection for all his horses, and his son Pete looks to be of the same ilk. Horses and foals are available for sale throughout the year, and are well known for their success in the show ring, as well as being popular for riding, driving and working. Fresh and chilled semen is available from all stallions. Contact Ronnie on 01337 810257 or 07885 442860 firstname.lastname@example.org; www.collessiefeeds.com Collessie Clydesdales, Newton of Collessie, Ladybank, Cupar, Fife KY15 7RQ
Moray Firth Stud Horse scotland equine Breeder of tHe Year 2015 award winners, the MFS stud is run by Caroline and Gordon Ironside and produces well-bred sport horses of mainly KWPN (Dutch Warmblood), Oldenburg and Hanoverian origin. The stud is located at Damside of Melrose Farm, overlooking the beautiful Moray Firth in the north-east. By focusing on blood lines that excel in good temperament, conformation, paces and jumping ability, the Ironsides reliably produce great competition horses. Caroline is especially careful to breed from mares who have successfully competed, or come directly from competition bloodlines, as she is a firm believer in the quality of the mare being the most important factor in breeding horses with great potential. As they say, ‘quality breeds quality’ and the results speak for themselves: many MFS offspring have gone on to successful careers in the worlds of showing, showjumping, dressage and eventing, such that the MFS and MF prefix/suffix is internationally known and respected. With stallions standing at stud, 12
‘Kelly Peace currently runs Hools Shetland Stud, which was started in 1958 by her grandmother, Ivy Cromarty, who still helps out at the grand age of 93’
Hools Shetland Stud
broodmares due to foal this year, and a selection of yearlings for sale, Moray Firth Stud is a busy place. Contact Caroline Ironside on 01261 851879 or 0791 7775035 email@example.com www.mfsstudfarm.com Moray Firth Stud, Damside of Melrose, Gamrie, Banff, Aberdeenshire AB45 3SA
Top left: Caroline and Gordon Ironside and daughter Abbie Jane with Lady Fabienne and her foal Rhodium Star. Left: Dorothy Drury, MFS manageress, with the stud stallion Don Aqui. Below: Kelly Peace showing Hools Janet at the Royal Highland Show in 2016. Below right: Hools Rising High, Supreme Champion at the Orcadian Peedie Horse of the Year Show 2015.
The SheTlandS in Orkney! Hools Shetland Stud is near Toab, in the southern stretch of Orkney Mainland – once called Hrossey, meaning horse island – for very good reason. Kelly Peace currently runs the stud, which was started in 1958 by her grandmother Ivy Cromarty, who still helps out at the grand age of 93. Since its inception, Hools has registered 178 foals with the SPSBS (Shetland Pony Stud Book Society), won the Champion Shetland Pony at the Orkney County 11 times with 7 Reserves, 5 Supreme Overall Horse and 3 Reserves. In both 1965 and 2015 they won Supreme Horse, Champion Shetland and Reserve Shetland. Hools specialises in breeding beautiful, standard (38” to 42”) black show quality Shetland ponies with mainly Marshwood and Wells bloodlines. With good bone and substance, kind temperaments and great movement for performance activities, these are excellent ponies for young riders, for driving and for showing. Hools currently have four brood mares and three stallions standing at stud. Born in 2010, stallion Hools Rising High is proving to be rather a star. He had a great 2016, ridden by Rebecca Fraser at the ORC (Orkney Riding Club) Show, where he achieved 1st NPS (National Pony Society)
CTION BREEDING THE BEST
Scotland Novice M&M (Mountain and Moorland) Small Breed Ridden, which qualified him for the Blair international NPS Horse trials finals. In July he attended the PBSA (Pony Breeders of Shetland Association) Evaluations in Shetland where he got a gold award for his Ridden and a silver award for Long Reining. In August he was Overall Performance Champion at the Voe Show in Shetland. Hools are currently working towards taking him to the Royal Highland Show for the small M&M ridden class 2017. Hools have sold ponies onto performance homes as far afield as Cheshire and Yorkshire. Contact Kelly Peace on 01856 861 230 or 07906 892 225 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hoolsshetlands.co.uk Hools Shetland Stud, The Brough, Toab, Orkney KW17 2QG
Above: Cumbria Black Pearl trotting across the beautiful lands at Over Whitlaw Farm in the Scottish Borders. Below: Black Kareem, one of Cumbria Arabian’s stallions recently sold to a competition home.
– it’s vital that they are able to complete 160km in a day and still trot up sound – and athletic paces. Cumbria Black Beaujangles is currently standing at stud and continues the legacy of his father, Al Sood. Four home-bred black Arabian broodmares and a thoroughbred mare who has produced some lovely AngloArab foals are in residence. Gemma has competed one of the broodmares, Cumbria Kalila, to gain AHS Premium Performance Scheme status under both dressage and endurance criteria as a six-year-old. In her second endurance season she won trophies for being the most successful horse in Scotland at 80km. All mares are foaled outside in large grassy paddocks, where they are kept as a herd. They also all winter out with no rugs despite being above the snowline. Foals are trained from day one using methods based on scientific evidence and quickly learn to lead from pressure, pick up feet etc, with weaning and further training following the same methods. Gemma is Veterinary Liaison Officer for the International Society for Equitation Science which trains vets, riding instructors and horse owners around the world on how horses learn, and runs a behaviour clinic from the Dick Vet. Contact Tom Walling and Gemma Pearson on 07870 869822 or 01750 21281 email@example.com www.overwhitlawfarm.co.uk/cumbriaarabians Cumbria Arabians, Over Whitlaw Farm, Selkirk, Scottish Borders TD7 4QN
Cumbria Arabians In 1996 this Cumbrian stud reloCated to Over Whitlaw Farm near Selkirk, which some readers may know from its previous role as home to the most successful racing stables in Scotland under trainer Bobby Fairburn. Founded by Fiona Walling, her son Tom and his partner Gemma (who is also a vet at the Dick Vet Equine Hospital) now carry on the tradition of breeding black Arabian and Anglo Arabians which have the ability to perform to a high level in Endurance or compete successfully in any discipline. For this they breed for calm temperament as Endurance horses have to be very calm to get low heart rates to ‘complete’ (pass the vetting), need to be happy to gallop along with 30 horses or to leave 100 horses at a venue to set off on a loop by themselves. They also need excellent conformation 50
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MY LIFE IN HORSES
In it for the long haul Hazel McCorkindale – chairperson of the Argyll Branch of the Scottish Endurance Riding Club (SERC) – shares her stories and thoughts on the joys of long-distance riding BY JULIA WELSTEAD IMAGE ANGUS BLACKBURN
I FELL INTO ENDURANCE RIDING in the early 1980’s when I was helping out with pony treks at Ardfern Riding Centre, which at the time was run by long-distance rider Lucia Boase with her Appaloosas imported from Argentina. She helped to found the Argyll Branch of Scottish Endurance in 1983, and I caught the bug. IN ARGYLL, most endurance routes are testing, but not fast, so I’m generally navigating a course through spectacular country with challenging hills, rough terrain and phenomenal views.
Image: Hazel McCorkindale in Scammadale Glen, overlooking Scammadale Loch, on Silva (THF Silvallyah)
I HAVE NEVER GONE OUT TO SPECIFICALLY LOOK FOR AN ENDURANCE HORSE of a particular breed or type. I started with a Welsh Cob cross who had done some previous pleasure rides, and then moved onto a Quarter Horse cross, but she didn’t enjoy it – you need a forward-going, keen and willing ride for long distances, and she wasn’t. A LOCAL FARMER’S WIFE loaned me her ﬁve-year-old Arab mare called Sefra, and I competed with her for many years (doing over 5,000 competitive kms and 12 competition seasons). She died last year aged 23. Meanwhile my daughter Shona also took to Endurance, riding a one-eyed Arab called Silva, who is now 21 and is still being competed by me. Both mares achieved their Gold Thistle Award for distance. WE BRED FROM BOTH, and now have an 11-year-old gelding called Sunny that Shona also competes and a Highland x Arab rising ﬁve gelding Rosco, who is very sure-footed and forward-going, so I’m excited about him. MY FAVOURITE TERRAIN is hill country. Yetholm and the Cheviots, the Border country around Biggar and of course my own surroundings in Argyll, with hill and forest, are all fantastic. We run a hill farm and I use the horses to check on our blackie sheep and Luing cattle, which is great for keeping them ﬁt. RIDING WITH SERC, the Scottish Endurance Riding Club, offers such a wonderful way to see different parts of the country, places you wouldn’t normally get to, with all routes organised and access cleared.
FOR ME, it’s not about being ahead of the pack, it’s about completing the miles, achieving one’s own goals, and passing the vetting. To complete is the achievement, rather than to win or lose – I think a lot of people like that aspect. We have a motto in SERC: ‘to finish is to win’. MY FAVOURITE MOMENTS in an endurance ride are threefold: enjoying a fantastic viewpoint; the thrill of finishing and the anticipation of passing the vetting; and finally that lovely moment when the vet gives you a nod and you can share a celebratory cuddle with your horse. There’s an amazing bond between you and your horse with all the long hours spent together training and competing in all weather. I HAVE BEEN PARTICULARLY INSPIRED by Lu (Lucia Boase) and Alison Craig, who atypically rode larger, heavier horses and always had loads of constructive advice for everybody. In 1987 Lu, Alison, Candy Cameron and Carol Bunting formed the Scottish Team in the unique Windsor to Paris ride, which particularly inspired me in the early days of my endurance career.
WE HAVE RIDERS FROM AS YOUNG AS EIGHT, to over eighty, including some ‘late starters’ who didn’t even learn to ride until later in life. I didn’t learn to ride until I was at university – I don’t have a pony club or jumping background so endurance riding suited me very well with lots of hacking. It’s very sociable, with lovely people. SERC have recently introduced ‘Taster Rides’ of 8-14km which are a great fun way to meet folk and have a go. BRITISH ENDURANCE HOLD A ‘HOME INTERNATIONAL’ between Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales. I’ve been on the Scottish team three times; my greatest personal achievement was completing the two-day 120km Red Dragon Ride in Wales in 2015 on my home bred horse Sunny. FOR MY NEXT TRICK I’d like to complete the second half of the ‘Cairngorm 100’ (not a SERC ride) in July. This is a linear ride through the most fantastic Scottish scenery of the Cairngorm National Park, from Glen Clova to Nethy Bridge. I did the first 50 miles of it on Sunny, and I want to do the second half on Silva.
e have a motto in SERC: ‘to finish is to win’ eqymagazine.com 2017
EVENTING – WILLS OAKDEN
‘When we jumped the double corners in the main arena to a huge cheer from the crowd, that was just a massive buzz’
Image: Jumping on Ballbreaker SD at his new state-of-the-art yard.
Willpower wins the day A former pupil of Olympic legend Ian Stark, Wills Oakden has proved himself to be made of champion stuff through tough times BY CAL FLYN IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN
Image- Jim Crichton
EVENTING – WILLS OAKDEN
ills Oakden is a force of nature. The 27-year-old eventer, originally from Cumbria, went straight from school at 16 to train with Olympic legend Ian Stark in the Borders, and has pursued his goals tirelessly from a base in Scotland ever since. He has the results to prove it: a team gold at the Young Rider European Championships at Blair Castle in 2011, winner of the CCI** at Burgie that same year, highest placed under-25 at Chatsworth CIC*** in 2014, and selection for the senior squad for the European Championships at Blair in 2015 when still aged only 25. The British Eventing website tells me he made 139 outings in 2014, 124 in 2015, 128 in 2016. ‘Every weekend we’re on the road,’ he explains. ‘From
the first weekend of March to the last weekend in October. It’s the adrenaline of it that keeps you going.’ It sounds exhausting. But at least he’s in good company: on the road with him is fiancé Stephanie O’Neill, a top young event rider in her own right (and former EQY cover star), with whom he set up home last year at a state-of-theart yard near Perth. Of course, by choosing to stay in Scotland they were committing to a lot of time in the horsebox, especially when competing at the higher levels, three-star and beyond, which mainly take place in the south of England. ‘We spoke to a lot of people in the world class programme, and asked: “Is it a performance limiter?” because you have to look at it like that,’ he said.
Above: Wills riding Gavin Drummond’s Mare Forever Mhor at the 2017 BE Forgandenny Horse trials. Right: At home near Methven in Perthshire with Tayvale Hunky-Dory.
â€˜We are on the road every weekend from March to October, adrenaline keeps us goingâ€™
CTION EVENTING – WILLS OAKDEN
‘Every obstacle is an opportunity for development, every setback a space for strategy’
Main image: Wills’ broken foot gave him the space to look afresh at his goals. Right: Wills competing at the European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle in 2015 on Greystone Midnight Melody.
about trying to get myself out there, it was all about winning. I didn’t mind ruffling a few feathers, going after horses and trying to make my way in the world, and it sort of rubbed people up the wrong way.’ For a while, he found it hard to settle in Scotland, and felt unwelcome. ‘In fact, for a period of time, it got too much for me. I didn’t want to be going to shows any more. I felt very much like an outsider and there was a group of people who thought that every move I made was wrong. It was a hard time, we’ll put it like that.’ He turned to mentor Ian Stark for advice and was convinced to stick it out. Now, he’s glad he did. Being selected for the senior squad for the European Championships was a turning point. ‘It gave me a massive boost. Until then, I never felt like I really fitted, but since then I definitely feel a lot more liked and a lot more welcomed.’ The event itself was ‘incredible’ he says. ‘When we jumped the double corners in the main arena to a huge cheer from the crowd, that was just a massive buzz. It got me through the last three or four minutes, and it gave the horse [Greystone Midnight Melody] a lift as well.’ A great experience for his first outing with the senior squad, and a great foundation for a long career. After his forced hiatus and stocktake in mid-2016, he thinks he should be in a strong position for 2017. ‘We’ve now got better four- and five-year-olds than I think we’ve ever had,’ he says. He and his aunt Frances Hay-Smith, a former event rider who placed seventh at Burghley in 1995, run a breeding programme – the products of which are denoted by the prefix ‘Tayvale’ – and they are ‘definitely on the right lines’ with that. As for the future, he won’t be drawn on specific ambitions. He’s learnt his lesson on that count. But he’s willing to share his overall strategy with me in depth. ‘Work hard, that’s the plan. It’s all I can do – put in the hard graft and hopefully reap rewards from there.’
Inset- MDR Photography
‘But the advice was that management, not travelling, is the performance limiter. And we were all set up in Scotland, we had the owners, both of us had businesses that were functional. Turning our backs on that didn’t make sense.’ So, a life on the road for the couple. ‘The only thing between here and there is miles. You’ve just got to cover them.’ They got engaged in 2016, and made the big move. But otherwise, says Wills, he’s had a bit of a rough time recently. ‘I went from having the best season I’d ever had, up until June, to the worst. I was up at 67% of rides being placed in the top ten, my highest number of wins up to that date, my highest points total. And then I fell off and broke my foot in two places.’ Frustrating as it was, it was an opportunity to take stock. ‘It gave me time to stop, and say, actually, where are we heading? I took a real good look at the whole string.’ For Wills, every obstacle is an opportunity for development, every setback a space for strategy. Still, he wouldn’t stay earthbound for long. ‘I told myself I would be walking on my foot within three weeks of breaking it, and the day three weeks was up I threw my crutches in the bin. I gave myself a week to be back riding, then made myself get back on.’ ‘I think it was four weeks between breaking it and competing again. The first weekend I went out, I took ten horses...’ – he pauses as I laugh incredulously – ‘but that was the way it had to be. It’s not just competing for the love of it, though of course that’s why I do it, but for me it’s a business too. I had to be back, had to be on. There are targets to reach, horses to produce, owners to look after. There’s no time to be lying around injured, crying about it.’ Wills’ honesty and willingness to wear his ambition on his sleeve is refreshing, although in the past it hasn’t always won him friends. When he first set off alone as an event rider, he struck resistance. ‘At that stage it was very much
HORSE HERO – JENNY LEGGATE
Main image: Jenny with Spotty and Chuck. Above: Eventing at Blenheim in the 1990’s on Maranello, bred and owned by Rae Grieve. Inset: Jenny in the middle of her five brothers, on Blossom, with parents.
JENNY LEGGATE’S FIRST PONY bucked her off every time she tried to canter, yet this inauspicious beginning is what led to her lifelong fascination with training horses. She offered to ride the naughty ponies, the ones nobody else wanted, and before long she was competing and hunting on borrowed horses. ‘I found out everything the hard way,’ says Jenny, ‘and there’s not one mistake I haven’t made.’ Jenny careered through pony club, and into a three-day eventing career which culminated in her becoming top Scottish rider at Blair Castle in the 1990’s. She even fitted in some point-to-point racing, but her heart lay in training horses and she was never interested in riding ‘ready made’. ‘I took my first steps in the breeding world and trained my own horses from the cradle to three-day event level,’ she says. Volunteering for the RDA Border Group, ‘mainly to make friends with kindred spirits’, Jenny took her formal RDA instructor qualifications and, in 1982, she was among the founders of the Berwickshire RDA group. Thanks to the Blue Peter 1987 ‘rags appeal’ the Border group received a vaulting roller. This was unpacked with some uncertainty, and quickly found its way to the back of the tack shed. ‘One day when the Lauderdale Pony Club kids were bored we discovered
vaulting,’ she laughs. ‘We put the roller on Dolly, a 13.2hh piebald cob, and they had such fun. My own son Benji described it as a big adrenaline rush.’ Trained by Jenny, the Lauderdale Vaulting Group were among the few small UK groups to get vaulting recognised and registered by the BHS. They also supplied six of the nine members of the GB Vaulting Team to attend the first ever World Equestrian Games in Stockholm 1990. Jenny realised that, with highly schooled vaulting and dressage horses, RDA participants could experience the same adrenaline rush her son had described. Taking another leap of imagination, Jenny started Equibuddy as a registered charity and part of RDA. ‘My vision was to help RDA groups to recruit and train coaches to buy and school horses to a level that safely offered an expanded riding experience to their participants, such as vaulting, show jumping, dressage and riding in open country. I wanted to set the riders free, to enable them to reach their desired equestrian level, with the advantage of highly trained horses.’ Ten years later Jenny’s Equibuddy work had achieved an amazing amount, encapsulated in one equibuddy participant’s thoughts while wading a river on an open country ride: ‘One small splash for Equibuddy horses; one giant leap for Equibuddy riders.’ In recent years Jenny has developed an Equibuddy App with equine physiotherapist Jo Paul, their aim being, ‘to give every horse a voice and harness his chat’. ‘The App encapsulates the toolkit I would love to have had, where I would have written about my ponies as a kid, had I been born into the smartphone era,’ explains Jenny. ‘It’s designed specifically for the equestrian community, and it’s all about the horse - the profile belongs to the horse. This way the horses are a constant while the owners, farriers, vets, physios, trainers, riders, friends can come and go.’ As a final thought, Jenny is keen to emphasise ‘what fun I have had and how many people I have met who helped me to stretch my wings, to whom I am truly grateful and owe it all. Such inspirational people around horses, especially youngsters and those with special needs. I love the challenge and variety.’
y vision was to help RDA groups to train coaches and horses. I wanted to set riders’ free’
A life less ordinary BY JULIA WELSTEAD IMAGE ANGUS BLACKBURN
‘This should have been a life-changing accident, one that would stop me walking, stop me working and, worst of all, stop me riding. I’m not sure I could have coped’
REAL LIFE RIDER
Back from the brink
A miracle cure saved Fifer Nikki Corstorphine after a horror fall which could have ruined her life BY RICHARD BATH IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN
ikki Corstorphine can still remember Tuesday 15 November 2016, the worst day of her life, like it was yesterday. What started out as a morning of huge promise ended up with a riding accident that could easily have killed her, and looked destined to leave her crippled, jobless and unable to ride ever again. One minute she was manoeuvring Little Troy, her workmate Jenny’s Friesian stallion, out of her work stables near Elie in Fife, the next she was waking up in Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy with such horriﬁc injuries that only a monster dose of morphine could dull the excruciating pain. ‘I’d just started riding the previous day because I’d had a hip replacement operation ten weeks before, so this was me just back in the saddle,’ she says. ‘I was just so excited about being able to ride pain-free after 18 months of being able to do just 15 minutes in the saddle that I just got carried away. Jenny had only had Troy a few months but didn’t really bond with him, so I agreed to test-drive him. I’d ridden him up and down the drive and he’d been ﬁne, but when I was taking him away from the other horses he was napping and suddenly took a bit of a tantrum. He lifted off all fours and bucked me off.’ As soon as she hit the ground Nikki knew it was a really bad fall. She’d never injured herself before, but desperate to protect her new hip she had twisted to her right side, falling awkwardly and feeling pain like she’d never felt before as the impact of the fall knocked all the breath out of her. The pain came from her dislocated shoulder, but her gaze fell upon
Image: Nikki at the stables near Elie with Billy, a ﬁveyear-old Friesian stallion that she backed herself.
WILLS CORSTORPHINE NIKKI OAKDEN
Nikki’s knee looking more normal following her IB surgery
Timeline of a remarkable recovery
Day 4 Day 1
Top- Jim Crichton
Nikki’s knee immediately after her accident – note the displaced kneecap. A scan shows the extensive damage caused to Nikki’s knee, where all the ligaments connecting her upper and lower leg were severed.
Day 5 Nikki’s walking with the aid of a physio the morning after her operation.
The kind of brace Nikki would have been in for at least 12 months following conventional surgery to fix her injured knee.
her leg, which was twisted at right angles from the knee down. She had ‘done the most stupid thing I’ve ever done’ and gone riding in wellies: when she was thrown, her foot got stuck in the stirrup and the impact broke all five tendons in her right knee. ‘Jenny and my boss were both here and I screamed, ‘you’ll have to ring an ambulance I’ve really hurt myself’. Jenny kept saying ‘it’s not that bad Nikki, don’t worry about it’, and I remember thinking ‘why is she lying to me?’ because I’d actually seen my leg and picked it up and moved it over. I knew it was really bad.’ Nikki’s injuries were so bad that the trauma team who attended in case her leg bone popped through the skin, which could have led to her bleeding out, tried to get her airlifted instead rushing her to the Vic by ambulance after giving her enough morphine to sedate a Clydesdale. Her only memory is of registering that her kneecap had gone walkabout and was on the inside of her knee, 90 degrees from where it should have been. The ambulance crew who cut off all her clothes later joked with her that she had said ‘oh it’s okay, I’ve got matching bra and pants on today’ before begging them not to cut her pigtails. At the Vic they put her under anaesthetic, popped her shoulder back in, put her kneecap back in its proper place and put her in a full leg cast. Although the pain was coming from her shoulder, she had a nagging feeling
‘I can’t tell you how many times I cried’
Main image: Prior to her accident Nikki was a keen competitor – seen here on her horse Holly at Gleneagles Hunter Trials. She is hoping that she will be back competing by the end of 2017.
Just four months after her major surgery Nikki sits on a horse again for the first time.
about the leg. She was right to worry. Her surgeon explained that there had been extensive damage to her leg. ‘He said I’d need to have a full external leg brace, tendon transplants, and that I’d definitely be off work for at least a year,’ said Nikki. ‘He said I’d probably walk with a limp and that I may never ride again. I was really upset because I’d been at my current job for two years and it’s purely about looking after horses – breaking them in and riding them. If I couldn’t ride I’d lose my job. ‘Lying there in the Vic, immobilised for three days in a full leg cast, I was so sore. They told me that all four ligaments were gone, and that there was only skin and blood vessels holding the top of my leg to the bottom. I couldn’t feel much of the leg or see much, but there was no talk of operating. They said that I’d be bed-bound for at least three months and that then they’d do the tendon transplants one at a time over several months, so that was half a dozen operations over a year with not a very pleasant outcome either. I was pretty upset because horses are my life – there’s a need in me to get back on a horse, it’s just a feeling I have inside me. To be told I probably wouldn’t ride again was a traumatic experience.’ Nikki was distraught. A year in pain and immobilised while she underwent a seemingly never-ending series of operations would be bearable if there were light at the end of the tunnel, but there was only darkness. She was told that her body might reject the replacement tendons, that even if it didn’t she’d have a limp and would be unlikely to ever ride again. She faced at least a year off. Numb and at a loss, she threw herself into planning. The first thing she needed to do was sort out what to do with her beloved showjumper Holly. ‘I can’t tell you how many times I cried before I eventually put a post up on Facebook saying that I’d have to put my show jumper of a lifetime out on loan because I couldn’t ride,’ she said. ‘But that’s when Heddy contacted me and said she thought she knew someone who might be able to help me.’ ‘Heddy’ is our commissioning editor Henrietta Forrest, who lives in Fife and 65
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saw Nikki’s plaintive post. She thought it was a long shot, but she knew a man who might just be able to help, so she got in touch and gave Nikki a number for Professor Gordon Mackay. It turned out to be an inspired hunch. A surgeon who specialises in working with toplevel athletes, Mackay has invented a procedure called the Internal Brace, with which he fixes damaged ligaments and tendons by pinning a polymer lattice – basically a tiny bungee cord – to the two bones either side of the joint. It holds the joint together and allows the tendons and ligaments to naturally grow back if the operation takes place quickly enough. It has helped Olympic athletes recover from major injuries in half the normal time, but Mackay had never done so many ligaments at one time – could he possibly do all five? A whole support team swung into action. Heddy contacted Mackay, Nikki’s partner Gordon arranged for a private ambulance to move her, and her ‘unbelievably kind’ employer Andrew Morris agreed to pay for the procedure. Mackay agreed to see her that day at his clinic in Stirling and within hours she was hearing words that she could hardly believe. ‘Gordon cut the cast off and said “I can fix this”,’ laughs Nikki. ‘He said that if I could get to Glasgow he’d operate the next morning. The accident happened on the Tuesday, I saw
‘It was a long shot but she knew a man who might be able to help’ Top: Nikki with colleague Jenny Crawford and puppy, Betty Spaghetti. Right: With surgeon Gordon Mackay who invented the Internal Brace – he replaced a ‘full house’ of ligaments: her MCL, ACL, PCL, LCL and MPFL, plus he repaired her PLC, post-oblique and lateral meniscus.
Gordon on Thursday, he operated on Friday morning and on Saturday morning I was walking around, even going up and down stairs. By Tuesday I was out of hospital. At my initial consultation Gordon said he could have me back at work within three months, which I didn’t for one minute believe, but he was right, I was back almost three months to the day – and it’s not like I was on light duties, I was working with big stallions.’ Six months on from her accident, Nikki now only goes for physio once a fortnight and is riding again. She’s even thinking about tackling Troy again. ‘I never stopped to think about whether this would work because the alternative was so bad,’ she says. ‘I’m now back on a horse and plan to be back show jumping by the end of this year. If I hadn’t found Gordon I’d still be flat on my back watching complete rubbish on daytime television in hospital. My life would have been over. He’s my hero.’
TOP 10 RIDING HOLIDAYS
Horseback holidays What better way is there to spend your holidays than with the one you love? Ladies and gentlemen, we give you ten of the best riding holidays in the world... BY JULIA WELSTEAD
â€˜Where in the world can you turn up with horses, dogs, kids, the whole caboodle, and find a warm welcome and plenty to do for everyone?â€™
Image: Magnificent riding surroundings at Lindores Cross Country, Fife.
Jump to your heart’s content in Fife WHERE IN THE WORLD can you pack up your horses and dogs as well as the kids and all the gear, and find a warm welcome for all in fabulous countryside with excellent facilities and a wide range of activities? In stunning central Scotland actually, at Lindores Cross Country in Fife, where Anna and Richard Black and their family have set out to provide the best of all worlds, with lovely accommodation for all – humans, canines and equines – and plenty to do for riders and nonriders alike. While the horsey among you are using the outdoor sand school, show jumping paddocks or, better still, jumping one of the most scenic cross country courses I’ve ever come across, with 125 British Eventing standard fences catering to all levels, your non-horsey family can enjoy other activities on the farm, such as shooting and stalking, photography, biking, fabulous walks or a soak in the hot tub. Nominated in the Equestrian Business of the Year 2017 category at the Horse Scotland awards, Anna and Richard are on a mission to make Lindores Cross Country and Lindores Lodge the nation’s best horse holiday destination. Costs vary according to horse numbers, group size, and activities/facilities used. Anna Black; Tel: 01337 840351 or 07736 044058 firstname.lastname@example.org www.lindoresxc.co.uk/horse-holidays/
TOP 10 RIDING HOLIDAYS
Tölt the wild lands of Iceland There is nothing in the world quite like trekking through the volcanic terrain, the wide valleys and majestic mountains of Iceland, and there’s no horse to match the Icelandics in their ability to negotiate it. In most riding situations, if the going gets too rough, we get off our horses and walk. In Iceland it’s the opposite: there are tracts of land that you definitely wouldn’t want to walk, over which these horses seem to be able to romp across without breaking sweat. These magnificent equines reign supreme in their homeland. Add to this the extra dimension of the fifth gait – the tölt – and you have a very interesting experience indeed. The Icelandic riding style is with a virtually straight leg, in wonderfully comfortable saddles, and the tölt is amazingly fast and smooth. To complete the picture, all rides set off with a herd of loose horses in front, or sometimes with one horse each to lead. At lunchtime tack is swapped onto a fresh horse for the rest of the day. Magnus and his crew at Hestasport are the most welcoming, friendly and helpful of people, full of character and warmth. They offer a variety of long riding tours (3 to 6 days) of varying difficulty and length, including an annual sheep round-up for those who like working with stock. An experienced local guide leads every ride. Accommodation is in a fairy ring of warm and homely chalets with the joy of a natural hot spring ‘tub’ in the middle, for all to share. Even on cold evenings, this is a joy to be in for a soak, either before or after the sumptuous offerings of food. One week all inclusive costs £2325. Contact Hestasport; Tel: (+354) 4538383 email@example.com www.riding.is
Cross the Andes Frontier Riding from Mendoza, Argentina, to Santiago de Chile across the Andes via a 4400m mountain pass is no mean feat, and offers a memorable adventure. This is an expedition in its truest sense, which can be undertaken on horse or on foot, in a manner that cleverly allows groups with different travel desires to all journey together. The high pass ‘Portillo Argentino’ is the gateway to an old trail used by gauchos, travellers and explorers (famously including Charles Darwin) to cross the Andes and descend into a valley inhabited by a still-vibrant ancestral culture of horsemen and mountain people. The six-day trip includes nights sleeping by the campfire in traditional ‘reales’ and to learn the skills of the arrieros (muleteers). Argentina Mountain have been guiding trips in the Uco Valley for 17 years and design customised expeditions based around each group’s needs. Trips run from December 20th to March 30th, guided by expert local gauchos. A private 4 person trip costs £1650 each. Nicolás García; Tel: +54 (9) 261 6588855 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com www.grajales.net/andes-trek-horse-guided
Navigate the Welsh hills and old drover routes Freerein ingeniously offers a bespoke trip whereby you get to choose your companions, your route and your start/finish dates, while Freerein do all the organising and bookings, provide route maps and detailed instructions, a helpline in case of need and, of course, fit, healthy and well-behaved horses. Choose between a twoand seven-day ride through beautiful Welsh country and enjoy the fun and challenge of navigating your route using a two-person system whereby one person reads the map, the other reads the detailed description. Located in the superb riding country of mid-Wales, where there is a network of hundreds of miles of tracks, you are well looked after in comfortable accommodation along the way. On the longest route around 100 miles of the Great Cambrian Horse trail network is covered, without any retracing of steps. You can go at your own pace, covering between 14 and 18 miles per day, while your luggage is transported to your next port of call. Enjoy the freedom with your own friends or family and fabulous hill, forest, valley and farmland routes. Price per person £347 (2 days) to £1327 (7 days). Matt Williams or Beth Hockenhull; Tel: 01497 821356 firstname.lastname@example.org; www.free-rein.co.uk
Plan it yourself, with a little help from the BHS Left: Hestasport Icelandics strut their stuff. Above: One of the Freerein routes that you can choose in Wales. Below Left: Crossing the Andes Frontier. Below right: A BHS Challenge ride in Chile.
If you fancy planning your own journey through any part of the UK, the BHS provides two very thoughtful services that will help you on your way. Started in the south of Scotland in 2006, the BHS ‘Horses Welcome’ is the UK’s first quality-assured scheme for equine bed and breakfast accommodation, which has now grown to include members all over the UK and Ireland. By using accommodation within the scheme, you can rest assured that it will be up to BHS standards for stabling, grazing and other facilities. The BHS also provide an online map of riding routes and trails throughout the UK, which is very useful to study for ideas and possibilities. You do need to check the current status of any route you choose and, as the site is maintained by volunteers, BHS are always happy to be updated with current information, from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. The BHS also organise fundraising challenge rides as far afield as Chile, Namibia and Peru. See website for details. www.bhs.org.uk www.bhsaccess.org.uk/ridemaps and also have a look at their “Map my Hack” site.
Main image: A high country ride across Australia’s Great Dividing Range. Below left: Riding the beaches near Seville in Spain on fabulous Andalusian horses. Below right: The wild Irish coastline of Clew Bay stretches as far as the eye can see.
Get Up Top Down Under Bogong Horseback Adventures run a programme of packhorse trips that will give you the quintessential Australian outback experience. Your steeds are home bred and trained Spring Spur Stock Horse Stud, high country Australian Stock Horses. These lively and agile horses are perfect for the terrain, and tacked up with traditional, supremely comfortable Aussie stock saddles. This is a family-run business of over 30 years, and the only traditional pack horse supported tour of its kind in Australia. These guys really know their stuff. After a day of riding in the stunning high country of Australia’s Great Dividing Range, you will be treated to a campfire supper and quite possibly some poems and yarns into the bargain. As well as shorter rides, Bogong Horseback Adventures offer a programme of packhorse-supported tours of up to nine days, during the Australian summer (ie: December to April). You can choose from a long weekend, to a natural horsemanship clinic and pack ride, to a full-on pioneer historical journey, including bush dance and festival. Riding country ranges from fertile farmlands to temperate rainforest to vast open plains and mountain passes, across a landscape dotted with old cattleman’s huts, bushranger hideouts, brumby traps and goldmines. This is the real Australia. One week costs from £1407. Lin Baird; Tel: (+61) 3 5754 4849; email@example.com; www.bogonghorse.com.au
Ride the Irish Wild West
Equestrian Escape to sunny Seville If you are seeking a holiday that caters to both riders and non-riders, with a bit of luxury and culture thrown in, this is a great option. Stay in the beautiful whitewashed village of Carmona with easy access to the stunning city of Seville. The first-class riding programme is a blend of rides and lessons rather than one long trail ride, with a visit to the Royal Riding School thrown in for good measure. The riding facilities are outstanding and those keener on the training programme can elect to have more lessons and less trail rides. There is a trip included, also open to non-riders, to Jerez to watch the performance of The Royal Riding school. Later in the week guests can join a trip into Seville to watch a fabulous Flamenco performance and enjoy dinner in a traditional Sevillana restaurant. Costs from £1195 for one week. Equestrian Escapes; Tel: 01829 781 123 or 07946 754 814 firstname.lastname@example.org www.equestrian-escapes.com/riding-holidays eqymagazine.com 2017
Clew Bay is an astonishingly beautiful ocean bay on the west coast of Ireland, strewn with tiny islands and with the dramatic rise of Clare Island at its mouth. To be able to explore this wild stretch of coast and hinterland on horseback is a rare delight. The Foy family have owned, bred, trained and competed with horses for over five decades, and in 1995 renowned horseman and Monty Roberts-certified instructor Padraic Foy established the Clew Bay Trail Ride, on which he leads small groups of experienced riders on a regular basis (from Sunday to Saturday, with five days of riding) between March and October. The various sections of the trail take you up old shepherd’s tracks, through peat hags and heather hills, across rivers and along endless sandy beaches. You will also pass through small villages, visit local heritage sites and stop for picnics along the way. The horses – Connemara Ponies, Irish Sport Horses, Irish Draughts or Irish Cobs – are all chosen for their stamina and good temperaments and, in an extra twist, you may even be able to buy your chosen horse if you are feeling inseparable by the end of the week. For families requiring non-horse activities, the Clew Bay area also offers a great selection of water sports, golf, cycling and hiking. One week costs from £1135. Padraic Foy Tel: 00 353 (0) 98 25616 email@example.com www.clewbaytrailride.com
CTION TOP 10 RIDING HOLIDAYS
Main image: Grizelda Cowan holidays with the French Riding Holiday team as often as she can. Below: Cumbrian Heavy Horses offer magnificent riding country on superb horses.
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Monter à cheval in the foothills of the Pyrenees
Feel the thrill of heavy horse power There is something awe-inspiring about being in the presence of a heavy horse, with their colourful coats, gentle eye, soft muzzles and aura of power and grace. At Cumbrian Heavy Horses you can multiply that wow factor to the tune of over twenty heavy horses and six different breeds: Clydesdales, Shires, Suffolk Punch, Percheron, Brabant and Ardennes. Being around these horses is an experience that certainly puts life in perspective, and when ridden, they are full of fun, speed, power and dexterity. The redoubtable Annie Rose, founder, owner, manager and source of pure energy with an enormous zest for life, takes rides whenever possible. Out in the yard, the enthusiastic staff are friendly, fun and helpful and there’s something very team-spirited about folk – staff and clients alike – who have chosen to ride these magnificent draught horses. Rides range from day trips or ‘Wild Weekends’ to the weeklong ‘Cumbrian Classic’. Explore the local fells, splash through the surf, explore the majestic uplands of the Lake District National Park or gallop the beach on these sure-footed, powerful, fast horses. One week, all inclusive, costs £1850. Annie Rose; Tel: 01229 777764 or 07769 588565 firstname.lastname@example.org www.cumbrianheavyhorses.com
Derek and Anne of French Riding Holidays are the loveliest of people, wonderfully warm and welcoming, and have horses of all types and sizes, suitable for everyone, from a nervous novice to an experienced eventer. The riding is in glorious countryside in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The picnic day rides are particularly popular – they bring tables, chairs, great food and loads of wine and beer and set up in a shady spot. The horses just graze nearby while the riders enjoy a leisurely lunch before a (usually quite fast) ride home. It is also a lovely holiday for non-riders, so couples can happily share the trip. The gite style accommodation is not luxurious but very comfortable. The food, a mixture of British and French with a nod to more exotic countries, is delicious. A fridge on the veranda holds all the beer and wine you could want – just help yourself. There is a lovely garden to relax in and a small swimming pool which is covered during the cooler months, so is always usable. ‘We have holidayed there four times, either in June or September, and once with a party of 10 from our local riding club,’ says EQy reader Grizelda Cowan. ‘It is the kind of place where it is equally comfortable to go on your own. Derek is very good at sussing out which horse might be best for you and everyone eats together – all very friendly. It really is a wonderful place.’ One week, all inclusive, costs £1090. Derek and Anne; Tel: 0033 565434569 or 0033 632769544 email@example.com www.frenchridingholidays.co.uk
eter Stunt is MUSTO’s ﬂagship outdoor retailer and their largest stockist of MUSTO Country & Equestrian technical & lifestyle clothing & accessories. Drawing on 50 years of British sporting heritage MUSTO bring you the highest quality technical outdoor clothing on the market. From equestrian clothing to footwear, their country lifestyle range to their technical shooting outﬁts, MUSTO provides the best of British for those who love life in the outdoors. The Peter Stunt name has been around horse trials for a long time, the business having been founded in 1988, the same year MUSTO began production of their iconic Snug Blouson jacket. And whilst the founder, Peter, may now have retired the business is committed to continuing to serve the Equestrian community. New owner Nick Daukes has long been a fan of the brand and knows a thing or two about the importance of being warm and dry outdoors. ‘My ﬁrst career was spent in the Royal Marines and therefore outside, exposed to the elements for long periods, but still needing to be able to function to a high standard. I wouldn’t be associated with MUSTO if I didn’t believe it provides the very highest standard of protection and functionality. Any old fool can be uncomfortable, but with MUSTO, there’s no need to be. They have a great range of products for the equestrian, as well as for the general countryside user, and I’m proud to be able to take the MUSTO @ Peter Stunt name and the business forward into a new era.’ MUSTO Country Collection has been granted a seal of approval from the Royal Family, with two Royal Warrants endorsing the quality of their outdoor apparel. MUSTO are continually innovating and developing the range, and work closely with their brand ambassadors including sporting legends Zara Tindall and William Fox-Pitt to do this. MUSTO combine timeless country style with elite technical performance to bring the best product to the rider. MUSTO test their clothing and equipment in some of the planet’s most demanding environments, so you can be sure that they’ll withstand anything the Great British weather can throw at them. Using the same technology and product testing regime as their ﬂagship 3-Layer System for the ocean
It must be Musto
environment, MUSTO have engineered EquiSynergy 3-Layer system for the rider, combining wicking base layers to keep your skin dry, mid-layer insulation for warmth and a durable outer layer for weather protection and comfort, ensuring you are able to perform in all conditions.
‘I wouldn’t be associated with MUSTO if I didn’t believe it provides the very highest standard of protection and functionality.’ Amongst the range of country sports clothing Peter Stunt are bringing to this year’s Scottish Game Fair will be the Highland GORE-TEX® Lite Jacket. The middle sibling of the Highland trilogy, the Highland GORE-TEX® Lite is the ideal jacket for those crisp autumn days in changeable weather. The cutting-edge GORE-TEX® technology in the drop liner makes this jacket fully waterproof and windproof, while also being lightweight and durable. Because it’s important to preserve and protect the integrity of our countryside, 5% of all proceeds go to the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. www.peterstunt.co.uk : MUSTO at Peter Stunt : mustoatpeterstunt : @peter_stunt eqymagazine.com 2017
You’ll ﬁnd Peter Stunt on Fishermen’s Row at the Scottish Game Fair and the Highland GORE-TEX® Lite will be there for you to show your support for GWCT. 75
Harnessing Nature’s Healing Energy
otanica International products are anti-septic, anti-histamine, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, made from natural herb ingredients, and non-toxic. They can be used on all animals, including us humans. As such they are versatile and handy products to have on any horse yard or farm. Made in Northern Ireland by Sean Cooney, the herbal range contains a combination of Aloe Vera, Tea Tree Oil, Comfrey and Oil of Lavender, all of which have proven beneﬁcial properties in keeping skin clean, promoting healing and repelling insects. For horses there’s a range of washes and creams that can also be used on other animals - dogs, cats, cows and even elephants! Sylvia Ormiston at Balmoral Highland Stud says, ‘We use Botanica Wash and add it to the water for washing the horses down
after work. It keeps their coats clean and bug free. We use the wash, cream and anti-itch products for people, dogs and horses. These are all brilliant products!’ For humans there’s a great range of skin care products including a cleanse-tone-moisturise system, bathing wash, body lotion, after-shave, make-up remover and deodorant as well as an anti-itch cream and lipsalve. Visit their website at www.botanica.ie to read some amazing case studies of horriﬁc wounds that have been successfully healed using Botanica products.
We should never underestimate the power of plants, and as an added bonus, they smell great too!
Equine Studies, Horse Care and Forgework Courses at Scotland’s Rural College SRUC offers Higher National (HND/HNC) courses and a range of National Certificate and vocational study opportunities at our campus locations across Scotland. Courses include:
• Certificate and
Advanced Certificate Horse Care
• NC Horse Care
• HNC/HND Equine Studies • SVQ/Modern Apprenticeship Horse Care • Certificate Forgework Visit: www.sruc.ac.uk/education www.sruc.ac.uk/study or callor uscall on us on Visit: 0800 runs Open Open Days Daysatateach each 0800 269 269 453. 453. SRUC SRUC runs of regularly––ﬁfind outmore moreatat of its its campuses campuses regularly nd out www.sruc.ac.uk/opendays www.sruc.ac.uk/opendays
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READERS AND THEIR HORSES
Two’s company We asked our readers to send in photos of them and their horses and once again were amazed at the huge response Above: Kisses for Maeve from Emily Smart of Newport on Tay.
Above: Mark Duncan meeting Joseph, his sponsored donkey, who lives at The Scottish Donkey Sanctuary in the Scottish Borders. Below left: Lucy Paton with her mum’s horse Thumper – they are from Aberdour in Fife. Below right: Fred Fulford-Smith from Beauly with Frog
Above: Rachel Rosscraig from Dundee with Deer, who is ﬁve and loves a selﬁe.
Above: Say Cheese! Sarah Dagg and Winston from Crailing in the Scottish Borders. Left: Left Corrine Finlay with her pony Jamie a Welsh Cobx Hackney, from Claverhouse Equestrian Centre in Dundee. Below: Faron McLellan from Inverness out hacking with friends Jennifer Smith (riding Luke on the left) and Samantha Finlayson (riding Frodo on the right).
Above: Abbie Ryce and cheeky Sonny Money, the happy appy from the Scottish Borders. eqymagazine.com 2017
DRESSAGE – JO BARRY
On a wing and a prayer After suffering a career-threatening head injury in an accident at home in 2015, dressage superstar Jo Barry has made a miraculous return to competition BY CAL FLYN IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN
here is a term used in the media when reporting on major incidents: ‘life-changing injury’. It is a phrase constructed to highlight the significance of an event, the scale of the damage, how it will come to define a person, how, thereafter, life will be delineated into ‘before’ and ‘after’. On 21st of December 2014, at around 11.30am, the dressage rider Jo Barry was schooling her handsome chestnut Corchapin at home in the outdoor arena. Corchapin (nicknamed Colin) was an honest and experienced eight-year-old, the then Scottish advanced medium champion. Everything was going as expected. Then – suddenly – it wasn’t. Jo herself has no memory of what happened next. The story has been pieced together from others. A pupil arrived for a lesson to find Jo prostrate on the ground, Colin wandering loose in the arena with sand on his knees. The girl’s mother, a nurse, was able to put her in the recovery position and reassure Jo’s own mother, Flora, while they waited for the ambulance. At first, she was emitting a strange, unsettling noise, which unnerved them – and then fell silent, which was worse. Rushed to hospital, Jo spent ten days in an induced coma. Though the
fall was clearly a serious one, doctors were optimistic: she had been wearing a helmet and had no obvious injuries. They anticipated a good recovery. Yet when Jo was brought round and her tubes removed it was clear she had been grievously injured. ‘I couldn’t walk. My speech was badly affected. My right side didn’t really work, and I had double vision,’ she recalls. MRI scans revealed that when she had fallen, landing on her head, the pons (the nerve-dense junction box between brain and spine) had been compressed and damaged. A whole catalogue of difficulties, in unpredictable combinations, are the result of such damage. Recovery would be slow and perhaps never truly complete. Just like that, Jo’s life had changed. ‘I realise now why horses accept box rest,’ Jo says. ‘It was just like: well, this is my routine now.’ With the support of a hospital physiotherapist, occupational therapist and speech therapist, Jo felt almost absurdly optimistic – only when she was released from hospital did she appreciate the true scale of her injuries. ‘The first time I cried was when I came home. Even walking down to the stables was hard work. I couldn’t lift
â€˜The first time I cried was when I came home. Even walking to the stables was hard workâ€™
Image: Jo at her yard at Kirknewton, outside Edinburgh. eqymagazine.com 2017
DRESSAGE – JO BARRY
‘The Jo that everyone knew was a world-class horsewoman and athlete’
Image- Equiscot Photography
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Left: With her beloved Capuchin (aka Colin). Above: Jo on Sugar Plum Fairy at the Regional Championships. Inset above: As a teen, Jo did a lot of showing - here on Roseisle Cyprus owned by the Comrie family.
up a rug or brush a horse. I realised then how far I was from the Jo that I knew.’ The Jo that everyone knew, was a world-class horsewoman and athlete. As a teen she showed at HOYS and Olympia, then focused on dressage. In the GB squad, she was top ranked young rider in the country by 1998. Talent-spotted by Carl Hester, she skipped university to train at his yard in Gloucestershire, where she worked her way up to head girl. After grooming at the Sydney Olympics (‘the cherry on top’) she left to concentrate on her own riding career in 2001, still aged only 23. Over the years she has amassed 14 British and 22 Scottish championship titles. On Vivaldi V (‘Freddie’), the horse that made her career, she regularly tussled with Carl and the famous Valegro over first and second places. She is renowned for her balance, her flawless style, her affinity with young and difficult horses, and most of all her extremely exacting standards.
For Jo, the loss of motor skills was the cruellest of all possible outcomes. As soon as she could, she was back on a horse at nearby Houston Farm Riding School. ‘But it was actually soul destroying how badly I rode,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t get my body to function. It was the ultimate torture knowing what I should be able to do. I felt I was in the ring watching, trying to teach myself: “Why is your leg doing that? Why is your arm doing that?” It was horrible.’ Intensive rehabilitation began afresh on her friend Judy Douglas Miller’s Cantos, Corchapin’s half brother: ‘an angel, and riding a dressage horse again was lovely. I felt his back moving, felt him voluntarily on the bit, all that.’ Strength returning, it was time to return to her own horses. Corchapin had been down south with Kate Cowell, under whose tutelage he had qualified for the Scottish championships in August 2015. ‘I wanted that goal,’ Jo recalls, ‘but I couldn’t quite commit to it.’ Having filled out the entry form, she left it in an envelope ready to post on a table for weeks. Finally, on the last possible day, she decided to go for it. ‘I thought, if there is a glimmer of hope
‘Riding a dressage horse again was lovely. I felt his back moving, I felt him on the bit, all that’
CTION DRESSAGE – JO BARRY
“ullquote to run in here and on and on and so on
Above: Even the most mundane tasks now bring a smile to Jo’s face. Below: Relaxing at Ormiston with Rosie.
‘Their victory was hailed as nothing short of miraculous’
that I can do this, then I know that Colin will look after me.’ The year before, she’d coached him through the step up to advanced medium. Now it was his turn to coach her. ‘We went to the regional and… we won!’ Their victory was hailed in the equestrian press as ‘nothing short of miraculous’. ‘It was amazing. He is amazing.’ She smiles fondly at the horse she co-owns with long-time benefactor Lady Mary Hope. ‘He was born on April Fool’s Day, he’s that kind of person, a clown. But he’s my best friend. For all that Freddie is…’ she pauses to think. ‘…my perfect partner, Colin is my best friend.’
Jo might never return to the Jo of ‘before’, for whom daily chores were automatic. Her injuries endure, albeit in attenuated form: she has slightly slurred speech and weakness in one side. She tires easily. These are challenges she faces daily. By the spring of 2016, their resumed rise seemed unstoppable: a remarkable 76.88% at Prix St. George level in January, three titles at the winter regional championships in February, then qualifying for the regional championships at both Prix St. George and Intermediate I. Then: disaster. Corchapin bruised his coffin bone, ‘clowning around’ in the field. ‘It takes forever to heal, and it’s very rare,’ says Jo, resignedly, ‘so this has knocked him out of the World Class Pathway.’ Then Vivaldi, only just back in work after long-term injury, went lame once more. As a result, Jo’s focus has shifted to two younger horses: Hidalgo (half-brother to Vivaldi, who scored 75% at his first outing, at novice gold freestyle) and Reay Campbell’s sixyear-old Sugar Plum Fairy, a talented, doe-eyed mare who has gone from strength to strength. Crowned Novice Gold and Novice Freestyle Scottish champion in 2016 (and more recently recording a whopping 82.83% at Novice Gold level), ‘Plum’ scored over 75% in her first elementary tests and placed third in the novice freestyle at the nationals in April this year. Meanwhile, Corchapin is finally back in work. To have suffered such catastrophic injury and returned to the top of her game is testament to Jo Barry’s enormous natural talent and extraordinary work ethic. One can only hope that her ascent to the very top will be as smooth and speedy as she deserves from here on in.
As an animal lover, it can often be difficult to know how to help animals in need. The British Horse Society (BHS) has a membership option, with money raised going to help horses in need.
The Helping Horses membership helps to fund an army of 200 welfare officers who respond to thousands of requests each year. The membership is not open to just riders and owners, but to anyone who is passionate about improving the lives of horses in Scotland and the rest of the UK. The welfare officers help horses in many ways, from directly intervening when horses have been deliberately harmed, to educating and supporting owners so they can better look after their animals. Quite often, most welfare cases are caused by the owner’s lack of knowledge or understanding. The role of the welfare officers is to help the owners change their ways, and to improve the lives of their animals, while protecting horses from being in pain. Having said that, there are some occasions where horses have been treated in a shocking way, and in these situations the BHS welfare officers help to find a new home for them. It was a BHS welfare officer who found Patrick abandoned at the side of the road. He was only a few hours old – and had been taken away from his mum and left to die. Patrick was a victim of irresponsible breeding, and the breeders had left him to die because he was not worth as much as a female horse. Thankfully, someone spotted Patrick at the side of the road and reported him to the BHS and RSPCA. Patrick ended up living with a BHS welfare officer who put her life on hold look after him. As he was so young he was unable to look after himself and had to be fed every two hours from a bottle – day and night. Thankfully, four years on and Patrick has made a full recovery he is receiving the best care and spending time with other horses. However, without the help of the BHS, Patrick’s story might have ended very differently. The Helping Horses membership can ensure that more horses like Patrick, are saved. The BHS wants to increase its number of welfare officers so it can help more horses, however it is going to need more members to achieve this. The membership costs just £24 for the whole year. The British Horse Society also has a Gold membership option which is perfect for the regular rider or horse owners. It includes insurance*, a legal helpline^, exclusive benefits and British Horse magazine delivered straight to your door, for just £67 for 12 months.
For more information visit www.bhs.org.uk The British Horse Society is a Registered Charity Nos. 210504 and SC038516 * terms, conditions and territorial limits apply, full details on website The BHS is an Appointed Representative of South Essex Insurance Brokers Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority ^Limited to 30 minutes per issue
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HORSE HERO – EMILY SUTHERLAND
Main image: Emily Sutherland with her horse Grace. Above: Emily enjoying Pony Club mounted games as a young rider.
THERE’S A CALM CONFIDENCE TO EMILY SUTHERLAND that underscores her bubbly welcome and belies her youth. ‘I’m 19 now so I’ve been in the Pony Club for about 16 years, I started as a tiny toot on a little pony.’ At the time, Emily’s mum, Kerry Sutherland, was chief instructor of the Aberdeenshire Pony Club and it was only natural that Emily should get involved. The level of commitment though, was entirely Emily’s. ‘I started out at the PC and through the years I’ve just stuck at it,’ she says somewhat modestly considering her achievements. A few years ago Grace came into her life. ‘Grace is a bit of a miracle story really,’ says Emily. ‘She was a very immature ﬁve-year-old, not fully grown and a little bit crazy, but Mum saw something in her and slowly they built a relationship. I didn’t enjoy riding her at all, I found her really difﬁcult, but as I got older and she matured too, we just started to really click.’ In a huge turnaround from the ‘crazy’ horse, Grace and Emily went on to form an impressive dressage partnership. Three years ago they were in the Aberdeenshire team at the Pony Club Championships and last year they went as individuals. Then, at the beginning of last year, Emily and Grace were selected for
the Scottish BYRD (British Young Riders Dressage Scheme) squad. ‘It was a massive trip last summer: we had three days at the PC Champs, doing the intermediate dressage to music, at Cholmondeley Castle in Cheshire, and we were sixth in both our classes – Grace was amazing. Then we travelled about four hours east to Sheepgate Equestrian in Lincoln, for a week of competing for the BYRDS team.’ Emily continues to be totally committed to Aberdeenshire Pony Club who have taught her and supported her so well, paying her stabling costs while she was competing down south last summer. ‘We have quite a young club, so I started coaching the younger ones,’ she says. ‘I’m studying sport coaching and PE teaching at college and I’m doing my coaching development pathway for horses. ‘I love teaching. I look at the youngsters all lined up and I recognise myself in there – I was like that. I devise games for them to make it fun and, because I’ve so recently been through it all myself and have been so well taught through Pony Club, I ﬁnd it easy to get things across to them. The ponies and kids are all absolutely fantastic, and it’s really helped open up the idea of a coaching career for me.’ The Aberdeenshire Pony Club are lucky to have been able to use Dunecht Estate facilities since the club was established in 1931, using Laundry House (which is fondly known as Pony Club House), on the estate for all those years, while the ponies stay over in the pens and Pony Club Field. The estate is a wonderful setting for local Pony Club competitions, and Hunter Pace, which is extremely popular. ‘We are together with our horses day and night, and the bond that you build is amazing,’ she says. ‘The same goes for the people that you mingle with, they become friends for life. Two years ago we invited the Western Isles Pony Club to join us on camp, and that was lovely. ‘I’d recommend PC to anyone. For me, it was everything, and gave me all the knowledge that I have about horses, not just the riding but the care and management. A sport that you love keeps you on the straight and narrow as well, as you haven’t got time to do anything else. It’s a commitment, but for me it’s been 100% worth it, I still absolutely love it.’
would recommend Pony Club to anyone. For me it was everything. I still absolutely love it’
From pupil to teacher BY JULIA WELSTEAD IMAGE ANGUS BLACKBURN
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STARS OF THE FUTURE
Ones to watch
Each year we take a look at some of Scotland’s promising equestrian youngsters to see how the next generation is coming on – very nicely is the answer... BY MELANIE SCOTT
e have such a strong equestrian heritage and tradition here in Scotland that we are bound to produce some good riders, but the current range and number of talented up-and-coming equestrian athletes is particularly exciting. To help them on their way there are various bodies and funding resources to be found. Horse Scotland, our national organisation for all equestrian sports and activity in Scotland, provides advice, coaching and funding and has performance squads and development squads in a range of disciplines. This year EQY takes a look at who’s getting noticed in disciplines as diverse as dressage and polocrosse, pentathlon and driving, including racing, show jumping and eventing. With their winning mix of talent, focus, determination and sheer hard work, these are among the athletes to watch, our future stars in the making.
Above: Matilda Hayley at the 2017 Winter Regionals. Right: Charlotte Dun on Whisperdale at Balcormo Point-toPoint 2017. Inset right: Charlotte being congratulated after her very first win on Rolecarr, a horse bought for her by her late father, Michael Dun.
Matilda Haley Dressage Matilda Haley (16) competes Watch Me! at medium dressage and is based near Huntly in Aberdeenshire. Matilda is a horsescotland development rider and trains with Eilidh Grant and Cathy Burrell. The duo had a successful first year together in 2016, qualifying for the British Dressage Winter Championships medium freestyle, followed up with a trip to the Pony Club Dengie Winter Championships. Representing the Deeside branch, they won the open section and also the medium freestyle to music. In August at the Pony Club National Championships they won the open freestyle dressage to music and finished runner-up in the elite dressage. At the Sheepgate Under 25 Championships they won the summer elementary, freestyle to music and came second in the medium. This year Matilda and the Gribaldi 14-year-old were selected to join the BYRDS High Performance Camp. They have now moved up to advanced medium, and are aiming for GB junior selection.
‘Matilda and Watch Me! have been selected to attend the BYRDS high performance camp’
Charlotte Dun (21) from Heriot in Midlothian was brought up on the family farm and had a busy childhood with the Lauderdale branch of the Pony Club, representing the club at the Pony Club interbranch competitions and Championships. She evented to BE100 under-18 level and enjoyed working hunter success, however more recently Charlotte has enjoyed a career between flags riding at point-to-points with several wins to her name. Last year she won at the Jedforest at Friars Haugh and that course gave her a double taste of success in 2015 with Rolecarr and Farm Pixie both first past the post. She rides out at Nick Alexander’s Kinneston yard in Fife most Saturday mornings and has thanked Nick for allowing her the opportunity to ride the experienced Rossini’s Dancer, winning a hotly contested ladies open at the Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire at Overton. More recently she won the ladies open with Whisperdale, which belongs to retired auctioneer Jack Clark. And all this is whilst juggling student studies and work. eqymagazine.com 2017
Top left - EquiScot photography, centre right Frank Cornfield, Inset left - Penny Pictures
Charlotte Dun, Racing
STARS OF THE FUTURE
‘I’m very lucky to have an amazing owner for whom I compete two horses’
Above - Jim Crichton
Eventing Morven Pringle (22) from Moffat, a member of the horsescotland development squad, has three horses to compete this year. A full-time rider, she has produced her top horse, Dunbog Gypsy Rose, from a five-year-old BE100 to advanced level, winning at intermediate at Aske, placed at CIC2* and competed at the Young Rider Championships in 2015. ‘Our aim for this season is to compete at CIC3*. I’m also very lucky to have an amazing owner, Richard Munro, for whom I compete two horses. Goodbye to Money jumped clear round the CIC1* at Blair. He has stepped up to intermediate this year and will be aimed at CIC2* by the end of the season,’ said Morven. Richard’s other horse, Don’t Say Goodbye, was originally a showjumper and has had some good placings at BE100 and novice level. Morven will be aiming him at 1*/intermediate towards the end of the year.
Finlay McCrae Para-Driving Finlay McCrae (14) competes in the indoor horse driving trials and won the south of Scotland indoor championship points title for the 2015/2016 season with Watson. At the national indoor championships held at Keysoe in Bedfordshire, he was placed fourth in the intermediate juniors. The Langholm Academy pupil has been driving for five years now through the charity Sports Driving Unlimited and was inspired to drive by the late Amanda Saville. ‘Finlay has a severe and significant cerebral visual impairment which means his brain doesn’t receive all the visual information from his eyes, as well as having Aspergers, which makes all his achievements even more remarkable,’ said his mum Fiona King. ‘His aims are to progress to driving a four wheeler and to continue to improve his competitive driving with the support of his coach Louise Kaiholm. Driving is his big passion in life and he’s looking forward to the rest of his journey.’
Hamish and Ruaridh Gillanders, Polocrosse
Hamish (19) and Ruaridh (18) from Over Dalkeith Stables near Kinross have both played polocrosse for six years. Hamish was recently selected as the only Scottish member of British under-21 squad and this season is playing for Kent Target as he is spending the summer working for horse trainer and international polocrosse player Jason Webb. Ruaridh represented Britain as a member of the British under-16 team against Zambia and was also selected to travel to Australia to represent Britain in the Australian Classic tournament. This year he is a member of Rugby Polocrosse club and has been playing in their B grade team. At the Pony Club Championships the brothers enjoyed victory at mini and junior level. The brothers finally achieved the hat-trick by winning the open tournament last year with third member Hannah Drew. Their ambition is also to play for Great Britain in a World Cup team.
Below right - Jim Crichton,
Left Morven Pringle competing at Forgendenny. Above: The Scottish Polocrosse team. Below right: Melissa McLuskey at Ayr Show 2017 riding Burfordly Sea Lord, who stood champion at Ayr. Below: Finlay McCrae enjoying his trophy win.
Melissa McLuskey, Showing
Melissa McCluskey (21) has an enviable track record with her show hunter pony Burfordly Sea Lord, with a supreme title at Ayr and numerous championships around the country, including winning the Royal Highland Show several times and each year qualifying for HOYS, where they were placed fifth, and the RIHS. However, as the Edinburgh Napier University student is now out of the 153cms class she has a new ride to take her into the senior ranks this year, Mount Stephen Hidden Gem, who will contest intermediate show hunter classes and intermediate show riding type and hack classes. Hidden Gem has already stood champion at the BSPS Scotland Winter Show at SNEC and after university exams are finished will be aimed at RIHS and HOYS qualifiers. They will be home produced from the familyâ€™s farm in Midlothian with mum Joyce at the helm. eqymagazine.com 2017
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Louise Kaiholm Driving
Top: Louise Kaiholm, who moved to Lockerbie from her native Denmark to work with horses, with her driving pair. Right: Lucinda Stewart has been riding her whole life.
Lucinda Stewart, Show jumping
Lucinda Stewart (23) has been riding all her life, joined British Showjumping when she was seven-years-old, jumped on Scottish pony teams and qualified for Hickstead and HOYS. ‘I’m lucky to have some special horses on my team and am achieving all my goals and dreams with them,’ she said. ‘I’ve had Cancun for 18 months and produced him to 1.30m level. I’ve had Con for seven years now and he‘s won everything there is to win for me at amateur level (up to 1.25m). Cascara is my seven-year-old that I’ve had for three years and has qualified for the B&C at the Royal Highland Show. I’ve had Glow for five years and produced to 1.30m level. ‘Recent results are winning the amateur grand prix, and the small and large amateur tour at Le Mans, and Dinard, in France. By the end of the year I’d like to have jumped some 1.40m tracks.’ eqymagazine.com 2017
Top - Liza Pern, Below - EquiScot Photography
Louise Kaiholm is based at the Chariots of Fire Carriage Driving Centre near Lockerbie and moved from her native Denmark several years ago to improve her English and work with horses. She has a pair of Dartmoor ponies – Icarus and Sinatra – and after being reserve national champions in 2015 they were unbeaten in 2016, winning the British Carriage Driving National Open Pony Pairs title at Cirencester. ‘They are 11 and 13-years-old and have been driving together for six years. Last year at the National Championship they were the fastest pair competing and only beaten on the marathon by three single ponies,’ explained Louise. Already this year Louise has been reserve in the national indoor tandem pony championships and will compete the pair in the advanced pairs class. ‘The late Amanda Saville helped me a lot and now at the centre we continue her good work,’ added Louise, who coaches carriage driving.
STARS OF THE FUTURE
‘Modern pentathlon includes riding, shooting, swimming, running and fencing’
Olivia Burns Modern Pentathlon Olivia Burns (15) is a talented all-rounder, which is vital to succeed in the world of penathlon where showjumping a strange horse, shooting, swimming, running and fencing are all judged equally. Olivia’s list of wins is impressive – she won the girls under-16 group at the British Pentahlon Championships, is the Scottish Schools under 17 epee fencing champion, and is part of the Scottish pentathlon development squad. She rides All Rosie, a nine-year-old mare that’s showjumping bred (Allround x Ludwig) and her grand dam Rosie’s Double competed at CCI2*. Olivia is a member of the Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire Pony Club and has previously qualified All Rosie for the Pony Club championships at tetrathlon and eventing. This year she qualified for the Badminton Mitsubushi Motors Grassroots BE90 Championships and has been selected to compete at Windsor Horse Show as part of the Scottish tetrathlon team. Top: Fifteen-year-old Olivia Burns is a talented all-rounder. Right: Robyn Jones started competing in endurance events on her New Forest Pony.
Robyn Jones shows that endurance can be undertaken by any breed of horse or pony. She first started six years ago with her Pony Club all-rounder pony Pippa. The New Forest pony was diagnosed with spavins and the vet suggested continuing to ride but only in straight lines, so they started off undertaking pleasure rides before working up through the grades. In 2015 the combination completed a one-day 80km ride at Seacliffe before being selected the following year for the Home International and Celtic Challenge at Downpatrick Racecourse in Northern Ireland. In Ireland they completed a challenging two-day 80km and were part of the winning Scotland team. ‘I enjoy the feeling of freedom and being out with my horse, it’s an adventure,’ explains Robyn, a third year Aberdeen University sports science student. This year Robyn (21) is looking to introduce her young horse Willow, a five-year-old endurance-bred chestnut mare Arab, to the world of endurance.
Top - Grossick Photography, Below - Top Gear Photos.com & Tannasg Arabians
Robyn Jones, Endurance
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I Above: The Westmoreland and Cumberland Yeomanry. Top right: Gordon Harley and his horse ﬂank the newly erected tombstone at Rumgally Farm near Cupar c.1916. Right: The original tombstone erected in honour of the cavalry horses at the grave of their bits, spurs and horseshoes.
n 1996 Gordon Harley bought Rumgally Farm from Aubin and Jackie Roger. Aubin’s father and wife, John and Doris Roger, stayed on in the farm cottage, and over the following 18 years, until John died, the neighbours spoke many times of the troops stationed at Rumgally during World War I. ‘John told me they were a mounted cavalry unit from the North of England, the Westmoreland and Cumberland Yeomanry,’ says Gordon. ‘The farm was full of horses, and the ﬁelds around the steading still carry the names: Canteen, Stable and Horse Park.’ In June 1916 manpower shortages at the front led to all but 12 British mounted regiments converting to cyclists or re-training as infantry. The Rumgally boys ceased to be a cavalry troop, and one very sad day their horses were taken away. This was an absolute hammer blow to the men and to mark their loss they buried their spurs and wrote a poem. ‘Rumgally has never been without
horses,’ says Gordon ‘from the days of working heavy horses, to the Roger family horses: John was Master of Fife Foxhounds and an international carriage driver. As he eased into retirement, I got involved with horses through my daughters’ pony club.’ In late 2014, at John’s funeral, Gordon met his sister, Mrs Neison of Gauldry, who offered him some old newspaper clippings relating to a tombstone erected at Rumgally by the yeomanry to mark the day the unit lost their horses. She noted that in 2016 it would be 100 years since the stone – later removed to be displayed in a museum – was erected. ‘I realised that I knew quite a lot about the yeomanry who were here between 1914-16, but I still didn’t know what the tombstone or the men looked like. My interest was piqued, and I decided to delve a little deeper.’ Gordon tracked down memorabilia online, and for a few pounds bought: a hat badge showing their crest; a postcard picturing the men and their
War horses When Gordon Harley discovered the story of the WWI yeomanry and their lost horses, he decided to commemorate the centenary and honour their memory BY JULIA WELSTEAD
As we ride around the farm, I'm aware I am in someone else's shadow horses, with the legend ‘Cupar Studios Ltd, South Bridge, Cupar, Fife’; a postcard of troopers in Rumgally farmyard, cutting each other’s hair with horse clippers; and a picture of the original tombstone, photographed at Rumgally. ‘This last image gave me goose bumps’ says Gordon. No wonder, for the words reveal the yeomanry’s pain and anger at the loss of their horses: ‘Stranger, pause and shed a tear A regiment’s heart lies buried here Sickened and died through no disorder But broken by a staggering order Our hearts were warm, their’s cold as icicles To take our horses and give us bicycles For cavalry, they said, there was no room So we buried our spurs in this blasted tomb – The Ordnance Gave, The Ordnance Hath Taken Away’ By mid-2015 Gordon had decided to commemorate the centenary of the men losing their horses by having a new stone made and erected. ‘I felt the men would have wanted a stone to have remained on the farm, and I did too,’ he said. He had the stone carved to show spurs, the hat badge crest and the poem, as on the original. ‘I’ve been riding here for 11 years on four different horses, and as we ride around the farm I am aware I’m in someone else’s shadow,’ eqymagazine.com 2017
SADDLER ERLEND MILNE
The science of saddles
If you blend an in-depth knowledge of engineering, science and design, an eye for beauty and functionality, plus decades working with horses, then you end up with celebrated saddler Erlend Milne BY JULIA WELSTEAD IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN
W Right: Erlend’s treasure trove of saddles. Below: Erlend travels far and wide to saddle fit, but prefers clients and their horses to come to him if possible.
hen I walk into Erlend Milne’s workshop in Roslin, the smell of well-worked leather takes me back fifteen years, to his Auchterarder shop and farm where he showed me around a veritable treasure trove of saddles and fitted my Clydesdale with the most beautiful and comfortable saddle I have ever encountered. Today he explains all the stitching machines and workbenches: each for a specific stage and task in the complex art of working leather. Some machines look ancient, others brand new. ‘I’m a traditional saddler who isn’t afraid to use new technology,’ explains Erlend. ‘I don’t believe in the throw away culture, and my ethos is that
something made well, looked after and repaired well, will last a lifetime. I love to see well-made products, especially leather ones, ageing gracefully and developing their own patina, telling their own unique stories and being passed on down the generations.’ Over a coffee at Erlend’s stunning trestle-desk I ask how it all began. ‘I started life in a caravan on the site where the new Edinburgh Royal Infirmary now stands,’ he laughs, ‘and grew up in a small village on the edge of Edinburgh. At Knox Academy in Haddington I studied graphic design, physics and engineering, subsequently completing an apprenticeship as a blacksmith and general engineer, and then went to art college to study architectural blacksmithing.’ However, Erlend was actually working as a milkman when Nimrod Saddlers in Perth came up for sale and, ‘with the risk mentality of a 22-yearold,’ he says with a wry grin, ‘I threw caution to the wind and bought it.’ What Erlend found he had bought was a top-quality traditional saddlery with two skilled saddlers who made beautiful things. But he quickly realised that saddles were fitted more to people than to horses. ‘From riding my own horse I knew
Image: Cap to run in here
‘I’m a traditional saddler who isn’t afraid to use new technology’
SADDLER ERLEND MILNE
that saddles tended to be fitted to the rider, and I felt it should be about both horse and rider,’ he says. Nimrod was part of the Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) and they were so keen for Erlend to do a formal saddlery training that they developed a course, from which he became one of the first people to qualify. ‘But I quickly found that experience counted more than qualifications, and dealing with a broad section of horse breeds and owners continually improved my skill base, taking new ideas, materials and technology from all corners of the world,’ he explains. ‘I have embraced science and innovation coming into a very traditional industry. For me it’s all about improving the function of the saddle for horse and rider, by improving our understanding of what makes a saddle fit well. It’s an ongoing process and I’m always learning.’ Then, as now (twenty years on), Erlend works closely with owners, horse trainers, vets, physiotherapists and, of course, the horses themselves to get the right product
and fit that will remain comfortable over many years. ‘There are saddle sellers and saddle fitters,’ explains Erlend, ‘and I’m a fitter. Of course I sell too, but my priority is to the horse, and saddle fitting is a process that may take time as horses change shape. ‘A young horse with growing to do, for instance, or a performance horse coming into fitness for the season, or an injured horse being brought back into work – I want to work with every individual situation, over time, which may mean lending the client one saddle through the transitional stages, or using special padding until the horse’s shape is established.’ One client had tried many saddles in an effort to keep her horse comfortable as he aged, and eventually sought Erlend’s advice. He could see that the horse’s shape was changing because of the saddles – not because of age – which were exacerbating the deterioration of his top line. By fitting in a positive way, with room to be the shape he should be, Erlend allowed the horse to regain and maintain great muscle condition. ‘Erlend fits very differently,’ points out an industry professional who has worked with Erlend. ‘He looks at a horse’s back as one would the contours of a hill, maps it, takes into account physiology, conformation, any old injuries and the projected use of that horse. He then uses his vast knowledge of every element of a saddle to picture the best fit in his mind’s eye. He effectively mirrors the shape of the saddle to the shape of the horse.’ Erlend is much sought-after for saddle fittings. ‘It’s always better if people bring their horses to me, rather than
‘I love working with other artisans and design-makers’
me going to them,’ he emphasises (he has places at West Linton and Auchterarder), ‘as then I have all my equipment and a huge number of saddles to hand, and I can be saddle fitting rather than travelling.’ Over the decades, saddles haven’t been the only focus of Erlend’s design and engineering brain. He has become involved in many projects, including such diverse surprises as a towing harness for a lorry breakdown company, a clip and release system for a model’s outfit at the London Fashion Design Week, USA police body armour, a bagpipe case, satellite tracking harnesses for large animals like bears, elk and cattle, and specialist leather screenprinting for a project linked to the Kelpies in Falkirk.
Top left: Erlend fits a saddle for Hannah Stenhouse and her show jumper. Top right: At work in the workshop. Above: To ensure that the saddle fits both horse and rider, Erlend spends time watching them ride. Below left: Always an innovator, Erlend adopted the use of air-filled saddles for the horses’ comfort. Erlend Milne www.thesaddle specialist.com 07970 262343
Erlend continues to be sought out by forward thinking individuals and companies who want to develop innovative equestrian and non-equestrian products, always working to push barriers with cutting-edge materials and design. Sitting in his office I find myself surrounded by prototypes of things he is working on: chairs, bags, purses, sports bags and laptop covers. I also spot a clear glass mount within which some words are etched: ‘Will I be making good products with good people?’ ‘That’s my question to myself that I refer to whenever a new job is under discussion,’ says Erlend. ‘It helps me to focus on what really matters for me. I love working with other artisans, designer-makers, or just someone passionate about doing something different. ‘What I marry is design and manufacture, and I can’t resist a challenge and the chance to help someone solve something. Close friends call me Winston Wolf (the Pulp Fiction character) because I have a determination and a ‘never give up’ attitude to solving problems. My father is a great communicator and my mother has an uncanny talent for getting to the root of life’s problems: some of this has rubbed off on me and helped make me who I am today.’ Despite these other ventures, Erlend’s love of horses means he feels he is first and foremost a saddler. ‘I have worked with many fantastic customers over the last 20 years,’ he says, ‘from people who enjoy just having a horse to keen amateurs developing great relationships with their horses, to helping professional riders solve a difficult problem, to seeing young jockeys develop through the ranks from ponies to horses, achieving great success on all levels.’ ‘I love to feel that I have helped in some way and everyone is the better for it. “Work with me and I’ll work with you” is all I ask.’
Win An Albion KB Bridle worth ÂŁ213
The Saddle Specialist Erlend Milne has 20 years experience as a dedicated & passionate saddle fitter. Are you concerned about your current saddle?
email@example.com 07970 262 343 The Saddle Specialist.indd 2 102_eq17.indd 102
www.thesaddlespecialist.com www.makinggoodproducts.com 15/05/2017 10:19:00 17/05/2017 08:26:01
Pulling Power The best vehicles for towing
Ready to Rok
More power and more torque boost the new Volkswagen Amarok’s towing prowess. The beating heart of the new Amarok is a 3.0 litre V6 TDI engine, making it the only six- cylinder model in the pick-up segment. At the top of the range sits a version of this 3.0 litre V6 that delivers 224PS and 550 NM of torque, while all models come with ESP (electronic stability programme) as standard. This package includes a trailer stabilisation system that uses the vehicle’s anti- skid and ABS brake systems to maintain control should your tow start to wander. Inside the impressive cab, the new dash panel incorporates Volkswagen’s infotainment system with touchscreen, Bluetooth and digital radio as standard features. For more information, visit www.volkswagenvans.co.uk.
The All-New Discovery is ideally equipped to cope with the demands of towing – retaining its predecessors impressive 3,500kg capacity while introducing new features which make the process of hitching and unhitching your horsebox safer and quicker. You can adjust its air suspension and rear-end ride height with the flick of a switch to make hitching easier and an electric deployable tow bar prevents you from getting your hands dirty when connecting. Optional Nose Load Measurement lets you know the weight of the trailer before setting off, helping you to avoid vehicle damage. Find out more at Pentland Land Rover. www.pentlandlandrover.co.uk Image includes optional equipment and accessories that do not reﬂect current UK speciﬁcation or are available at extra cost.
The BMW X5
With its dynamic, upright proportions, the third-generation BMW X5 is instantly recognisable as part of the BMW X range. But it also has several new design features that further underscore its majestic appearance and unbeatable versatility. A key element in the optimised design is the focus on aerodynamics. Thanks to eye-catching features in the front end, at the rear and on the sides, form and function are combined perfectly. Large air inlets, the Aero Curtain in the front apron and the newly developed Air Breather in the front wheel arches underscore the sporting character of the BMW X5 – and, at the same time, help reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. www.easternbmw.co.uk eqymagazine.com 2017
One horse power In this age of mechanised timber extraction, Andrew Whitaker is one of the few to take ‘horse power’ quite literally into the world of forest management BY JULIA WELSTEAD IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN
‘There’s a well choreographed, rhythmic dance in the process of pulling timber, with a mutual bond of trust beween horse and human’
Above: Horse loggers can work in terrain that mechanical machinery can’t reach. Above right: Andrew attaches a log while Ghalm waits patiently. Inset: Andrew directs Ghalm using voice commands.
On first sight, five-year-old Ghalm seems surprisingly small for a draught horse, as compared to our leggier Scottish Clydesdales. On running an eye over his conformation, however, one can appreciate the compact physique, sturdy legs, good slope of shoulder and well muscled rump. Here is 15.2hh of robust power which, combined with a stoic and biddable nature, makes for an ideal haulage ‘machine’. Anything bigger wouldn’t manage to negotiate the terrain. Ghalm is no Scot, but is a North Swedish Horse, brought over here as a three-year-old by forester and shepherd Andrew Whitaker, and is the only one of his kind in Scotland. He’s a beauty, calm yet interested, with a soft, everso-slightly cheeky eye. His stunning colouring is tricky to define – intense, ‘new-conker’ chestnut with Fjord-like markings in chalk and charcoal. His luxuriant tail is kept cropped at hock level: enough for him to swish flies, but above the level of the traces and the working zone, where it could get caught up in chains and tackle. As Andrew tacks Ghalm up in thick
vintage WWII leather, he explains that this is a Scandinavian harness, with the neck piece in two halves, which allows the neck to be free and windpipe unrestricted. A shoulder ring trace attachment also prevents pressure being borne around the front of the chest, and a loose girth belt stabilises the harness to stop slippage and rubbing. It’s lovely to see such old leather still in great condition and doing the job for which it was made. As Andrew says, you can’t get stuff like this these days. Ghalm stands quietly throughout his tack-up, yet strides out willingly onto the forest track, and I find myself wondering what he’d be like as a ridden horse. ‘A bit dull,’ says Andrew, whose previous logging horse, Billy, a feisty Irish Cob with a spring in his step and a mischievous bent, was more fun. But Ghalm is proving to be a fabulous work horse, and that’s an essential attribute when operating in steep, rugged, slippery conditions with logs capable of unexpectedly bouncing or rolling off the sled behind him.
“Big old chunk of a pullquote to run in here and on and on and so on
Andrew shows me the rein he uses as a long line whilst working with Ghalm, which runs from the bit along both sides to meet at a ring on the croup, with a single line from there into Andrew’s hand. With this he can effectively neck rein, along with verbal commands of ‘leo’ (left) and ‘jibe’ (right). The single rein gives Andrew a free hand to adjust the tackle and timber, whilst also giving the horse more freedom to make his own decisions. As a youngster this can sometimes cause a bit of disarray and entanglement, but the horse needs to learn to trust his own judgement and intuition. Andrew predicts that in the next couple of years he will be able to dispense with the bit and rein and communicate entirely with voice commands. It’s a process of building a mutual bond of trust, along with knowledge and experience.
There’s a well choreographed, rhythmic dance in the process of pulling timber from where it lies, with the horse seeming to know where he needs to be as much as the man does. When I marvel at how quickly Ghalm has learned his trade, Andrew tells me that as foals these horses are tied to their mothers and taken out to work, so they learn the routine from the beginning. Most interestingly, the breed is delineated on its working ability rather than on conformation, colour or any other physical appearance traits (as is more normal). Before a foal can be registered as a North Swedish Horse, its parents have to have passed a work ability test. A good horse can pull about one and a half times their own weight on a sledge (Ghalm is 750kg, so can pull 1125kg on the flat and 1500kg downhill). They tend to pull for just under 30 feet, then take a breather before going again. However, production is at its highest with many pulls at lower weights (250-300kg loads all day long is ideal). Every horse knows his own capabilities and will stop and start dependant upon heart rate. This is one reason for allowing them to use their own judgement.
‘A good horse can pull about one and a half times their own weight’
HIGHLAND HORSE FEED
Highland Horse Feed offers an extensive range of horse feed and supplies, including: • Pro-Equine • Charnwood Milling Ltd • Shires Equestrian • The Pure Feed Company • Simple System Very attractive prices with competitive delivery charges. Our shop is situated in the Spey Valley, near Aviemore, an area renowned for its outstanding natural beauty, in the highlands of Scotland.
Visit the store Clury Croft, Dlunain Bridge, Grantown-On-Spey, Morayshire PH26 3LZ
Phone: 07960 814 923 Mon-Sat: 10am-5.30pm Sun: 11am-5pm Or visit the website: www.highlandhorsefeed.co.uk
A fabulous venue offering a combination of affiliated and unaffiliated events, ensuring that every level of rider can enjoy our sport. Easy to access, only 1 mile from the A1. A huge carpark, great catering and friendly faces.”
Rockrose Equestrian Centre, awarded Best Dressage Venue of the year in 2016 Our Olympic sized indoor arena and all weather outdoor, hosts regular British Showjumping, British Dressage and unaffiliated competitions. A complete training venue with regular showjumping clinics from David Harland and dressage from Jill Grant.
‘Horse logging avoids soil compaction and divots and the ground recovers quickly’ Andrew explains the logic behind horse logging: it avoids the soil compaction and divots caused by heavy machinery, which can lead to water run-off as it can’t sink in, which leads to flooding. With no driven wheels, there is no rutting and no crushing of hidden drains or water supplies. The ground recovers incredibly quickly after horses leave a wood. It also means individual and smaller trees can be taken out, creating a fine habitat for pheasants and woodcock, who relish the neat lines of brash, the clearing of which also creates clear rides for the beaters and dogs. Selecting trees at their optimum, while leaving rest of crop to mature, means continuous tree cover. This is really important if we want to prevent flooding. It’s a win-win result, with less damage to the remaining standing stock and enhanced preservation of rivers, lochs and burns. Although they can work in any forest or woodland, Andrew tends to be contracted for specialist areas and situations: SSSIs; windblow; historical sites; steep, wet or less accessible ground; and areas close to footpaths, parks and urban infrastructure. He works all year round and can be out for eight hours a day, five days a week, which he splits to allow for a Wednesday rest day for both horse and human, as it’s a very physical job. Andrew is keen to highlight that, ‘three other businesses rely on the timber I extract: an artisan baker, a sawmill and
builders who source their green oak and other specialist timber through me. We also use extracted timber as firewood.’ In my naivety, I had thought that the practice of horse logging would be on the increase, as this method of environmentally sensitive forestry management becomes better known. But apparently not. ‘When I started horse logging there were five full-time horse loggers in Scotland,’ says Andrew. ‘There are now only two and we are both struggling. To survive we have to be prepared go anywhere for work, yet this is not some outdated thing of history, it is for now and the future.’ Back in the paddock with the not-so patiently waiting Elsie, a gangly two-year-old Suffolk Punch, Ghalm immediately sinks to the mud for a well-deserved roll. I ask about his upkeep requirements and, unsurprisingly, he’s a good doer, needing only grass, and living out with no rug. He even managed to put on weight during last winter. For a horse in work that’s pretty amazing.
Inset: Ghalm and Andrew hard at work pulling uphill. Above: Relaxing by the waterfall after the day’s work.
Andrew Whitaker Tel: 07714757040 www.strathearn horselogging.com
Celebrating 75 years T
of Leading Science and Care for Animals
improving the knowledge and services he Animal Health Trust (AHT) available to you and your pet, even if is the UK’s leading veterinary and you never visit the AHT. scientiﬁc research charity and this year Founded in 1942 by a vet who wanted we celebrate 75 years of improving the veterinary medicine to advance at the lives of countless horses, dogs and cats. same rate as human medicine, the AHT The charity dedicated to the health has been at the forefront of improving and wellbeing of your animals may be the care available for your animal. a hidden gem in East Anglia, but the This vision has led to the AHT owning impact of its research and veterinary Europe’s ﬁrst dedicated veterinary expertise spans the globe. At the AHT MRI machine, and pioneering its use we not only care for animals today, but in veterinary medicine, and the AHT are always working towards improving opening the only purpose-built Cancer the lives of future generations; with the Centre in Europe to deliver radiation charity helping many more animals than its vets could ever see in its referral therapy to dogs, cats and horses. That vision continues, 75 years clinics alone. Every department that you may take your animal to see in their on, and we hope for at least another 75 years into the future. To ﬁnd out hour of need contributes to, or beneﬁts more about our work, celebrations for from, our research projects. Anything the 75th Anniversary and ways to get that we learn from their condition EQY Half edited_EQY_half page 2017 10/05/2017 10:54 Page 1 involved, visit: www.aht75.org.uk wePage share2017 with vets all over the world,
‘That vision continues, 75 years on,’
Animal Health Trust
Registered charity no: 209642
Improving the lives of horses today, tomorrow and forever
The Animal Health Trust is the UK’s leading veterinary and scientific research charity dedicated to the health and welfare of your animal. In our labs dedicated researchers work tirelessly to discover effective cures and treatments; whilst in our clinic teams of expert vets offer a personalised service to every client, regardless of whether you have an elite competition horse or a beloved family pony. Every penny of profit raised treating animals in our clinics goes straight back into the AHT’s work to develop new diagnostic tests, treatments and vaccines to improve the wellbeing of your horse, now and in the future. With your help, we aim to translate our scientific findings into real life benefits for animals as rapidly as possible. For more information and ways to help: Web: www.aht.org.uk Phone: 01638 555 648 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 110
Botanica’s natural herbal products are designed for all skin conditions, including cuts, grazes, wounds, sore paws and rashes. All of the products are antifungal, antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-inﬂammatory and antihistamine. Tel: 02841 739151, www.botanica.ie
Birthstone Horseshoe pendants make a perfect birthday gift from Pegasus Jewellery. This sterling silver Horseshoe set with cubic zirconia and a coloured stone represent the birthstone or simply the wearer’s favourite colour. Priced at £40. Tel: 01387 266441, www.pegasusjewellery.net
Forth Grass Machinery Ltd
Forth Grass Machinery Ltd is a family-run business with years of experience in the garden machinery trade. They supply and maintain machinery for professional use as well as for residential property owners, oﬀering a personal and eﬃcient service. Visit their website to see the full range of machinery, including Automowers. Tel: 01383 841603, www.forthgrassmachinery.co.uk
Harbro has launched a new range of aﬀordable quality horse feeds using the ﬁnest quality ingredients, enriched with vitamins and chelated minerals, to ensure your horse or pony receives a balanced diet created with nutritional beneﬁt and performance in mind. For more information on the new range of horse feed, visit www.harbro.co.uk .
Highland Horse Feed
Based in Grantown-on-Spey, Highland Horse Feed & Pet Supplies oﬀer an extensive range of products for horses, dogs, cats, small animals, wild and domestic birds, poultry, farm animals and ﬁsh. They also carry a range of treats for horses, dogs, cats, small animals and birds. Tel: 07960 814923, www.highlandhorsefeed.co.uk
The award-winning John Deere X350R lawn tractor is robust, reliable and simple to operate. Features include easily adjustable height of cut, high capacity collector and a powerful engine with cruise control. Tel: 08000 852522, www.johndeere.co.uk
University of St Andrews Charity Polo Tournament at Errol Park IMAGES LIGHTBOX PHOTOGRAPHY
01) Philippe de Croÿ-Solre, Eileen Waters, Anne de Croÿ-Solre, Veronika Müller-Wilmes, Luke Owings, Leyla Dogan, Emily Facchina Fluet, Eleanor Turnbull, Arianna Cerqueira. 02) Claudia Brown, Charlotte McCluskey. 03) Abigail Roesser, Jonathan Gregory, Alexa Hammer. 04) Emma Harckham, Brittany Kriegstein. 05) Tiffany Tran, Blake Atherton, Charlie Zachariades, Henry Cross, Liam Carrington, Anna Hallahan.
Horse Scotland Dinner 2017, Westerwood Hotel, Cumbernauld IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN
01) Anna Black, Frances Black, Richard Black, Kimberly Hamilton, Liz Daniels, Colin Hamilton. 02) Dossie Wang, Doddie Weir. 03) Emma Cheape, Sue Cheape, Hanna Cheape, Sarah Cheape.
British Eventing Awards 2016 at Airth Castle IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN
01) Mike and Liz Magennis, Neil and Maureen McLeod. 02) Cousins Sammie and Emma Oakden. 03) Lucy MacKenzie, Isabella MacKenzie and Rosie Buchan.
EQy eqymagazine.com 2017
THE LAST WORD
Get up and get on with it, Thelwell style, or indulge in endless groundwork? Julia Welstead takes a squint at a worrying trend in natural horsemanship
Is it time to get on your high horse? T
Image: The classic stand-off: who’s the boss? Horses are intelligent and do not take kindly to being repeatedly taught the same lesson.
hose of us slightly longer in the tooth and taught to ‘get up and get on with it’ may have fond memories of gymkhanas where the aim was simply to achieve the desired end rather than look good in the process. While our old-school methods may have lacked a touch of finesse (as immortalised in those classic Thelwell cartoons depicting a kicking, whacking, yelling, flapping, sweating rider atop a bemused and wily pony) they got results. We may well have encountered a few problems with our equines’ manners around us whilst on the ground (barging, stomping, head throwing) but we most likely just put up with those behaviours on the understanding that once in the saddle order would be restored. In fact, ‘just get me on and everything will be fine’ was an oft-heard refrain. In truth, if you have earned your stripes in the equestrian world you will, without a doubt, at some point have been given a rapid and ungainly leg-up onto a frantically whirling horse who subsequently shot off up the hill (to which you had pre-emptively pointed him) while you gathered your reins, balance and wits. Now take a leap forward in time and recall when your attention was first drawn to ‘new’ training philosophies, mostly being heralded under the banner of ‘natural horsemanship’. For some of us this approach chimed with our belief that our horses might just
stop trampling on our toes if we took the time to teach them some ground manners. There can be no argument, surely, with a training philosophy that metaphorically, and literally, un-tacks the horse, sheds preconceived notions and looks at how we can best understand and work with the equine way of thinking. It’s always a good idea, in any discipline, to get back to basics and see what really works, what doesn’t, and what can be improved upon. In other words, to work from the ground up. Natural horsemanship, with its roots in the better wisdoms of traditional horse-starting methods across the world, is nothing new. This is merely re-brand to re-package ancient wisdoms in an acceptable form. And, of course, to sell the attendant ‘required’ books and merchandise, sometimes at eye-watering prices. Now fast forward again, to the equine scene of today and there appears to be a problem. Instead of being encouraged to control an ill mannered horse by leaping onto it, the new trend seems to be not to get on at all. Has the pendulum swung too far the other way? At livery yards across the country there are a worrying number of horses for whom life entails standing in a box or postage-stamp sized paddock for hour upon tedious hour. For these horses the much maligned vices of chomping on a fence post or weaving back and forth are the only activities available until the appointed hour when rope halter is donned and they are taken into the school for their ground work, then put back into their small space and fed scientific measures (whatever happened to double handfuls?) of specialist feedstuffs and soupçons of rarefied supplements. Now ground work is excellent. No doubt about it. Your horse will be better behaved and your relationship will deepen. But horses are intelligent and do not take kindly to being repeatedly taught the same lesson, over and over, ad nauseum. If the lesson is learned, you need to move on. Give them, and yourselves, a new challenge. Get on and have a ride. Head out and about and experience some new stuff; do with them the activity for which you bought them. Your partnership will deepen as a result, you and your horse’s confidence will grow, and you might even have fun (which is the point, surely?). There’s a balance to be struck between the Thelwell image of ‘get up and get on with it’ and the natural horsemanship tendency to stay on the ground until good manners are absolutely solid (an impossibility with a flight animal) and there are lessons to be learned from both camps.
‘Just get me on and everything will be fine’ was an oft-heard refrain’ 114
IT’LL GET YOU INTO AMAZING PLACES. IT’LL ALSO HELP GET YOU OUT AGAIN.
AT A STARTING PRICE OF JUST £43,495 One of the many innovative features in the All-New Discovery is All-Terrain Progress Control*. This manages the engine and brakes, so that the vehicle maintains a comfortable and steady off-road speed automatically. Leaving you to concentrate on steering a path through any far-flung landscape you find yourself in. With a starting price of just £43,495, it’s the perfect time to go exploring. Visit the Pentland stand at the Royal Highland Show and experience the New Discovery for yourself between the 22nd-25th June 2017. Pentland Land Rover
Newbridge, Edinburgh, EH28 8TH Tel: 0131 341 5828 Dunkeld Road, Perth, PH1 3GD Tel: 01738 480 142 Eden Valley Business Park, Cupar, KY15 4RB Tel: 01334 441 758 Moycroft Industrial Estate, Elgin, IV30 1XZ Tel: 01343 323 707 www.pentlandlandrover.co.uk
Official Fuel Consumption Figures for the All-New Discovery range in mpg (I/100km): Urban 19.9-36.2 (14.2-7.8); Extra Urban 30.4-48.7 (9.3-5.8); Combined 26.0-43.5 (10.9-6.5). CO2 Emissions 254-171 g/km. Official EU Test Figures. For comparison purposes only. Real world figures may differ. Drive responsibly on and off road. *All-Terrain Progress Control is an optional feature on all model derivatives.
The Farriers Registration Council.indd 1
Scottish Equestrian Year 2017 - is Scotland's finest Equestrian magazine. For horse enthusiasts everywhere. The magazine is free with the Ju...
Published on Jul 13, 2017
Scottish Equestrian Year 2017 - is Scotland's finest Equestrian magazine. For horse enthusiasts everywhere. The magazine is free with the Ju...