Graham Babes on the rise
Latest technology, old kit vs new gear Douglas Crawford’s driving ambition Trude Aird’s 10 tips for perfect showing
Albert Voorn tells it how it is...
Scottish Equestrian year 2019 Untitled-6 1
Douglas Duffin is based at Kirkton Equestrian. He provides training, competition, sales and full livery. He is available for lessons. FACILITIES: • 60mx40m top of the range gel track indoor arena with a full set of international show jumps • Large custom made ventilated stables with sealed and bonded rubber flooring • 8 horse covered horse walker • Solariums • Wash bays with hot and cold water • Arena Hire available
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Welcome to EQy2019 S
o here we are on our ﬁfth year of EQy – I can hardly believe that an idea which took shape in my mind as I worked away at my livery in Fife has blossomed into the latest instalment of EQy. I’m pleased that we’ve also managed to persuade my friend and neighbour Sandra Low-Mitchell, the internationally known showjumper, trainer and breeder who was an early sounding board for this venture, to join the EQy team. Sandra has come on board as our commercial director but has also been an invaluable source of information on new technology in the sport and the best up-and-coming riders. Sandra also staged our ﬁrst event, a showjumping masterclass with Shane and Trevor Breen at The Scottish National Equestrian Centre. On a lovely March evening almost 400 EQy readers and local showjumping enthusiasts turned up to watch the Irish brothers impart their knowledge with an informative and entertaining demonstration. We will be doing more demos, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for more details. I do hope you enjoy this magazine as much as the previous four (which, by the way, you can view in their entirety at issuu.com/henriettaforrest). My personal highlight was interviewing the provocative Dutch rider and trainer Albert Voorn, a hugely impressive ﬁgure with a dizzying range of uncompromising views, but our hope is that there is something for everyone in Scotland’s equestrian community. Remember, whether you enjoy EQy or think we could do better, this is a magazine designed for Scotland’s equestrian community – that’s you! – so let us know your thoughts...
@eqymagazine @eqymagazine @eqymagazine www.eqymagazine.co.uk
Contributors Cal Flyn
Horse riding fanatic Cal looks into the stories behind some of the country’s top riders, including rising stars Graham Babes and Douglas Crawford, and HorseScotland’s breeder of the year Reay Campbell.
Melanie introduces us to one of Scotland’s top grooms Trude Aird. Known for her keen eye and attention to detail, her top tips will help you perfect your horse’s look before entering the show ring.
There is little that equestrian aficionado Sandra doesn’t know about horses. Her unrivalled knowledge has brought together the best of Scotland’s equine world.
COMMISSIONING EDITOR HENRIETTA FORREST HEDDY@SCOTTISHFIELD.CO.UK
Contents Cover image: Graham Babes at Darwilling Farm with his noble steed Boucheron.
10 EASTERN DELIGHT The Oman Royal Cavalry’s all-female Marching Band brings a splash of colour to Edinburgh’s Royal Military Tattoo
68 REACH FOR THE STARS At just 20 years old, Douglas Crawford is already taking the eventing scene by storm
18 THE BLACK SHEEP Meet Susie the sheep who feels right at home with her horsey friends
74 A BREED APART EQy talks with HorseScotland’s equine breeder of the year Reay Campbell
28 OUT WITH THE OLD... A glimpse into how equestrian gear has evolved over the last century
78 STEALING THE SHOW Trude Aird gives us her 10 top tips on how to prepare for the show ring
36 FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH Some of the country’s greatest riders reveal their most embarrassing moments
88 NEIGH LIMITS Donna Ker-ramsay, recipient of the Rural Hero Award 2019, is making horse riding accessible to all youngsters
46 GOING FOR GOLD International showjumping sensation Graham Babes chats with EQy’s Cal Flyn
96 TECCIE TRIUMPHS The latest gadgets to shoot your equestrian performance up to the next level
56 ARABIAN DAZE Horse hero Joy MacLean has spent her entire working life with beautiful, intelligent Arab horses
104 RISKY BUSINESS We all know the dangers of horse riding, so having adequate insurance is crucial
60 FOALING AROUND Former amateur jockey Robert Robinson and his wife Margaret undertook a big project when opening their own stud
114 TESTING TIMES The number of horses being injured or killed while being transported in horseboxes is horrifying and often avoidable
DUTCH MASTER Dutch equestrian hero Albert Voorn tells all about his incredible career
Also inside 06 HOOFBEAT Keeping you up-to-date with all of the latest equestrian news 55 THE PERFECT MATCH Our favourite pictures of you with your horses 67 TRIED AND TESTED Reviewing the latest gear for your next equine adventure 111 BOOK REVIEWS Some equestrian books to add to your bookshelf 113 SOCIAL SCENE A round-up of snaps from the Berwickshire Hunt Ball
Image - The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
EDITORIAL AND DESIGN Editor: Richard Bath Creative & Commissioning Editor: Heddy Forrest Designers: Damian McGee, Grant Dickie Photographer: Angus Blackburn Writers: Cal Flyn Sub-editors: Morag Bootland, Stephanie Abbot, Rosie Morton Artworker: Andrew Balahura Intern: Kirstin Tait Contact: editor@ scottishequestrianyear.co.uk; 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: Sandra Low-Mitchell Tel: 07715 545769 Sales & Marketing Assistant: Alasdair Peoples SUBSCRIPTIONS AND DISTRIBUTION Address: Warners Group Publications plc, The Maltings, West Street, Bourne, Lincolnshire, PE10 9PH Tel: 01778 392014 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org If you experience any difficulties in obtaining EQy Issue 5, please contact 01631 568000
Hoofbeat The King of showjumping
An exciting new showjumping league is about to kick off in Scotland. The Scottish Champions Tour, brainchild of long-term showjumping competitor John King, started at the end of March and will run through to the end of June 2019. John and his wife Margo say their vision is to put the fun back into showjumping and give the ordinary weekend rider something to work towards, with a clear goal and some super prizes. The league encompasses three levels – 95cm, 1.05m and 1.15m – with qualifiers set to run across a wide geographical area of Scotland. Points will be allocated to the top 15 in each of the qualifiers with the top 25 in the points league going forward to compete in the finals, which will be held as part of the Scottish Extravaganza Show at the Royal Highland Showground in July. Prizes range from a SCT cap for each winner of the qualifiers, to topclass sponsored rosettes, holidays/breaks, saddlecloths, rugs, trophies and champagne. Further information on the SCT league, including the full listing of qualifiers, sponsors and prizes, can be found on the Facebook page Scottish Champions Tour.
Tricks of the trade Gaining the skills necessary to become a farrier takes lots of hard work, both physically and mentally. For anyone interested in the craft, the current approved route to becoming qualified as a farrier is by undertaking an Advanced Apprenticeship (AA). Candidates for an AA in farriery must be at least 16 years of age, however there is no upper age limit. Candidates must serve a period of apprenticeship while employed by an Approved Training Farrier (ATF). During training, and in order to be eligible for registration into the Register of Farriers via an apprenticeship, the following outcomes must be successfully completed by the apprentice:
Training consists of planned experience gained with the ATF interspersed with periods of centralised ‘off the job’ training at an approved college. The Apprenticeship is delivered by the following colleges which have been approved by the FRC: • Herefordshire and Ludlow College, Tel: 01432 870316, hlcollege.ac.uk • Myerscough College (Preston), Tel: 01995 640611, myerscough.ac.uk • Warwickshire College, Tel: 01926 318000, warwickshire.ac.uk
• Technical Certificate – WCF Diploma in Farriery (QCF) • Diploma in Farriery (Work-based) • Functional Skills at Level 2 (or recognised equivalents) in English and Mathematics • Employer Requirements – Basic Business • 6 Personal Learning and Thinking Skills • Employee Rights and Responsibilities 6
Military precision Army riders are coming together to form a team to compete at this year’s Riding Club Endurance Championships at the British Horse Feeds’ British Riding Clubs Endurance Team event. The team was put together by Major Shelley Bates – she first conceived the idea after talking with army friends and colleagues who had expressed an interest in the sport but who didn’t own their own horses. Following a Facebook post, Major Shelley (pictured right) has been inundated with offers of help – riders have offered them horses while endurance supporters based near the barracks have offered training. Taking part in the Riding Club Championships involves two qualifying rides of between 30-40km before the final which takes in over 32km at the Red Dragon Ride in Wales in October. Qualifiers for the event take place across the country from March to September.
The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies have unveiled a new Equine Diagnostic, Surgical and Critical Care Unit. Opened by the Princess Royal, it sits alongside a refurbished Equine Intensive Care Unit. As well as offering new surgical theatres and diagnostic imaging, the facility has improved access for teaching, with a viewing area that allows students to observe operations. In recent years, the Dick Vet has expanded and now offers agricultural science degrees alongside its traditional veterinary degrees, and has made significant investment in facilities across its campus. This has been reflected with a rise in the league tables. They were ranked sixth in the world in 2019 and topped the UK Guardian league tables for the second year in a row.
Pastures new East Fife and Scooniehill RDA will be moving to Balcormo Stud this summer. The group was founded in 1976 and delivers opportunities for therapy, achievement and enjoyment to people with disabilities living in the East Fife area. The new facilities mean participants will have the opportunity to ride both indoors and outdoors. There are also plans to develop a sensory ride. What’s more, they will have their own dedicated stable block at Balcormo, allowing the group to provide sessions on stable management and to expand the services they provide to participants who are unable to ride but would benefit from spending time with the horses. The group will be in their new home by the end of June.
A Perthshire therapist has become the first EMMETT4Horses Practitioner Instructor for Scotland. Nikki Murdoch, who lives in Bridge of Cally in Perthshire, trained to be an Instructor for the EMMETT Technique Horse Practitioner Courses. The EMMETT Technique is a form of body relaxation therapy for both people and animals. It involves the application of light finger pressure at specific points, stimulating the body’s ability to change muscle tension and action. The result is often instantaneous, giving great comfort and relief. Nikki became an EMMETT Technique Practitioner for people first and then progressed to horses. She is now an Advanced Practitioner. eqymagazine.com 2019
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All those heavy lifting jobs including hay and straw and strenuous mucking out are made much easier with this superb mechanical assistance.You will no longer have to manually move jumps around in the arena as the Avant will do all the lifting for you; it will even do the poo picking too. This versatile machine is enhanced further by the availability of more than 200 attachments, making so many jobs straightforward. And all attachments are quick, simple and safe to attach! Time consuming and tiring jobs such as sweeping or pressure washing the stables will be performed with ease.Yearly paddock maintenance with ďŹ‚ail mowers, poo pickers and postal augers will help you to be ready for all seasons. All these can also be locally sourced from many AVANTHIRE partners in Scotland for daily or weekly hire. With a low operating weight, simple and economical maintenance, these machines are perfect for both domestic or professional use.
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Bit by bit
To help improve horse comfort and welfare while bringing down costs for riders, Jet Set Saddlery have launched the first bit bank in Scotland. The Ayrshire-based saddlery and countrywear specialist have created an opportunity whereby riders can try a variety of different bits through a hire service. The company work with a large number of suppliers who are at the forefront of research and development. Thanks to a collaboration with Neue Schule and Bomber Bits following advice from the trained team at Jet Set Saddlery, customers can try the chosen bit for 30 days, pay the full amount first, and if the bit is not suitable customers can return it and receive a refund less a 10% hire charge. For more information visit jetsetequestrian.com
Mrs Breenâ€™s boys Equine enthusiasts were treated to some top tips from showjumping brothers Shane and Trevor Breen as they headed up an evening masterclass. Hosted by Balcormo Stud and EQy magazine on 19 March, the demonstration at SNEC brought the two competitive brothers together as they each rode horses from young to advanced levels, showcasing the different exercises they have adopted throughout their careers before facing off in an ultimate challenge. Trevor and Shane each had to ride a horse, gallop around a course of jumps, then take the wheel of a BMW M4 (provided by Eastern BMW) to complete an obstacle course, before finally getting in an avant machine and making their way through a set of cones laid out in a winding path. They were both timed for their efforts, with Trevor being crowned the victor and winning a model car. The next demo is to be announced soon.
The 179th Royal Highland Show will take place on 20-23 June this year. It will be hosted by The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) at the Royal Highland Centre at Ingliston near Edinburgh. This yearâ€™s Heavy Horse Extravaganza will be a celebration of Clydesdales as the power behind farming at the turn of the 20th century. The launch of a brand new Cob class and the ever-popular Pony Club games will bring together riders of all standards. In addition to all the horsing around, the show will feature a huge selection of exhibitors from around Scotland including tasty food and drink, clothing and farming equipment.
Alarming new statistics have revealed that nearly two horses a week are being killed on UK roads, with over 845 incidents involving horses and drivers reported to The British Horse Society last year. The British Horse Society (BHS) collates statistics each year to understand the rate of incidents involving horses and riders on UK roads. In the last year alone, 87 horses and four people have been killed whilst riding on the roads and 73% of incidents reported occurred due to vehicles passing by too closely. The charity is urging drivers to be more careful when passing horses on the road, with the new statistics showing an incident increase of 109% compared to the previous year. Drivers should report all incidents to The British Horse Society website (bhs.org.uk/our-work/safety/report-an-incident). Image - British Horse Society
SULTAN OF OMAN’S CAVALRY
Eastern delight The Oman Royal Cavalry’s Mounted Pipes and Drums and all-female Marching Band brought a splash of colour and some very special horses to The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2018
â€˜Shire horses and Arabians travelled the 5,000 miles to Scotland, trading Arabian sands for the cooler climes of Portobello Beachâ€™ eqymagazine.com 2019
THE BIG OF XXXXXXXX SULTAN PICTURE OMANâ€™S CAVALRY
Above: Some of the 31 horses that flew from Oman make their way up the castle hill. Right: The cavalry pipers feel right at home at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Previous pages: The horses stretch their legs on Portobello beach ahead of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
‘23 of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Said al Said’s horses performed on the castle esplanade each night’
Top left: In the spotlight at Edinburgh Castle. Top right: Members of the band ride entirely with their legs as they need their arms to hold and play instruments. They also ride without stirrups. Above: One of the four drum horses that made the trip to Scotland.
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Images: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
THE BIG PICTURE
â€˜The cavalry has been open to men and women since 2001. Today women are involved in all aspects of the military organisationâ€™ Top: The ladies of the marching band are dressed in traditional Omani silks. Below: As well as performing in the band, the ladies look after the horses. Buthaina (pictured) plays the French horn in the band.
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THE BIG PICTURE
Image: The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo
â€˜The ladies in the marching band train for up to four yearsâ€™
Top: The ladies wear traditional Omani dress and choose the colour of the beautiful silks. Maizoon (pictured) plays the clarinet in the band. Left: One of the sixty women in the marching band. Below: Haifaa plays the bass drum in the marching band. Here she is pictured with Captain Abdulah.
eqymagazine.com eqymagazine.com 2018 2019
SUSIE THE SHEEP
The black sheep Susie the sheep doesn’t quite fit the mould, but her motherly love for an orphaned foal is heartwarming BY KIRSTIN TAIT IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN
U Below: Susie nuzzles into Comfrey. Opposite: Susie feels right at home among her horsey friends.
nlikely friendships evolve between different species all the time, whether it’s a duck bonding with a puppy or an ostrich befriending a giraffe. They may seem out of the ordinary, but very often these beautiful partnerships blossom. Taking everyone by surprise, though, was Susie the sheep. Gill Henderson and Jackie LowMitchell – keeping a watchful eye on their young ewe – never expected her to take to motherhood in quite the way she did. Taking a newborn foal under her wooly wing, her maternal instinct kicked in beautifully. Their story together began a week after Comfrey was born. His 20-year old mother sadly died just a day after she foaled, leaving her baby an orphan. Despite a traumatic birth, the colt wasn’t left distressed, and as he was only a day
old, he had no idea his mother was gone. Comfrey was bred by Gill, who stayed at Jackie’s farm when Comfrey was a foal. He is an Irish Draught Sports Horse X Percheron which made him a very strong colt to handle. Gill is an experienced breeder who has bred a line of great horses, including Clantara Shadow Play, an acclaimed show horse who is cousin to Comfrey. For months Comfrey the colt was fed two or three times a day by Jackie and her team and although he was helped along by his human friends, there was still something missing, something that would be detrimental to the foal if he was to do without – a new mother. To replace the mother figure in the young horse’s life, Jackie brought in a Shetland pony to keep Comfrey company, but it was not love at
first sight. Cruelly kicking the newborn aside, the pony didn’t hide its dislike for its new companion. At a loss, Gill and Jackie were out of ideas. It was then that Jackie’s daughter Sandra suggested bringing in a lamb to keep the colt company. Susie was only three months old herself when she met Comfrey. Although the two didn’t bond immediately, they clicked after a few days together. Thereafter they spent their days living in each other’s pockets, much to the amusement of their owners. If Comfrey went for a gallop, so too would Susie. The new best friends spent every day together and Susie was a natural at motherhood. They moved into their own little paddock together which gave them open space in which to frolic, play and graze; Susie even wore a halter in and out of the stables – just like her foal. They then joined the other mares and foals in the big field. Jackie recalls that ‘one day they were among all the mares and foals – there were about eight of them. We had lots of visitors here and they wanted to go and see the foals. So they cracked whips and made them all gallop around and Susie
was galloping around faster than anybody. She’s quite the character.’ When it was time for the foals to be weaned off their mothers, Jackie assumed Susie would stick with Comfrey and the other foals, but to her surprise Susie decided that she was a mother too and followed the mares back to the field. She had completed her job at bringing up her foal and now she was to stick with the other mothers. ‘She thinks she’s a horse, we thought we could catch her and put her with the rest of the sheep,’ laughs Jackie. ‘We thought we could maybe get her to have lambs herself and live like a normal sheep, but there’s no way. She would be so unhappy away from the “other” horses.’ Susie, now two years-old, spends her days living out with the other mares, eating, sleeping and breathing with her fellow mothers. She has since grown into a ‘big black hairy thing’, as Jackie likes to describe her, and currently shares the field with five other horses, three of which are in foal. She continues to graze among them, acting like she’s one of them – Gill recalls even having a shot at showjumping with her. She is said to be very choosy with her companions, sticking with one of the horses for a few days before moving on to another. Meanwhile Comfrey is a strong, healthy, rising two-yearold and has since been sold on. He is doing well, has shown no signs of any issues commonly associated with orphan foals and is currently living with his older brother. Despite their unusual partnership, it’s clear Susie felt a real bond with her adopted foal and remarkably she fulfilled her duties as a mare and a mother – proving that best friends need not be alike to form an everlasting bond.
‘If Comfrey went for a gallop, so too would Susie’
Dutch master Olympic silver medallist Albert Voorn is a class act – not only is he a brilliant showjumping coach and a visionary rider, this outrageously outspoken character is known for telling it how it is... BY HENRIETTA FORREST IMAGES LOTTA BERGMAN
first met Albert Voorn at a clinic at Balcormo Stud in Fife. At the time I was trying to juggle my showjumping career with a busy job. I had washed my grey horse the previous night, then shot off to work in the morning before racing home, only to find that my horse had used the time to turn himself a fetching shade of green and brown. With no time to spare I loaded him up and headed to the clinic. Walking into the arena I was met by an immaculately dressed man who took one look at us, snorted in derision and remarked in clipped Dutch-English tones, as immaculate as his attire, that it was a pity that I had not cleaned my horse. I bristled. Did Mr Voorn not realise what a supreme effort it had taken me just to get there? Then I had a quick word with myself: this was a man at the top of his tree, so maybe I should button it and get on and ride. The lesson got
underway and my animosity vanished as I started to enjoy myself. By the end I was a complete convert to Albert and his methods. Over the years I‘ve got to know the exacting Dutchman a little better (although I’m not sure he ever gives too much of himself away) and have come to admire his precision and his firm belief that his method of training showjumping – which varies a lot from most other trainers – is the correct one. But mostly I have come to admire his supreme ability to project his calmness and confidence onto riders during lessons. Fast forward several years and many lessons with Albert, my horses and I now turn up looking shiny and neat. More importantly, I have learnt a great deal. An intelligent conversationalist he holds many controversial views on showjumping and equestrianism in general and is unafraid to speak his mind, so I jumped at the chance to grill him for EQy.
Loud and proud: Voorn is not one to mince his words.
â€˜I was met by an immaculately dressed man who took one look at us and snorted in derisionâ€™
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Wolken Von Blitz MPS
Stud Fee £500 Serano Gold x Omni Star All round stallion with an exceptional temperament
Stud Fee £400 Stanley Grange Regal Heights x Wolkentanz SPSS Supreme Champion Stallion 2018
Shamazing has a brave yet careful approach to his jumping with unlimited scope and a natural ability to lengthen and shorten. He adds to this 3 balanced and powerful paces adding to the mix a real potential to excel in any discipline! Licensed with the AES- he achieved the highest status for his age. Shamazing combines the best of showjumping and dressage bloodlines with the talent and quality for professionals yet a temperament and trainability suitable for an amateur. He is an exciting all round prospect for the future His Þrst crop of foals have proven themselves across the disciplines in the futurities, foal tour and show ring. ALL have inherited his phenomenal temperament.
Wolken Von Blitz MPS is an exciting young stallion combining the very best of breeding and vast amounts of talent to excel in any discipline. He has a willing nature and perfect temperament making him the ultimate sports pony stallion. He has an uphill frame with a well set on neck. A big walk with good over track, his trot and canter are uphill and elastic. Over a fence he is careful and makes a perfect bascule. He adds to the mix endless amounts of scope. He received a score of 82.69% in his SPSS stallion grading allowing him to win the Northern Stallion Champion and then Overall Supreme SPSS Stallion Champion 2018. 2019 will be his Þrst season at stud
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Image - Split Seconds/Alamy
‘There aren’t many people who have my knowledge of riding’
Your training style is different as you stress the importance of riders allowing the horse to carry itself as it pleases when jumping. Tell me about this? Was there a lightbulb moment for you? I was having a good show with my horses but I had one horse Wembley that I was not happy with; he won the odd class but the rideability was not there. That afternoon I sat watching riders and had a hunch that Ian Miller could help me with Wembley. We both rode him, then we discussed things. It was Ian that let me see the light that afternoon. He came to my place, gave me advice and said ‘you ride this way, there is no problem anymore’. That one lesson changed my riding from black to white. I saw Ian ride my horse, he explains the things he does and I say ‘holy Macaroni!’ If someone shows you something that is much easier than what you do, how stupid must you be not to copy it. But you have to also understand that not everyone has the same level of intelligence. So from that day you have continued to fine tune that knowledge into your system of riding and training others? Absolutely. It was between two
international shows: at the first show I rode X and at the second Y, so riders at the second show said ‘you are a different rider – how can you change in this short time?’ At the first show I was the leading rider and in the second I was second in the Grand Prix but with a totally different riding style. Do you still look for things that you can incorporate into your training and riding? I look on a daily basis. I see so much on the internet and Facebook but it’s a long time since I found something easier or better than what I do, so you come to a point where you say ‘I know it by now’. But I still keep looking. Your style is very different – do people pick it up? People are often attracted to it but often have their own trainers who do not approve of my system. This may sound arrogant, but there aren’t many people who have my knowledge of riding, especially difficult, sensitive or complicated horses. So, very quickly instead of trying to understand and adopt my system trainers get a little bit defensive and criticise riders who are really into my system. They’ll say: ‘Oh you ride like a cowboy’ (after watching Western Riders, Albert advocates cantering horses with the reins in one hand). I sit in silence with other trainers at dinners and hear them explain what they do, then I see them sitting on a horse and I think ‘hmmm your mouth is better than what you are doing’. There is no point in going into a discussion if people are not on the same level. Is it frustrating when riders that train with you haven’t stuck to your system? Honestly? It goes over the top of my head. For example yesterday I finished my last day of three in a place here in
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New Zealand and one student had the best three days ever – she was unbelievable – then she asks me ‘how do I train?’ We just went three days and she still asks this! I don’t understand. You are a great advocate for the horse and you have been outspoken about some organising bodies, suggesting that showjumping is no longer an honest sport. What do you mean? It is particularly bad at the moment; people are not getting the same chance. For example if you go to a 2* show the Grand Prix is 1.45m – now we have judges so we jump above 1.50m and people who are building up a horse for this level are then left behind. What I mean is that if you enter a 2* show you are there for that level but they are building bigger and wider. I strongly believe that horses that have done 3* and up should not be allowed in a 2* Grand Prix. When I go to a show and the class is 1.35m then that is what I want to jump, not 1.40m or 1.50m, but 1.35m. It is happening all over the world – judges and officials don’t stick to the rules because they don’t want to sit all afternoon and watch 25 clear rounds and that is why they put it up. They have such a big mouth when it comes to horse welfare and all that crap but they themselves do not live up to the rules. If you get to a 2* show for example and the course is bigger and wider than your horse is prepared for, do you still jump? No! Many people do because they are there and just hope for the best, but they should be more careful that what they ask is doable for their own horse. I’ve been in so many meetings with riders where we are all on the same page, but then the only one that doesn’t ride is me. Secondly, in sport – if horse riding is a sport, because you can be drunk and overweight and still win – everyone should be equal. It is very simple: you should not have a rider that is pre-qualified because they won the World Championships a year ago, which pre-qualifies them for the Grand Prix. It should not be that Nick Skelton can do one little round somewhere and qualify, while everyone else has to compete many times to qualify for the same Grand Prix. Everybody should be treated the same way to have a fair chance but they don’t do that. How has money changed showjumping? Money has always been decisive, the only thing that has changed is the quantity of people who have money and want to spend it on the sport. At the top level, it’s always been the case that either someone buys you horses or you can’t go to
shows: without money there is no success. Another problem is the ranking book: riders should not rank, it should be a horse/rider combination which ranks so a rider with only one good horse still has a fair chance against a rider with ten. Is the influx of rich people into the sport good or bad? There have never been more shows, but the sport is being ruined by well-funded riders who have discovered that it’s reasonably easy to get results. So instead of rich riders using professional riders they ride themselves because it is exciting. They have trainers and every advantage, they fly into a show and they enjoy success. Ours is a pretty easy sport – there is no other sport where you can be so unknowledgeable, ride so badly and win a big class. Horses often accommodate terrible riding because of their nature. You have said that every time we ride and jump horses we are ‘abusing’ them – will there ever be a day when higher standards are introduced? How is it possible that poor riders can compete at the Olympic Games? In Holland, if your level is 1.20m with your own horse but I let you ride my Olympic horse, then you still have to start at 1.20m and build up by jumping five clear rounds before you can go up a level. That stops all this rubbish riding. But people with money decide the system so rules are broken all the time. These people want to jump higher than they should, but they are using and abusing an animal for their own pleasure and glory. That should be absolutely forbidden. Is it the same in America as in Europe? Yes. I saw someone in the US riding a course who was terrible and I said ‘how is this possible? Who is training this person? If it is a professional trainer then his license should be taken away.’ I posted on Facebook but it was taken down because of the comments. Do you speak to riders who you think should not be riding at the level they are attempting or is that a step too far? I’ve done this a lot but I’m so hated for it that I’ve given up. When you try to improve the sport but that energy makes no difference and people hate you for it, why keep doing it? At a show in 1999 I saw a rider abusing a horse but the steward was an insider so refused to do anything, so I spoke to the rider myself. All the top riders thanked me, but I told them ‘you’re all bastards, you should have done it, not me.’ You
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Do you watch a lot of showjumping? I never go to shows or follow the sport unless I am riding. I’ve never been a watcher, always a doer. When I was younger I was interested in other horses and their riders, but not now, although I do follow racing results. What you would have done if you hadn’t been a show jumper? A racehorse trainer.
want to be friends with everybody but we need to protect our sport. I’ve done it more than once and they hate my guts. Previous: Voorn demonstrating how to position yourself in the saddle. Above: The Dutchman’s steely eye doesn’t miss a thing in showjumping.
Does no one else feel this on your level? No. Maybe in the mind but everyone wants to be so politically correct that they are afraid of hurting themselves by speaking out. Have you always been outspoken? I’ve always been the same; mutual respect and good behaviour are important, so I speak out. That is why I was thrown off the Dutch team – my federation asked us to sign contracts dictating how to do things. I thought ‘hang on, they are telling me to do things in a different way that I don’t agree with’, so I invited them to discuss it. The other riders all agreed with me, but in the end they all signed except me, so they threw me out. I was the leading Dutch rider in 2013 but because I didn’t sign they didn’t take me to the finals to punish me.
‘Everyone wants to be so politically correct that they are afraid to speak out’
Would you turn back the clock on any of your decisions? No. When I look in the mirror I’m proud of myself. No one, and no amount of money, can buy me and make me change my opinions. I’d be ashamed of myself if I let that happen. Do you still have top horses? I bought a mare Stakkana to be my last horse but she got a hoof split in April 2018 so I decided to let it heal properly. That takes a year so I hope to be back in the ring at regional shows this April. eqymagazine.com 2019
What do you do in your spare time? Everything is based around horses. My wife drives a vintage carriage, so I’m her groom and personal assistant. We always push harder, are tidier and more organised, so we win. We go to beautiful places together, we chat and we have this horse moving beautifully in front of us, and our gear is spotless. It’s one big enjoyment. Any other horse sports you are interested in or think should be banned? Anything to do with horses interests me, except endurance. In endurance it drives me nuts that they dress so scruffy, sit scruffy and ride scruffy. 160km riding with a horse should be forbidden. The FEI should ban endurance but won’t as long as the Middle East piles huge money into it. What does the future hold? Showjumping should get rid of the FEI and have our own professional riders’ association, but we can’t because it is the body that represents the Olympics. I hate the corrupting influence of money – in 2012, for example, we had two Saudi Arabian riders who failed drug tests in the Olympic year but were allowed to compete at the Olympics because Saudi Arabia puts so much money into the sport as sponsors. Any other riders would have waited at least six months before their case was heard let alone a judgment made, and they would have been suspended. I said at the time that the two riders would be at the Olympics – their case was settled in two months and they were there. 27
SHOWJUMPING â€“ TACK THROUGH TIME
The times they Equestrian gear has always had a stylish flair but how has our tack changed over the years? BY STEPHANIE ABBOT IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN
are a changinâ€™ Spot the difference: The showjumper of today looks very different to that of the 1950s.
Above: The new high-tech Bates Avanta eventing saddle. Right: A traditional saddle made by Fife saddler George Bell.
‘These were highly skilled crafts people who made a saddle from beginning to end’
ooking back at early examples of the equipment used in most sports is a fascinating exercise in exploring how research and development, design innovation and just simple common sense have progressed throughout history. From the earliest versions of the football consisting of an inflated animal bladder or 17th century tennis rackets made entirely from solid wood to the heavy woollen American bathing suit of the 1870s which completely covered woman’s arms and legs; we’ve certainly come a long way to improve the efficiency with which humans can perform a sporting activity. But what about a sport that incorporates a four-legged teammate? Humans have been riding horses for millennia so although equestrian events were first included in the Olympic games in 1900, the earliest known saddle-like equipment dates back to around 700BC. While we couldn’t get our hands on that particular piece of equestrian history, we did manage to locate a beautiful saddle from the 1950s. Made by George Bell in his workshop in Cupar, Fife, this saddle is a typical example of the saddles being made up and down the country in most cities and towns. Erlend Milne – a
saddle specialist based in Midlothian – explains that the prevalence of local saddlers such as Bell was very much the norm at that time and earlier. ‘These were highly skilled crafts people who made a saddle from beginning to end using very traditional methods that had been around for a very long time,’ says Erland. ‘The skill and quality of their work is second to none which is probably why the saddles are still around today.’ The neat white linen stitching used on Bell’s saddle stands out and is a clear indication of the saddler’s skills. ‘These saddles were traditionally made from leather, and made with a wooden and steel tree. There is hemp lining the leather and the padding inside the panel was traditional wool flocking. The main thing is that it was made to suit a specific horse and a specific rider, but after that it was non-adjustable.’ We have brought in one of the newest saddles on the market– the Advanta model from Australian manufacturer Bates Saddles– to compare with its older equivalent. ‘The biggest thing between these two saddles is probably the adjustability,’ says Erland. ‘Both manufacturers are using a very high standard of craftmanship and they’re using the
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finest materials available to them at the time. George Bell was using the the highest quality leathers he could get his hands on and now Bates are doing the same but with different and modern processes.’ It is these processes and the development of lightweight synthetic materials and carbon fibre, plus aircushioned saddles like the Cair from Bates and Flair from First Though Equine, that allow for greater durability and, most significantly, comfort. Just like the woollen swimsuits worn by our poor ancestors, the most traditional saddles from the 19th and 20th centuries were lacking in the comfort department and offered a limited amount of flexibility of movement. One of the most common complaints from those who possessed the saddles made in the 1950s was just how hard they are, a side effect of making a durable and robust saddle purely from the natural materials available back then. The trigger for much of the change in equestrian equipment across all areas has stemmed from a growing concern over how they effect our horses. ‘There’s been an explosion of science into how we measure the impact of the saddle on the horse,’ says Erland. ‘I would say particularly in the
‘We’re learning more about the interface between horse and rider’
Above and right: The outfits today are made from high-tech sports materials and are lightweight and comfortable compared to the traditional heavy wool jackets worn in the 1950s.
last ten years or so, we’re learning and understanding more about the interface between horse and rider. ‘In the past it was probably the case that the emphasis was a wee bit more around the fit for the rider, whereas now there’s a real drive from all manufacturers that the horse is as important. A lot of what I do as a saddle fitter is educating a customer on what they’re buying and why I’m selling it.’ Modern saddles offer convenience and efficiency, which is also a big advantage. ‘On the Avanta saddle there’s an adjustable stirrup bar. These have been around for a while but tended to be big and bulky – now they’ve been developed with modern metals and are very ergonomic and streamlined. If I was to change a stirrup bar position on a traditional saddle, I’d have to start with a whole new tree.’ We’ve also seen massive changes when it comes to bits. In the times of George Bell and other saddlers across the country nickel bits were commonly used and there was no tech of any kind behind the product, which many horses would have found uncomfortable. However, now it’s a
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Above and right: Although both the old and new kit are equally stylish, the tack and clothing for the modern day showjumper is all about comfort through technology.
veritable science in its own right. The bit worn by our ‘modern model’ horse for example, is a Bomber bit. These bits have been developed to suit a variety of common problems, such as a sensitive tongue and head shakers. They’re even colour coded to help riders choose the right bit to suit their horse’s issues. When it comes to the bridle of days gone by, this is another example of a piece of equipment that’s undergone a ‘bit’ of technical innovation. The Montar Anatomical Bridle is an example of a modern bridle that’s ergonimcally designed to be comfortable and allows the horse to work without pressure or restriction thanks to layers of padding and adjustable features throughout. The most noticeable difference in the clothing worn by our two riders is the style of the breeches they are wearing. The older style was quaintly known as elephant ear breeches. The lovely Diana Lindsay, who kindly brought her traditional kit along to our shoot, shared her thoughts on wearing the earlier style. ‘Out hunting when you’re going through gorse you don’t get prickles and because they are natural wool, you don’t really get wet,’ she says. ‘When we’ve had a blizzard and everyone else is shivering, I’m warm and dry. I wouldn’t swap them for the world.’
‘We’re sure to see many more improvements in years to come’
Although the days of the local saddlers like George Bell are long gone, many of the methods behind these early saddles are still applicable today. Along with the big manufacturers, Erlend Milne continues to design and develop tack using traditional methods with modern materials. ‘You still get those wooden and steel trees, wool flocking and the funny thing is saddles are still predominantly made in the same way, even when it’s with the newer materials.’ While there’s already been a lot of innovation over the years when it comes to kit, Erlend still believes that there’s more to be seen. ‘It’s an exciting time,’ he says. ‘In the saddle world it can be extremely antiquated but with more science coming into things it’s really raising the bar so we’re sure to see many more improvements in the years to come.’
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TOP RIDERS’ HIGHS & LOWS
From the horse’s mouth Four of the country’s elite equestrian competitors talk us through their incredible careers, from their horsey highlights at international competitions to the horribly cringeworthy moments that left them red-faced
KATHLEEN HAMILTON Showjumper
How did you get started in your equestrian career? There was a Highland pony that lived in the field next door to my house and it was unbroken – it wasn’t the best thing to start riding on but I managed to persuade my parents to give me six riding lessons on the understanding that I never asked for my own horse. So I got the lessons and the rest was history. After the lessons I thought I’d be able to just get onto the unbroken Highland pony and ride off into the distance. It didn’t quite happen like that – it kept bucking me off and spooking at ducks, but it all worked out in the end.
A moment of glory: Kathleen competing at RHS in 2017.
When did you decide you wanted to be in showjumping? I’ve always enjoyed showjumping more than anything else – it’s because I get more out of it. I got a horse that was better at showjumping than at cross country, so that’s really what got me into it. I’ve been lucky enough to have quite a few good horses over the years. I’ve combined it as much as I could with work and kids – it’s a constant juggle. But you make time if it’s something you’re passionate about.
Image - Sinclair photography
What do you love the most about showjumping? I like the feeling of a horse that’s a really nice jumper and has good technique. I also like the technical nature of showjumping tracks. I get more of a thrill from doing a decent showjumping track than I do on technical distances. I find dressage a little subjective as well because it’s judged, whereas with showjumping you either clear the jump or you don’t. What has been the highlight of your showjumping career so far? I’ve qualified for Horse of the Year Show twice. Being at HOYS and going through the purple curtain into the main arena there has to be a highlight. Nowadays I think HOYS maybe isn’t as prestigious as it once was because there are so many really good shows on now. I’m quite traditional though and I still think HOYS was my favourite thing.
Who has influenced you the most in your career? My husband Andrew has probably done the most for my riding. We work quite well together and I hugely respect him as a rider and a coach. I’ve learned heaps from him. He also gives you a lot of confidence and makes you believe in yourself which is really important. We’ve been married for five years and we’ve been together a lot longer than that. We’ve got two boys that keep us busy. What would you still like to achieve? I’m in a slightly different position to other showjumpers because I have to combine it with family and work. What I’ve enjoyed particularly over the years is producing young horses up to a decent level and selling them on when they’ve reached a high enough level to go abroad or to bigger shows down south. I’d like to be able to do that again – to produce a young horse and see it go on and be successful. That’s really satisfying. What has been your best moment horse-wise? I had a grey horse called Iver when I was a bit younger and he went to the Horse of the Year Show. At that stage I had absolutely no idea that he and I could ever do that. I was in my 20s at the time. It was a nice moment. Just getting there was the best thing I’d achieved at that stage so I was pretty happy. That horse was quite quirky – that’s one of the reasons I was surprised we got as far as we did. What has been your most embarrassing moment with a horse? I remember jumping in the main ring at the Highland Show with Iver and he got spooked by the crowd. He just turned and galloped out – it was like he was saying, ‘nope, not doing that today!’ There was absolutely no way he was going in there. Once he’d made his mind up about something, it was very difficult to change him. If he had an idea in his head, that was it. He embarrassed me quite a lot. I had another moment with my mare when we were at the Highland Show. It was really wet and everyone had their umbrellas up – she just would not go anywhere near the ring because of all these umbrellas. So we had to do quite a lot of umbrella training after that. If you hadn’t been in showjumping, what would you have been? I’m a lawyer more than I am a showjumper because, although it’s a very serious hobby, jumping is still not my career. I might have done another branch of equestrian sport – I did enjoy eventing so I might have carried on with that. There’s never been anything that’s attracted me as much as riding. I’m probably thinking about horses when I should be doing my work sometimes. I always seem to spend Monday mornings reliving my rounds, thinking about what I should have done better. I remember as a teenager I’d always be reliving my cross country rounds when I was supposed to be in my room studying. Half an hour would pass and I’d have done no studying, but I could tell you how I should have ridden that round differently.
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and they’re not just hammering round a showjumping course – they get their horses to last as long as possible. The hardest thing in any equestrian sport is to keep your horse sound. Of course there’s Charlotte Dujardin and Caroline Powell too, because they’re nice as pie.
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How did you get started in your equestrian career? My parents did a lot of eventing 200mg and driving. When I came along they got 100mg me a pony and then we started showing, 50mg so as long as I’ve been alive I’ve been 50mg plonked on a horse. I’ve not really known life without them.
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What’s been your most embarrassing moment with a horse? I’d not long had my daughter Emily – she was born in January and I went to an event in May. I was only going to do 100 and it wasn’t a hard course. I went down the centre line and I couldn’t remember what to do. I turned right and I got buzzed, I turned left and I got buzzed. I just stopped and said, ‘I haven’t got a clue what the dressage test is’.
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What’s been your best moment horse wise? When I was 16 years old I competed for my country. Being really young that was quite a highlight. But you’re only as good as your next competition. I’ve learned not to think ‘I’ve done it’. Even if you’ve just won a big competition, you could come out next week and end up at the bottom. That’s what my husband James and I always say – you’re only as good as your next competition.
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If you weren’t working with horses what would you have been? Well now, I could tell you what I want to do now, ® but it wouldn’t have been what I wanted to do at 19. Is there someone in particular who has Now I would go and do sports psychology because I inﬂuenced you in your career? I admire think it’s really interesting; peoples’ thought processes people like Scott Brash because he always looks at the bigger picture. They’re not just Equine joint supplement are way more thought about now than they were 25 in it to win it, they look towards the future. containing extremely highyears ago. When I was young, oh I don’t know. All I ever £67.50 really thought about was horses. They might pull back in a dressage ring levels of Glucosamine, Methyl
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What would you still like to achieve in your career? I’m just happy having the chance to compete. One day I’d like to get something to trot down the centre line at HOYS. Whether that’s me, or my daughter, or one of our clients, then perfect – it doesn’t have to be me. I think that comes with age. I’m happy just being a part of it.
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What would you still like to achieve in your career? I’m going to try Tattershall this year, it’s now a two-star – we’ve missed the one-star. I’m now a granny, don’t get me wrong I still want to win but I’m definitely pickier now. My horse is more experienced so I don’t need to run it every weekend to get to my aim. It’s just a case of seeing what comes along and if my horse is ready.
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What do you love most about eventing? I love that you know when and where you’re doing things. If you go showjumping, you don’t £67.50 know£67.50 whether you should be there all day or you should go at 10 for o’clockup or 3 o’clock for your class. to The people in eventing are tofor up really nice. It’s just a nice atmosphere.
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What’s been your best moment horse wise? I went to Windsor and did the two-star down there years ago and it was the first two-star I’ve ever done. The whole week was a disaster. My groom threw me up and over my horse so I landed face down, my horse bolted back up to the stable, I had to get her, gallop down, then they told me I had run out of time. I complained and they agreed to let me compete but I had to go last. We finished with a double clear inside the time and I got the most improved mare and we moved up to something like nineteenth place from about ninetieth.
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What’s been your most embarrassing moment with a horse? I met What’s been the highlight of your career so far? I won the novice the Queen once, that was very embarrassing. We were at Badminton champs down at Belton so that was quite a big day. You’re down and Ian was first to go, it was the year he won. No one told me she there with the bigwigs and I didn’t expect it in a million years. I was coming to speak to us because they thought I’d get excited. I E Y N B NEY B A A ® MO MO didn’t even look at my dressage score, I just carried on with my day. nearly blanked her because I was getting a horse ready and this wee I knew because it’s showjumping and the scores are in reverse that I wifey with a head scarf and a mac came pottering up beside me was doing well, but I still didn’t think I’d win it. and started to speak to Ian. I just ignored her. When I realised it was Equine total digestive stomach k k o.u her I was curtseying and bowing and didn’t know what to do. o.u e.c ttaLif ttaLife.c www.Be www.Be and intestinal support formula Who has influenced you the most in your career? Ian Stark, absolutely. A containing only the highest AR OF O F R A N Ian ANT I lived did all the training If you weren’t T E E for a long time because he E E and breathed grade active ingredients withan eventer what would you have been? I think I would from a beginner level. He still amazes me with his broken bones and have been a nurse. I love gory stuff. Or maybe a dancer. We did a zero fillers. 100% competition pelvises that don’t work. He’s a very good mentor.legal, contains no Scottish Strictly Come Dancing and I won that. banned R
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Trotting on to greatness: Joanna and Romeo make a formidable team.
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tional Dressage Championships last year with my horse Romeo at Stoneleigh. The atmosphere of competing at such a high level really opened my eyes. It was inspiring watching the best in the UK competing. It gave me the incentive to try even harder and get back there again.
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What has been your most embarrassing moment with a horse? Back in the day when you had to do a novice two-day to get to Blair, I was doing the two-day event at Burgie. They used to have a big drop fence and my horse just got to the edge and backed away from it, all the way back down the hill to the start box. He just went ‘no, not doing that!’
Who has influenced you the most in your career? I look up to Debby Lush, my trainer. She’s a List 1 dressage judge and a Grand Prix dressage rider. She comes up once a month to my yard and I run clinics with her. She has a huge depth of knowledge about the technical side of ®If you hadn’t been in dressage, what would dressage. She was classically trained by you have been? I have a background Arthur Kottas. The way she teaches, she in science and IT so I probably would makes everything very clear and simple Muscular support formula. have continued that career if I hadn’t had to understand. PharmaPLAST elite competition the opportunity to run the yard here. I support isstill an like extremely worked for the council doing IT develWhat would you to achieve? I’ve high specification formula to opment. My husband is a farmer, he used got to get a horse to Grand Prix. From the promote topline, condition and to grow potatoes but we switched to business side of things I also want to demuscle growth. The latest in horses full time. So we changed all the velop the yard at West Bank Equestrian. post exercise recovery sheds from potato sheds to stables. I run dressage clinics here. We recently and muscle support. 100% competition legal, contains no banned substances.
What has been your best moment horsewise? I think back to when we were in Australia when we won at the National Championships. I guess the highlight is still going to be the Nationals because that’s the highest level I’ve ever achieved. It’s about doing what you love and helping other people achieve their dreams as well. I train a rider who was in the Scotland Under-18 Event team – she was placed in the top 10 at Frickley at the Championships last year.
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DonnaDiva Equestrian ‘Daringly Different’ – that’s how Grace Hughes, founder and owner of DonnaDiva Equestrian, would describe her business. DonnaDiva was created two years ago to provide top quality equestrian clothing and horsewear that stands out from the crowd. Prior to launching DonnaDiva, Grace worked in the legal profession as a business development director. Combining her business and marketing skills with her love for quality equestrian clothing, she decided to launch DonnaDiva. Although she now works seven days a week and very long hours, Grace’s passion and love for her business is palpable. Formed only two years ago from humble beginnings – in a bedroom in Grace’s house where she processed mail order sales from their website – it has grown considerably and now has a loyal customer base expanding throughout the UK, Australia and the USA.
‘Having worked in the corporate world for many years, I understand how difﬁcult it is to shop within normal shop opening hours. So as well as our online business, we will open DonnaDiva HQ seven days a week to suit customers’ needs and at any time of the day. One of our customers works on a shift pattern and it suits her to come to shop at 10pm in the evening, and so we are happy to be able to suit our customers’ needs.’ To create brand awareness and make an impact on the market quickly, DonnaDiva decided to sponsor some high proﬁle riders. ‘It is a considerable investment for our small business and we invest heavily in them, however they are successful at what they do and we hope that it will pay off. Certainly when I travel down south to support some of our riders, I’m amazed at the number of people who have heard of DonnaDiva considering we only started trading two years ago. ‘To truly be Daringly Different we spend a lot of time sourcing new brands and thinking about what will be the next big seller. We have sourced some amazing brands which are exclusive to DonnaDiva in Scotland including UHIP, a Swedish coat manufacturer, and Cavalleria Toscana, an Italian designerwear company. ‘In addition to sourcing new brands, we designed and made our own showjackets and all of our sponsored dressage riders can be seen wearing our distinctive jackets and tailcoats with the purple trims.’ ‘DonnaDiva is also close to launching a Competition Room at DonnaDiva HQ. It will be a one-stop shop for all your competition requirements. If you want a bespoke look we can design everything from the hat to the jacket to the boots to the browband your horse wears on his/her bridle. ‘We thrive on providing excellent customer service. We are open seven days a week by appointment and our customers know that they can get in touch with us at anytime. ‘In terms of promoting our business, we don’t sit around waiting for customers to come to us; we invest in the sport that we love and run our own dressage and showjumping competitions, demonstrations and fashions shows. In fact, on 18 April we have 420 people signed up to attend our free demonstration where our brand ambassadors will be showing why they were selected to become DonnaDivas! (Donations at the door in aid of Cancer Research UK) ‘Someone once said that “if you love what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life”. I never really understood what was meant by that until now. I absolutely love what we do and as we get ready to host over 400 people at one of our dressage and showjumping demos, you can be sure that the next big DonnaDiva idea is already being dreamt up!’
SHOWJUMPING – GRAHAM BABES
‘Graham was crowned
HorseScotland’s performer of the year and his ascent shows no signs of slowing any time soon’
Flying: Graham in action at Fontainebleau riding Boucheron in the Young Riders Championships.
Going for gold After leaping 600 places in the FEI rankings in just a few months, Graham Babes is one of the hottest properties in international showjumping BY CAL FLYN MAIN IMAGES ALAMY
atch him while you can. Graham Babes is making a meteoric rise through the showjumping ranks. Still aged only 21, Graham was recently crowned HorseScotland’s performer of the year – having leapt 600 places in the FEI rankings in only a few months, thanks to a string of successes on the international stage – and his ascent shows no sign of slowing any time soon. Graham took time out of his busy schedule to call EQY for a debrief, still riding high from six glorious weeks in Vilamoura, Portugal, where highlights included a 1.40m Grand Prix win with his top mount, beautiful bay gelding Boucheron. Eight-yearold Glencoe also won a three-star accumulator, while bay mare Ma Fleur JS outdid herself to triumph in two seven-year-old classes. ‘It’s been a very successful tour,’ he agreed. ‘These horses have all been home produced, so that makes it all extra special.’ When we spoke, Graham and the horses were on the move, making the long drive from the Algarve to Sentower Park in Belgium, where they would be competing in two international shows, before leaping back into the horsebox to drive to Mannheim, Germany, for his second ever five-star international outing. ‘We went to Gijón in Spain last year – that was our first five-star show,’ he says. That was in August, and a very exciting occasion. ‘I really enjoyed it – there was an amazing atmosphere, huge crowds.’
CTION SHOWJUMPING – GRAHAM BABES
‘The atmosphere in these international arenas can be very stressful, so the horses need to be able to handle that pressure’
Image - Angus Blackburn
A moment of calm: Graham, with Glencoe (left) and Boucheron (right), realises the importance of down-time when competing in high-pressure competitions.
At Gijón, they found bookmakers lining the grandstands, taking bets on the day’s jumping – ‘just like a day at the races’ – which draws crowds each day in the tens of thousands and guarantees a lively atmosphere as the punters yell support for their favoured riders. If Graham found it nerve-racking, he didn’t let it show: on the very first day, he and the gifted Glencoe galloped off with the opening seven-yearold class, beating Spanish rider Jaime Silvela to the top spot by 1.32 seconds. Eccosse, a talented homebred gelding showing a great deal of promise, went clear every day in fivestar competitions, and the brilliant Boucheron (or ‘Boo’) made a remarkable five-star debut, coming sixth in the 1.45m speed class. ‘All the horses handled themselves really well,’ he says. ‘It was a big arena, with long runs to the fences, followed by tight turns. There are just a lot of contrasts. All the tracks were very testing, with big, bold jumps.’ It came hot on the heels of the European Championships, where Graham was one of four young riders on the gold medal-winning GB squad (although this would later be dropped to silver, after team-mate Harry Charles was belatedly disqualified). ‘Performing at Fontainebleau would probably be my biggest achievement last year,’ says Graham. Indeed, it was Graham’s brilliant performance in Fontainebleau that led to his five-star advancement. After the championships, British Chef d’Equipe Di Lampard called the Babes family at home to suggest Graham come to Gijón, with a view to progressing to the senior Nations Cup teams in the not too distant future. That was a big vote of confidence in Graham’s riding, and brought with it a new ambition. ‘Making the team is one of the goals of this year. But the ongoing project is just to build the horses up, keep them happy and healthy so they will want to keep trying their hardest, and that they’ll perform their best at the qualifying shows.’ It takes a lot, he says, to move up the levels. ‘They need the strength, the ability and the confidence in their jockey to make a step up. The atmosphere in these international arenas can be very stressful, so they need to be able to handle that pressure.’ Graham, too, has to cope with the strain of competition. ‘When you’re competing to a high level you have to deal with adrenaline. You learn to cope with it and use it to your advantage; your reactions are quicker and you’re more alert to what’s happening around you. ‘When the jumps are coming at you at top speed,
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‘Showjumping is a glamorous, affluent world and it can be hard to keep up with the Euromillionaires’ you have to control your emotions and your body so as not to force your horse into a mistake.’ He feels temperamentally well suited to the life of a showjumper. ‘It’s the same for riders as for the horses; it’s harder if you’re highly strung. And the more often you ride at the top levels, the more rounds you do on horses, the better you learn to cope with it.’ The same goes for disappointment. As unlikely as it seems, given his relentless stream of accomplishments, Graham has his down days too. ‘There are a lot of disappointments. You just have to pick yourself up and give everything to the next event.’ He points to his recent time in Vilamour for examples. ‘I had the fastest time in the jump-off three times, but had a fence down. That’s very disappointing – to get so close to winning all those classes and then get the four faults. It’s a bit like gambling. You take your chances, you take your money. And then, when you have to, you take it on the chin.’ Still, he says, it’s all he’s ever wanted to do. He started riding at the age of eight, and had his first taste of international success at 13 when he rode for the gold medalwinning team at the 2011 European Pony Championships in Jaszkowo, Poland. Since then, he’s been chipping away – with huge support from his dedicated parents George and Muriel, who run Darwhilling Equestrian Centre near Kilmarnock.
‘My whole family have competed,’ he explains. His sisters Stephanie, Stacey and Lindsay are all highly accomplished showjumpers, each having ridden in Scottish teams. ‘Stacey is in Italy at the moment, actually – she competes up to Grand Prix level.’ A very knowledgeable and well-connected family, then, who are becoming well known as dealers and breeders of elite horses. ‘People come to us for advice and to utilise our knowledge and network. That helps subsidise the competing.’ Showjumping is a glamorous, affluent world and it can be hard to keep up with the Euromillionaires. ‘At some shows there are people flying their jockeys in on helicopters,’ says Graham’s father, George. ‘We’re getting on a lorry on a pouring wet day, getting on the M74 and driving for ten hours to get the boat to Europe. Then there’s another day’s drive. So to compete against them and win – it’s a huge achievement.
Le Grand Parquet: It was plain sailing at the European Championships in Fontainebleau.
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It’s in the blood ‘To obtain horses at that level would cost you nameless millions’
Delivering a sterling performance: Graham riding Eccosse at the Equerry Bolesworth International Horse Show.
‘To obtain horses at that level, if you’re not producing them yourself, would cost you nameless millions.’ He points to a recent sale, where a promising six-year-old changed hands for €2.6m. But they’ve been incredibly lucky, Graham hastens to point out. As a teenager he attracted the generous backing of Patricia Fraser, a keen showjumper and the daughter of the late Sir Hugh Fraser, once one of Scotland’s wealthiest businessmen. She has been a tremendous support, as have sponsors including Dengie Horse Feeds, Gatehouse Hats and Devoucoux saddlers. Even so, it is necessary to buy untouched youngsters and to develop them at home – something the Babes have achieved to incredible effect. Last year, Ma Fleur JS (known simply as ‘Fleur’ at home) and Glencoe (‘Glen’) ranked in the top three six- and seven-year-olds in the world, respectively. With Boucheron and Eccosse already flying high at the top levels, and with young horses of this quality coming up quickly behind, the future looks incredibly bright for Graham Babes.
The extreme demand for top-quality showjumpers – and high financial stakes – means that showjumping studs have been turning to ever more high-tech methods. The Babes, who have been breeding horses from their yard in Ayrshire for 20 years, successfully used embryo transplants to breed safely from an older mare with a fantastic track record of producing elite horses. Having bred her with renowned French stallion Diamant de Semilly, the resultant embryos were implanted into surrogate brood mares. Six foals – all full siblings – have now been produced by the Babes in this way. They also purchased two stallions. ‘Our hope is to produce these stallions to jump at a top level. If and when they do, then we can start to offer them at stud,’ explains George Babes. Such stallions become so valuable that ‘you can’t allow them to actually cover the mares’, he adds: most breeding at this level is done via artificial insemination. Whatever next? Well, some showjumping breeders have been experimenting with cloning: legendary showjumpers ET and Gem Twist already have living duplicates. Eventer William Fox-Pitt’s beloved Tamarillo is gelded – but his clone Tomatillo, is now available at stud in his stead. The FEI lifted a ban on cloned horses in international competition in 2012.
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The perfect match Here at EQy, we love seeing our readers’ silly selfies and picture-perfect portraits when out and about with their noble steeds
Above: Marijke Leith from Kintore with Shetland pony Mingulay Oberon who loves a selﬁe. Below left: Jenn Gunter with Thai. Below centre: Janice Sturrock with Cassie from Carnoustie.
Top: Sophie and her pony Barney showing oﬀ their rosettes. Above: Eﬀie and Willow enjoy a snow day in the Pentland Hills.
Above: Lucy McKendrickGoldsbury with her horse, Cherry, on her wedding day. Left: Lexi giving Conn a wee kiss. Below: Leona and Freddie horsing around.
Above left: Kirsty riding Eva from Auchtertool. Above right: Carol Hardie and Milo from Aberdeen. eqymagazine.com 2019
HORSE HERO – JOY MACLEAN
Arabian daze As plucky as they are beautiful, it is little wonder that Joy MacLean has spent her life working with Arab horses BY MORAG BOOTLAND IMAGE ANGUS BLACKBURN
rowing up on the Isle of Mull has meant that horses have always been a part of Arab aficionado Joy MacLean’s life. ‘Pony and trap was the only mode of transport,’ she says. ‘It was always my mother’s dream to have an Arab mare. Her uncle had one when he was in the army and she had always admired his beautiful horse.’ In fact, every horse that Joy has ever owned has had some Arab in them. Her first pony that she went to pony club
camp on was an Arab/Highland cross, the next was three quarters Arab and it just carried on from there. In the late 1960s Joy and her mother moved to the cottage she still lives in near Almondell and Calderwood Country Park in Broxburn. They started their Arab line with a mare bought with a huge bank loan, but Joy recalls how they made their money back ten fold in fun and enjoyment. ‘Joan El Dahab had six foals for us. The first of them was a caesarean and in those days you really didn’t expect mares to survive. But she did.’ From that original mare came Rizelda, the first mare that Joy ever raced. Joy’s love for Arab horses has seen her take full advantage
‘There were never any gallops to practice on, the grass verge of the A8 had to do’
Main image: Joy MacLean shares a stable with Rashah. Above: Joy jumping Ragos, her first stallion; winning on Arctic Fire. Below: Jumping for Joy with her beloved Rashah.
of the breed’s incredible versatility. ‘We got into racing completely by accident,’ she tells me. It all started when a friend of Joy’s broke down at Carlisle on her way to Aintree. Joy was kind enough to pick her and her horses up and take them on to the racecourse. ‘I watched the Arabs racing and thought that they seemed awfully slow compared to my mare Rizelda. So we took her to Market Rasen and she won. I raced in a jumping saddle until I won enough prize money to buy a racing saddle.’ Racing was a great love for Joy when it was a truly amateur sport. ‘Trainers would have four or five horses and most would ride their own,’ she tells me. ‘It was great fun, everyone would arrive the night before the race and camp in trailers and tents.’ But as the sport evolved it became more serious and less fun. ‘It lost its atmosphere, so I retired in 2005. It’s a shame because my stallion, Rashah, has what it takes, he never tires and he would have loved it.’ Joy raced for many years against the best Arabs in the country, some of them owned by Sheikhs, and credits her long list of wins to her secret training ground. There were never any gallops available to practice on, so the grass verge of the A8 had to do. But it was the shale bings of West
Lothian that really made the difference. Flying up hills gave Joy’s horses a huge advantage at courses like Towcester, where the final few furlongs were a tough uphill struggle. ‘Razif could be last of 14 at the bottom of that hill,’ recalls Joy. ‘But he would still win by ten lengths. He left them all standing.’ But this Rocky Balboa style of training didn’t just pay dividends on the racecourse. Joy’s horses have had success in dressage, cross country, hunter trials, showing and time training too. Arabs are well known for their stamina but it’s their big jump that never fails to impress. Even when competing against much larger horses over tough cross country courses like Floors or Gleneagles, Joy’s wee Arabs more than hold their own. Last year saw triumph and tragedy for Joy’s yard as she lost two of her older horses, one very suddenly to an aneurysm. ‘I brought him in and he was chatting up a mare and then five minutes later he was dead. It was awful.’ Victories were in plentiful supply at the Scottish Arabian Championships Show for Rashah, who was the 2018 Champion of Champions and won several other classes. But Rashah wasn’t the only victor. Kirsty Scotland, who has worked with Joy since she went to the yard to do a work placement from Oatridge College, was reserve champion and there were rosettes for Joy’s part-bred too. ‘We won everything,’ she says. ‘It was a bit embarrassing.’ Joy averages out at around one or two foals a year. Her preference is to have at least two so that they always have a friend to play with. ‘It’s better than being an only child,’ says Joy. ‘They learn to play and be a horse and it makes it easier for them to join the herd here. It also makes weaning easier. I don’t make any money out of it, all I do is work to feed them.’
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Everlasting love: Robert has dedicated his entire working career to horses.
Foaling around Reluctant to let horses disappear from his life, Robert Robinson embarked on an ambitious project, opening his own stud in Dumfries and Galloway BY CAL FLYN MAIN IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN
t all started out so innocently. Robert Robinson’s parents kept horses at the family farm near Annan in Dumfries and Galloway, and as a boy he’d go out with them to the local hunt. Soon he progressed to riding as an amateur jockey – and kept it up for 17 years. ‘There’s no adrenaline rush quite like it,’ he says now. ‘After I finished, it felt like there was no way of getting that rush back. To be honest, I was a bit lost.’ He and his brother took on the farm and worked it together until the foot-and-mouth crisis pushed the partnership to breaking point. ‘He wanted out,’ says Robert, who found himself at a crossroads. ‘So in 2001 I decided that it was time to think about what I wanted to do – rather than what everyone else was doing.’ His mind leapt to the racetrack; to the thunder of thoroughbreds on turf. Together with his wife – a very serious horsewoman in her own right who competed in showjumping for Great Britain under her maiden name Margaret Crawford – he decided to make the leap, and set up what would become one of the largest national hunt studs in Scotland. Nothing will produce the same rush as riding as a jockey, he says, but buying and selling racehorses comes pretty close. ‘You get a fair kick out if it,’ he says. ‘Although it has its ups and downs. When you mess up, you mess up, but when you’re successful you know it’s all down to yourself, and you can give yourself a pat on the back. Without Margaret by my side, it would be really difficult. The two of us do quite well as a team, I think.’ It took considerable investment to get the stud off the ground. The farm – which abuts the recently re-opened
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‘A few years down the line we’ve bred a lot of winners, and sold horses in Ireland and all over England’
An unbreakable bond: Robert knew horses would always play a part in his life.
Annandale Distillery, hence the name: Distillery Stud – needed refencing and subdividing into paddocks, suitable buildings needed constructing, and so on. So it was always a necessity to build a successful commercial business. They began as talent scouts, buying foals from the sales in Ireland, with the intention of reselling them further down the line: ‘about six or eight geldings a year, always to sell’. Among the horses bought this way was Regal Encore – an Irish gelding by top stallion King’s Theatre – who has gone on to win seven races, with total earnings of just under £200,000. He’s running in the Grand National later this year at odds of 66/1. Another, African Gold (also by King’s Theatre), is half-sibling to Gold Cup winners Denman and War of Attrition, and has had five wins, earning nearly £60,000. But the plan was always to build up their own breeding stock. Along with those geldings, says Robert, ‘I would buy a nice-bred filly, and send her away until she was a three-year-old’. Then it would be decision time. ‘If their relations had come out and won races, or had form on the racecourse we thought was good enough, then we eqymagazine.com 2019
would breed from them.’ That’s it, he says. And it’s a policy that’s done them very well over the years. ‘I’ve been very strict in what I buy, breeding-wise, and it’s stood us in good stead. A few years down the line we’ve bred a lot of winners, and sold horses in Ireland and all over England.’ Among the Distillery Stud alumni are the nineyear-old bay gelding Singlefarmpayment, who has earnings of just under £100,000 and is also scheduled to run in the Grand National [odds of 50/1]; nine-year-old On Blueberry Hill, who won €65,000 on only his second outing at Tattersalls in 2013; eight-year-old Air Horse One, who has four wins and £77,000 in earnings under his belt; and six-year-old One For Rosie, who’s had three wins in the past two years. ‘We’re currently racing his sister, Misty Whisky, who finished second at Liverpool on her first time out, and then went on to win a nice mare’s race at Ludlow.’ She also won over £14,800 at the EBF Mares bumper series at Sandown and got a £10,000 bonus through the National Hunt’s mare ownership prize scheme. Sometimes they’ll do that, says Robert: retain and race special favourites, if they don’t think they’ll fetch the right price in the sales ring. ‘If 63
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‘If you’ve got the pedigree, the right size, scope and attitude, then the world is your oyster’
you can go out and win a race with a four-yearold horse, first or second time, then there’s quite a high value on that type of horse. We’ve done that once or twice – but you’ve got to know the horse and that it’s capable.’ Generally speaking, the money is in colts and geldings. ‘They’re a lot more attractive.’ Fillies tend to be valued only for their breeding potential. But over recent years, the offering of races for mares like Misty Whisky has improved – and their market value with it. The stud also runs a racing syndicate, Distillery Racing Club, currently numbering 12 members. ‘Friends, and friends-of-friends, that sort of thing. We try to keep it at a number whereby it’s manageable and a bit of fun. It introduces people to the racing world, which helps keep the sport alive.’ Now they’ve put down the groundwork, they have 16 brood mares at the farm, of which 12 are in foal. So it will be a busy year ahead. Robert and Margaret put their youngsters through an intensive course before selling them. ‘We teach them everything, bar putting a saddle on them,’ explains Robert. ‘We teach them manners, teach them how to walk, to canter on
the lunge, and basically produce the horse so it can handle the sales, which can be a very intense place for a young horse that’s never been away from home.’ Most of the Distillery Stud foals will be sold at the age of three, and the majority go across to Ireland (all possible, notes Robert, thanks to a close partnership with Kelso-based Gillies Horse Transport). Sometimes they sell a few foals which helps with cash flow, and occasionally – for those they’ve hung onto and raced – they’ll head to boutique sales to reach the upper-end of the market. Sales will start from as low as £2,000, but can rise as high as £350,000 for the right animal. ‘It’s only the best horses that sell for a lot of money. You can’t pull the wool over anybody’s eyes nowadays. There are so many professionals out there – good judges – and it’s all out there to be seen. You’ve got to produce the right horse for the right sale. But if you’ve got the pedigree, the right size, scope, and attitude, if it has good movement and passes the vetting, then the world is your oyster.’ Six-figure sales? It’s a prospect that could get anyone’s adrenaline pumping. eqymagazine.com 2019
Top left: Robert and Margaret’s stud is based in Dumfries and Galloway. Bottom left: Much work goes into breeding top quality horses. Above: The husband and wife duo with their beloved pooch Ruby.
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Uhip Jacket After the extremely harsh and cold winter we received last year I figured it would be best to upgrade my wardrobe with the Uhip jacket, which I had heard so many good things about. Not only does it look amazing, it’s also incredibly practical as it has a zip which allows it to fit around your saddle keeping your legs warm and toasty whilst riding. It is one of the best presents I’ve ever bought for myself.
Bomber bits I first used a Bomber bit a few years ago on a talented jumping mare that had had the bars in her mouth damaged and seemed to hate all bits, but also hated bitless. Not expecting any great results I tried a Bomber loose-ring Happy Tongue, having read and followed their guide which includes a really handy color code as to what kind of Bomber bit might help with particular problems. My mare loved it and the rest is history. I was finally able to ride her forwards without her concentrating on her mouth all the time. She went on to happily showjump and is still in her Bomber 5 years later. During that time I’ve successfully used various Bombers on several horses that had problem mouths when I got them.
PharmaTRAC I bought a huge young horse last year who I was struggling to keep weight on due to his size, plus he was a bit of a worrier at shows. A friend suggested I try PharmaTRAC which is a supplement that supports and balances the horse’s digestive system. It keeps the PH correct in the horse’s hindgut and definitely helped my horse keep condition. As his condition improved so he relaxed and found travelling and shows, in particular, less stressful. He stopped getting such sloppy poos and tucking up a bit if he had travelled a long way and in consequence was not so nervous to ride in the ring. I still have him on it a year later and highly recommend it.
CBD Active+ We came across the ‘CBD Active+’ in August and upon recommendation we applied it to two of our horses who had sarcoids. With twice daily applications the first horse cleared up within six weeks and the second horse within eight weeks. The results speak for themselves and although it may not work for all, it certainly worked for us. eqymagazine.com 2019
EVENTING – DOUGLAS CRAWFORD
Reach for the stars
Douglas Crawford may only be 20 years old, but don’t be fooled – this young rider is on a mission to take the international stage by storm BY CAL FLYN IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN
ouglas Crawford is a man in a hurry. Still aged only 20, he has already represented Scotland three times on the under-18 eventing squad; in the past twelve months he won the young riders’ class at Frickley in August, came 10th in the Floors Castle CIC* in May, made his intermediate debut, and was shortlisted as youth performer of the year by HorseScotland. And he has no plans of slowing down. ‘My long-term goal is to be an international four-star rider,’ he says. To that end, 2019 is scheduled to be a year of rising through the levels – making his debut at CCI two-star standard, and ideally graduating onto three-star events before the season is out – all on the beautiful chestnut gelding Shadow Lad, bought for him by his employers Geoff and Elspeth Adam. Douglas’ connection with the Adams has been an extremely beneficial one. ‘I’ve known Elspeth a long time,’ he says now. ‘She actually taught me when I was in Pony Club. I would have been about 13.’ They bumped into each other again at the 2017 Blair Castle Horse Trials,
where he was competing on Sarah Brownlie’s Crime Scene. ‘Elspeth said, “I’d love you to ride one of my horses one day,” but nothing more was said at the time. ‘But a few weeks later they phoned me up, and said why don’t you come round for a chat? We were on the same page: wanting to have fun with event horses, and get up to a decent level.’ The Adams are well known in the Scottish racing world – Geoff is director of Kelso Racecourse – and now have a number of ex-racehorses retraining under the Rhymers Eventers brand. Their Melrose yard, says Douglas excitedly, is ‘massive’, and offers the horses a great deal of freedom to come in and out as they please. ‘I started there a couple of months later – so it was all quite fast,’ he laughs. Previously he’d been a working pupil at previous EQy star Wills Oakden’s yard in Perthshire. ‘I was there for about 14 months,’ says Douglas. ‘I would really advise anyone to do that before they start. I hadn’t left school long before I went there and I
‘My long-term goal is to be an international four-star rider’ 68
Rising star: Douglas has represented Scotland three times in junior eventing.
EVENTING – DOUGLAS CRAWFORD
‘He’s a right little worker – we gave him eight weeks off after last year as a holiday but he didn’t enjoy it much’
Image - Julia Shearwood
Left: Lad enjoys getting down to work. Above: Douglas on his beloved gelding Shadow Lad.
really learned the ropes. It was a really valuable experience.’ At that point, Douglas already had extensive competition experience, thanks in part to another Sarah Brownlie mount, the striking dun schoolmaster pony Jacaranda Prince. Together the pair had been Pony Club showjumping champions and made a first appearance on the Scotland under-18 squad, leaping from BE90 classes to CCI* level in the space of a single season. As an up-and-coming young event rider he had now begun to attract owners, and he took those horses with him to Wills’ yard, where he competed alongside his ‘mentor, boss and friend’ on one-star courses. ‘I get on great with Wills – I went to his stag do last year,’ says Douglas. ‘So I didn’t really want to leave, but this opportunity with Geoff and Elspeth was the sort you can’t really pass up.’ Shadow Lad, an eight-year-old, 16’1hh Irish sports horse, was purchased by them from the elite event rider Ben Hobday’s yard in Cheshire and has proven an excellent fit. ‘We just call him Lad around the stable, because he’s a bit of a lad. No bother in any way to handle. He’s never angry, never got his ears back, he’s
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Below left: Douglas is now being mentored by equestrian legend Ian Stark. Below right: Douglas got back in the saddle after a nasty fall.
always up for doing his job. He’s a right little worker – we gave him eight weeks off after last year as a holiday, but he didn’t enjoy it much. He’s quite good in that way. He always tries his best for you.’ Their outright victory together in the young rider’s CCI* at Frickley in August – in which they jumped double-clear to finish on their dressage score of 26.2% – was extra sweet, says Douglas. Their previous outing at the same course, during Douglas’ last year on the under-18 squad, had ended in a frightening accident – ‘a bad fall, a rotational fall’ – on his own horse Pocket Rocket IV. ‘That was hard. And because it’s a team event I felt a bit gutted about it. So it was nice to go back there with Lad and win.’ With Shadow Lad, who has the scope and a good working attitude, their rise seems unstoppable. After a return to intermediate competitions early this season, Douglas is hoping to try their hand at the short three-star course at Floors Castle Horse Trials in May. ‘Floors is our local event – it’s just twenty minutes along the road in Kelso,’ he says. So it’s the perfect place to have a ‘good run around, and hopefully get a good result’ at the higher level. Also just down the road is eventing legend Ian Stark’s equestrian centre in Selkirk. Ian, too, has come to play a role in Douglas’ development. ‘We asked him to be a mentor for me. So he gives me jumping lessons now, on my best horse.’ The ability to draw
from Stark’s decades of experience – both as a top-flight competition rider and a present-day course builder – will be invaluable. If all goes well, there will be travel to ride at some of the more technical courses in England, and international events might be on the cards too: Tattersalls in Ireland is at the end of May, and Pau in October – where there is another short three-star event to aim for, one that would necessitate a thousand-mile road trip. But these offer helpful targets to aim for throughout the year – and great ways to get themselves noticed. ‘I’m also aiming for the intermediate trials in the under-21 classes,’ says Douglas, ‘but as Lad’s only eight, I don’t want to push him too hard. ‘The young rider team would be a big ask. But it would be great just to be at the trials, to make the longlist and to be seen by the selectors.’ I’m fairly certain that he’s on their radar already: Douglas Crawford is most certainly one to watch.
‘I’m also aiming for the intermediate trials in the under-21 classes, but Lad’s only eight – I don’t want to push him too hard’
MY LIFE IN HORSES – REAY CAMPBELL
A breed apart HorseScotland’s equine breeder of the year Reay Campbell believes producing quality foals involves a touch of magic BY CAL FLYN IMAGE ANGUS BLACKBURN
I spent my childhood in New Zealand, where I competed in eventing to a national standard. I started breeding thoroughbred racehorses in my very early 20s and had the beginning of a stud out there. But like all New Zealanders, the big push was to travel. I set off to Europe with a backpack and a one-way ticket. I came to the Highlands because of my heritage. My mother was from Caithness and my father’s parents were Scottish too. I was named after the village of Reay in Caithness. I got a job cooking in hunting lodges up here. I wasn’t much of a cook but, being a good old Kiwi, I was always sure I’d be able to do it. It was during that period that I met my husband and married him. His family has lived in Scotland and the Highlands for generations. Nearly 20 years ago I decided to get back into breeding. There had been a stud nearby with some nice horses, but I drove there one day and the horses had gone. I eventually managed to get in touch with the people who had them, but when we went up there the horses were in terrible condition.
A class act: Reay has a wealth of experience in breeding top quality foals for dressage.
To cut a long story short, I went for one mare and ended up buying 12 horses. The owners had got into great difficulty, and were between a rock and a hard place. It was one of those moments. I thought, ‘Well, I could walk away and always wonder what might have happened. Or I could just bite the bullet and do it.’ So I did it. My husband Pete has been phenomenal. When we first got together I said, ‘look, I’m really interested in horses’. And he said, ‘yes, yes, we’ll get you a pony’. He had absolutely no idea what he was taking on. Now we have 40. We have a great team at Caledonia Dressage Horses. Previously Rachel Murray was a gamekeeper, she also breeds and trains gun dogs. Brian Green was also a gamekeeper and had heavy horses for forestry logging. And Conor Macleod has worked all his life with horses. We’re so lucky to have found such a talented team locally. At first I bred eventers and showjumpers as well as dressage horses. But I found I preferred breeding the dressage horses. In my opinion, the dressage ability is more clearly heritable in a foal. It was an easier market and a more interesting market as well. So I just gradually moved away from the jumpers and the eventers. I could write a book about selecting the right horses. First, you need exceptional conformation: they need to be well built for the job. So, they need to be functionally correct, have good limbs, a good body shape, and exceptional movement. Dressage horses also need high trainability. That doesn’t always mean something quiet and easy – if you think of a top athlete, they also need a degree of grit and determination.
They should also come from families with a record of producing very good horses. We concentrate on having top quality broodmares from very good families. Then we look at using the best stallions we can in Europe to breed them with. You’d always try to avoid putting a supersharp stallion over a super-sharp mare, and vice versa. It’s a balancing act. We started off small. From the 12 we started with, we ended up with a small core of four mares. Some years we’d breed two, some years we’d breed four. Some years we didn’t breed at all. From the first filly we bred from the original stock came a foal called Don Caledonia. He’s now ridden by a super rider called Hannah Biggs, and recently won his first international competition. Another we bred, Sweet Caledonia, is ridden by para rider Natasha Atkinson. Together they were reserves for the Paralympic team in Rio and were selected for the British European team. It’s difficult to do it from the Highlands. People could go to five or six studs in Gloucestershire within an hour of each other. It takes commitment to come and see us. But the scenery, the culture, the ‘Caledonia’ name is part of our identity. It makes us more memorable. But that’s secondary to the quality of the horses. Our biggest market is England. But last season we sold eight foals to Europe, which is just amazing. That’s where most of the best horses have been produced so to be able to sell dressage horses to Europe is like selling sand to the Arabs. Breeding a great foal is like alchemy. You can have a wonderful stallion and an amazing mare, but there’s still an element of luck. You use your judgement: you have to know the weaknesses of the mare and the weakness of the stallion and hope that putting them together makes the greatest combination possible. There’s a little bit of magic in there, as well.
reeding a great foal is like alchemy eqymagazine.com 2019
EQUESTRIAN CENTRE LTD
Brechin Castle Equestrian Centre Ltd (BCECL) is set in 25 acres of Angus countryside, less than a mile from the city of Brechin and within yards of the main A90 trunk road. The business was formed in 2014 when Mark and Susan Johnson purchased the assets of a failing yard, later adding the Brechin Show Ground whose facilities are available to Liveries. BCECL’s underlying principle is to provide safe, healthy and fun facilities for horses and people. As part of our animal welfare programme we have frequent scheduled visits from local Vets, enabling liveries to schedule vaccinations etc. without incurring call-out charges. BCECL is run by a General Manager and 2 full time staff, and has a policy of utilising local suppliers and services, wherever possible. Facilities at the Yard include a kitchen and comfy seating area in the ‘Bothy’ – future projects include an indoor shower for horses and horse walker. Stables are spacious, liveries are able to make use of a large and well-ventilated rug hanging area, and have allocated saddle and bridle racks. Paddocks are large, with electriﬁed boundaries and secured gates and have water drinkers.
01356 623777 /Brechin-Castle-Equestrian-Centre-Ltd email@example.com www.bcecl.co.uk
A range of activities are encouraged with an onsite 70x20 outdoor school, an outdoor jump arena and hacking across the grounds of Dalhousie Estate. There is also access to an adjacent Captain Mark Phillips designed cross-country course – and which is currently being updated. BCECL has a regular and on-going programme of clinics run by visiting instructors, Dressage and Show-jumping Leagues and competitions.
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Zoe Thomas (BSc, ESMT, DOT, HND, HNC, ITEC) has been qualified for ten years as an Equine Sports Therapist. She has worked in Ireland including stints abroad to Australia, New Zealand, and Germany working with racehorses, show jumpers, riding clubs, pony clubs and the senior Irish event team. Zoe has always had an affinity with animals, in particular with dogs and horses. She has now moved back to Scotland to practice in both Scotland and England. Here Zoe talks to us about the importance of muscle care in horses:
Horses are athletes and as in the case of human athletes, rugby players, football players, jockeys etc they must have their bodies looked after. Horses (unlike humans) will keep going and endure a massive amount of pain, however this will catch up with them and the horse will not reach optimum performance. The musculoskeletal system is the animal’s largest body component, over 60% of the horse. This system gives the ability of movement. When you look at a horse you judge it largely on its movement, this movement is dictated by the musculoskeletal system. Therefore often when a horse’s normal movement changes it is very important to look at the muscle system. The horse’s muscle system is often overlooked as drugs can be administered so that the horse can still work, however doing this only masks the problem and allows it to manifest. This will ultimately lead to the following problems: • Muscle tightness transmits to surrounding muscle groups, so for example, shoulder tension could be transmitted to the forearm, resulting in extra stress and decreased flexibility in the tendons
• Muscles react to stress and trauma (which can be caused by overuse, insufficient warm up or warm down etc) by contracting and tightening causing stress on joints and surrounding muscle groups • Minor muscle injuries become apparent long after their conception (often by change in attitude, decreased performance and lameness) by which time they might have already caused more damage. Prompt attention to muscle soreness not only enhances a horse’s performance but may also decrease the chance of future injuries. • Muscle injuries do often not show up in an X-ray • Muscle injuries are often cumulative and when a muscle is tense the horse will compensate by overusing other muscles in an attempt to avoid pain, causing these muscles to become sore as well. A horse, just like a human will try to avoid pain by changing the way he or she moves, shorter and less flowing movements which in turn results in decrease of rhythm of movement, or worse, lameness. If a horse is treated regularly, as all top sports professionals are, it is inexpensive and also reduces the risk of further injury.
Some signs of muscle pain: • Sour behaviour especially when rugs get removed / saddle comes near/ girth being tightened • Prefers one rein • Lateral stiffness • Reluctance to canter on one lead • Hollow backed • High headed • Head shaking • Lack of poll flexion and bend • Cold back when tacked up • Head tilting • Have an uneven stride length • Holding the tail to one side These are just a few signs of muscle discomfort to look out for. Benefits of Equine Sports Therapy are: • Increases performance and flexibility • Enhances muscle tone • Relieves muscle spasm and tension • Improves circulation • Improves recovery time • Relieves muscle soreness • Promotes general wellbeing For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07703 630311
*The Veterinary Act: Full permission from the owners vet is required before any treatment is undertaken as all participants are required to work within the rules of the Veterinary Act
TRUDE AIRD – TOP TEN SHOWING TIPS
Dressed to the nines: Austin the nine-yearold is ready to turn heads in the show ring.
Stealing the show From shiny coats to perfect pedicures, Scottish grooming expert Trude Aird shares her top tips for success in the ring BY MELANIE SCOTT
rude Aird is one of Scotland’s best known grooms, working tirelessly behind the scenes to get her family’s horses looking just right for the show ring. She helped produce horses with her husband James when he was showing hunter and showjumping before working with her daughter Kirsty, where her expert eye and attention to detail helped Kirsty win two classes at the Horse of the Year Show last year. But it all could have been so different for Trude who says her parents were against her working with horses because they thought they were too dangerous. Encouraged to also have a ‘proper job’ as a back up, Trude ended up working offshore in the oil drilling department of transport and cold storage company Christian Salvesen. Drawn back to her true passion, Trude returned to working with horses after two years. After meeting James, she decided that competing wasn’t for her and discovered that her real enjoyment came from grooming. ‘When they go out and we’re satisfied with the way that they’re looking, even if they don’t win I still get a lot of satisfaction.’ Based in Fife, Trude is able to turn her hand (or should that be hoof?) to turn out any horse or pony correctly – appropriate for the style of the class and for the breed standard. Despite easing up on the heavier work, Trude says full retirement is still a long way off. Sharing her wealth of experience with EQy, here are some top tips for success in the ring:
Paperwork Donâ€™t miss the closing date for entries. Although many shows now take entries on the day (at an additional cost) many will set a closing date a week or so before that, and some might even be months before. Check if you or your horse need to be members of a particular society or club before entering. Also make sure your horseâ€™s passport is correct and equine flu vaccinations are up to date. eqymagazine.com 2019
TOP CLASS FACILITIES AND COMPETITIVE PRICES At LK Sport Horses we offer Full Livery, Competition Livery or Sales Livery which is suitable for those who wish their horses to be looked after each day by ourselves and our professional staff.
Horses on full livery may use the horse walker and enjoy full use of the indoor and outdoor school unless it is in use for lessons or clinics. • Feeding (does not include specialist feeds or supplements) • Daily care (mucking out, rug changes, turnout & catching) • Daily exercise in one of the following forms ( horse walker or turnout) Supervision for farrier & vet visits for your horse.
Competition Livery is an exclusive livery service and enjoys all the benefits of full livery with additional services that includes but are not limited to; • Leo Lorimer to provide professional schooling according to the needs of the horse • Clipping and trimming • Plaiting and pre competition preparation As part of this service we will liaise closely with you towards any competitions or other goals you have for your horse. Leo will be on hand to discuss your horse’s progress and assist you with any issues you may have.
Sales livery will be as Full Livery with the possible addition of aspects of Competition Livery and is available by arrangement.
New Mains, Tillyochie, Kinross KY13 0NL Tel: 07785 628 145 or 07845 327 648 email@example.com Follow us on Facebook for Clinic and Horses for sale. /lkSportsHorses
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Main image: Snug as a bug in a rug. Below left: Nylon rugs help keep your horse clean and tidy. Below right: Good food makes for shiny coats and healthy skin.
Rugs A rug with a nylon lining next to your horse’s skin helps prevent rubs and keeps the hair lying well. Although I am not a fan of full-neck rugs I do use a lightweight one before show day. It helps keep them clean and stops the mane from becoming too unruly, especially if your horse objects to a lycra bodysuit. They are easily turned around in the wash and can be used all year round.
Feeding A well-fed horse will stand out from the crowd (though be sure not to overindulge it). No amount of washing can make up for the healthy skin and coat that comes from good quality feed. We have used Connolly’s Red Mills feed for almost 20 years and it hasn’t failed us. Rude health is an attractive trait in the show ring.
‘A full-neck lightweight rug helps keep them clean and stops the mane from becoming too unruly’
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Main image: There’s no such thing as a bad hair day when Trude’s involved. Below left: Judges are always on hand to offer advice. Below right: Grey-haired coats require extra grooming care.
Trimming and tidying You simply can’t beat a well pulled tail but it does take months to perfect. Start early in the season and remember to take care of manes that are regularly plaited – don’t over pull them early on. Protect both the tail and mane when travelling. I tend to use a tail bag for travelling to help keep tails clean. Trimming is best left closer to show day as it will produce well-defined silhouettes.
Advice Know what is expected in the class you are competing in. Attending a show to watch what is going on can really help. Never be afraid to ask for advice, although do pick your moment. Judges and professionals are generally happy to help, but be patient and approach them when they don’t look too busy.
‘You simply can’t beat a well pulled tail but it does take months to perfect’
Greys Keep greys clean all the time. A build up of stable stains can be almost impossible to remove, especially on mares with light coloured tails. There are a variety of tail bags on the market if you can’t get away with keeping it plaited. If you have stubborn stains on show day use neat purple shampoo sparingly and leave it on.
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Main image: Tack should always complement your horse. Below left: Trude opts for traditional tack. Below right: Farriers are a font of knowledge to tap into.
Tack Traditional always looks best and I always go for a dark havana colour. Make sure it is well fitted and in the correct position (many showjumpers prefer their saddles placed well forward, but this is not a good look in the show ring). Use a neutral coloured, neat numnah. Remember your tack should complement your horse.
Never try and shoe the day before the show â€“ always try and keep ahead of the game. Stud holes are a good option to have when conditions are against you. I would clean the stud holes (tap out and check the stud thread beforehand) and fill with Vaseline and cotton wool the day before the show. Make sure to tell your farrier what shows you are planning to attend and use their expertise to the full.
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Main image: Preparing ahead of time will make the experience all the more enjoyable. Below left: Coconut oil shampoo is a good option for washing your horse before a show.
Washing Your horse should be spotless for the show and if it is necessary to bath I would recommend a coconut oil shampoo. After rinsing well, brush coat gloss through the coat and tail. Apply a tail bandage for a couple of hours and a clean rug. Keep white socks clean by bandaging them up.
Give yourself time to breathe. Arrive at the show in plenty of time to collect numbers, check out the show field layout and see where your rings are and what the conditions are like. That way you will know if the ground is slippery or if there are hazards around the ring (like flags or other animals). Don’t try anything new on show day – it’s always best to try things out at home first. While never using a different saddle or bridle on show day is obvious, many horses are sensitive and even a new show numnah can cause problems and slip. Hoof gloss applied to clean feet is a good substitute to hoof oil. It will save some time and is especially good when competing on artificial surfaces. A little baby oil on your horse’s eyes, nose, muzzle and under the tail keeps them looking fresh, but avoid using it all over the body as it will attract dust. Finally, relax and enjoy the ride – there will always be another competition day around the corner. Take on board any comments and suggestions from the judges about how you can improve and come back stronger next time.
‘Relax and enjoy the ride – there will always be another competition day around the corner’
CLAVERHOUSE RIDING SCHOOL
Neigh limits For the kids who go to Claverhouse Equestrian Centre, it’s a place that looks beyond labels and brings people together BY STEPHANIE ABBOT IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN
t’s a horrible thing, to feel as though you don’t quite fit in. To struggle to find a place beyond the safety net of home that allows you to be exactly who you are without fear of being mocked or judged. It can be especially difficult when you’re a child searching for such a place. For many of the young people who go to Claverhouse Equestrian Centre, they’ve found that sense of belonging. While the school has riders of all ages, levels and backgrounds, its ethos of inclusion and accessibility is what sets it apart from other yards. Owned and run by Donna Ker-ramsay and her husband Colin since 2008, Claverhouse is located in Dundee. It is both a riding school and livery yard, and is home to around 80 horses. Having been around horses from a young age, Donna is still a competitive rider with a passion for helping young or troubled horses whilst teaching other people how to ride responsibly. For Donna, it’s particularly important that anyone with an interest in horses
feels they can pursue it. While there is often a view that horse riding is reserved only for the wealthy, Donna was keen to make Claverhouse accessible to everyone. ‘There’s a sense of community here and people that don’t always fit in at other places or don’t have much of a social life can have one here,’ she says. ‘It’s the same with the kids. A lot of kids who don’t fit in at school and might get bullied, they come here and everybody is treated the same. ‘There isn’t that thing of whether you’re cool or you’re not cool. Everybody just mucks in together. It’s a level playing field and there’s no snobbery.’ Because the school doesn’t operate a ‘one size fits all’ approach to lessons, those with learning difficulties, autism and ADHD are given the flexibility needed to build both their confidence and skills. Each weekend around 80 kids come to Claverhouse, keeping the staff busy but also creating a fun and vibrant atmosphere. As a way of helping new riders who are on the autistic
‘It’s a level playing field and there’s no snobbery’ 88
Best of pals: Stuart WatsonLang and his noble steed Buzz.
CLAVERHOUSE RIDING SCHOOL
Opposite clockwise from top: Ava-Grave Ogg enjoys some time in the saddle; Nathan Dunne and Teigan Getty; Jay Hadden; Oliver Robbie. Above: Stuart and Buzz share a special bond.
spectrum and may experience sensory issues, they’re given the opportunity to pick up a riding hat and take it home with them so they can familiarise themselves with wearing it. For Donna, it’s about being adaptable and removing any potential barriers. ‘We do group lessons and we do private lessons as well. Some of the kids on the autistic spectrum will receive a discounted rate for lessons in quieter times. We allocate extra time to those lessons and it’s just one-on-one. They come in, meet the instructor and get to know the ponies, then do their lesson at their own pace. It’s not just in and out, they’re eased into it. If they don’t want to ride they can come and just do a grooming lesson so they get to know the ponies before they get on.’ Donna’s efforts to provide more opportunities for young people in the area and offer a safe haven where they can feel at ease have now been recognised on a national scale. At the 2019 Scottish Rural Awards, Donna was the recipient of the Rural Hero Award and was commended for her commitment to creating a welcoming and inclusive
environment for riders of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. For 15-year-old Stuart Watson-Lang, who is autistic and has ADHD, discovering Claverhouse has brought a tremendous amount of positivity to his and his family’s lives. ‘He was really struggling to keep focused on anything, he couldn’t find something, a sport or anything that he would stick to,’ says Stuart’s mum Sara. Fast forward two and a half years and two horses later. ‘Now we’ve got a son who really wants to work with horses,’ says Sara. ‘He wants to know what exams he needs to sit so he can do that, so it’s been lovely for us to sit back and watch him enjoy something.’ To give him a taste of his dream career, Claverhouse have agreed to let Stuart spend his week of work experience there so that he can get stuck in to everything involved with maintaining and caring for all the horses and facilities at the yard. This is something the yard tries to accommodate as much as possible, particularly for local children who may have been out of school for a while as a result of bullying and are on
working with you and your vet to provide complete care The Dick Vet Equine Hospital is one of the UK’s leading Specialist Veterinary Centres with highly trained veterinarians and world class facilities. Our goal is to promote equine welfare through excellence in clinical veterinary practice, teaching and research and we pride ourselves in the level of personal care we provide to you and your horse. We accept cases referred to us from veterinary practices across the UK. We have dedicated departments covering:
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The R(D)SVS is a not-for-profit organisation: fee levels are set to cover our costs. The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
‘He’s quite happy to sit and eat his lunch with his horse Buzz’ a work plan to try and integrate them back into education. Thankfully for Stuart, Claverhouse has provided an escape from some of the difficulties he faces in his school life. ‘He has experienced severe bullying and he’s still going through quite a bit of bullying at school, but Claverhouse is making him a bit more resilient because he’s got something to come home to,’ says Sara. ‘We’ve said to him “you know you have a responsibility, you’ve got somebody that needs you and that you have to be there every day”, and he does do it.’ That somebody is five-yearold gelding Buzz. Standing at just over 15 hands, Buzz is the ideal horse for Stuart to grow with and compete on. While some people may feel an understandable touch of nerves when handling animals as big as horses, Stuart’s mum says her son had no such fear. ‘He became comfortable quite quickly with them, in fact to the point where we sometimes have to say to him “whoah, wait a minute, that can kick!”’ In some ways Stuart is even more comfortable with horses than with people. ‘He doesn’t always like too much noise around about him and he’s quite happy to sit and eat his lunch with Buzz, which means he’s comfortable. The staff at Claverhouse let him do it and don’t criticise him for it.’ There’s also plenty of work for Stuart’s mum to do as parents and families are encouraged to help out. ‘As parents we’re very much included in Claverhouse. They’ve had me mucking out, weeding, grooming.
Left from top: The kids of Claverhouse fill hay nets; Donna gets tacked up and ready; when it comes to horses, Donna doesn’t muck about. eqymagazine.com 2019
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‘Horses are not a commodity – we must truly appreciate them’
That’s what it’s all about there, including everyone in the family. We now know other families and Stuart can see that so he feels safe and comfortable.’ Donna’s own passion for horses means she is fully committed to helping all manner of horses, including those who might not have had the greatest of starts in life. ‘I love producing and riding young horses,’ she says. ‘I think how a horse is introduced to their ridden career is the foundation for everything thereafter. Horses have a natural desire to please and are incredibly tolerant animals, although they are often taken advantage of through a lack of understanding and knowledge.’
With this in mind, Donna and the rest of the team at Claverhouse are keen to instil good practices among all the riders. ‘My motto is the horses welfare always comes first,’ says Donna. ‘Horses are not a commodity – we must truly appreciate them. I believe the basics in riding and horse care are of paramount importance. This is what I teach all the riders and owners at our centre from day one, and I believe this sets us apart from other centres.’ For young people like Stuart and their families, Claverhouse has become a home away from home, a place for gaining skills as well as friends – four-legged ones included. Donna Ker-ramsay’s strong belief that anyone who wants to ride can, and that everyone who does must fully respect and appreciate each animal, is a truly commendable ethos. For more information visit: claverhouseequestrian.co.uk or call 01382 504600.
Snap happy: Donna pauses to pose.
Teccie triumphs With technology developing at a meteoric pace, here are six gizmos designed to take equestrian performance to the next level BY SANDRA LOW-MITCHELL, STEPHANIE ABBOT & ROSIE MORTON
Above left: The blue light helps mares cycle and conceive earlier in the season. Above right: The mask is drug- and hormone-free.
Created by Dr Barbara Anne Murphy, Head of Equine Science at UCD, The Equilume Light Mask is an innovative piece of equipment aimed at maximising health, performance and breeding efficiency. First launched in 2014, customers have reported benefits including timely gestation, healthy foal weights and success in getting barren and maiden mares to cycle and conceive earlier (as with stabling under lights, but with the added benefits of improved health and fertility that 24/7 turnout brings). The Equilume Light Mask is an individual headpiece for horses that provides timed, lowlevel blue light to a single eye to effectively deliver all the benefits associated with long summer days. Scientifically validated and veterinary evaluated, mobile blue light therapy affords owners the benefits of ease of management, and horses the freedom of natural behaviour and improved health and well-being. The Equilume Light Mask permits efficient light management whether horses are indoors, outdoors or on the road, and it ensures early reproductive success, maintenance of coat condition and summer vigour for competition animals.
The mask does not contain any drugs or hormones but instead uses a high efficiency precision blue LED array with light diffuser. The light is delivered at a specific wavelength automatically each day, no drugs, no hormones, just gentle light therapy. The eye cup is waterproof so horses can be kept outdoors. Outdoor living has proven that field-kept mares are happier, and happy mares have greater success with all aspects of fertility and pregnancy. Dr Barbara Anne Murphy completed her PhD in veterinary science at the prestigious Gluck Equine Research Centre in Kentucky. An expert in the field of equine chronobiology, she regularly speaks at international veterinary conferences and contributes frequently to equine publications in relation to the influence of light on equine reproduction and performance. A native of West Cork, Barbara drives the R&D component of Equilume, constantly striving to find new, innovative ways to improve health and performance in horses. Prices start from ÂŁ387. For more information and to buy an Equilume mask visit equilume.com
TheraPlate UK You may have heard of therapy plates for humans, but what about Theraplates for horses? With technology developing at a rapid pace, treatments for equine health problems and injuries are becoming ever more sophisticated. Developed over 30 years, Theraplate UK has launched a product to aid recovery and sports conditioning in horses of all shapes and sizes. Not to be confused with vibration plates or ‘whole body vibration’ therapies, the Theraplate’s smooth mechanism boosts the horse’s natural healing abilities by using small, circular movements to improve circulation. What’s more, it has been found to relieve stress and anxiety, offering an all-round R&R experience for beloved pet ponies, top dressage mares or indeed thoroughbred stallions. Fast becoming a popular everyday treatment for horses, the plate’s Wave Vortex Therapy encourages the muscles to rhythmically contract and release, pumping blood around the body. This reduces the risk of injury, improves healing time by up to 50% and promotes hoof growth and bone development.
An all-rounder: Theraplates are used for conditioning, recovery, injury prevention and overall wellbeing. Prices start at £7,995 plus VAT.
More than 200 clinical studies have been carried out using Theraplates, as well as trials in university veterinary and physical therapy programmes. Many of these case studies have shown up to a 40% improvement over traditional treatments or stall rest, rendering it increasingly popular among trainers and rehab specialists across the country. Some horsey Theraplate patients have already been treated for the likes of osteoarthritis, bucked shins, tendon and ligament injuries, and even chronic conditions like navicular and EPM. The plate can withstand up to 2,500 pounds and is easy to transport. It is controlled by a simple panel, making it straightforward to monitor the motors at all times. The frame comes with a lifetime guarantee and every purchase comes with a money-back guarantee. Financing options are also available. For those wanting to try before they buy, customers can also purchase a three-week trial before committing to a Theraplate. Find out more at theraplateuk.com or call 0800 955 2016. 97
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Flex-on Made in France, the Flex-on stirrup was designed and built to suit all equestrian sports, including cross country, jumping, dressage, polo, horse ball, endurance and trekking. It has a lightweight design which is strong and complete with a shock absorbing system whereby the tread rests on elastomer springs with ‘grip’ and ‘ultra-grip’ technologies. There’s also an opportunity to personalise your stirrup with a special location for a personalized sticker, a choice of frame colour, footrest, tread and shock absorbers. The history of Flex-on is primarily the story of how Laurent Bordes met his wife Caroline, an experienced rider. The stirrup was created in early May 2011 during the La Baule competition. It resulted from pooling the skills of Laurent Bordes, director of Bordes, a specialist in railway and aerospace subcontracting, and those of his wife Caroline, an experienced CSO rider (gallop 7). The pair saw a gap in the market for stirrups that were both strong and comfortable and came up with the concept for Flex-on. It is now the only one on the market with a custom configuration. Flex-on stirrups are available from two different ranges: the aluminium and the green composite, with the latter starting from 169€. For more information visit www.flex-on.fr
Bridle When it comes to bridles, the sheer volume of choice can be overwhelming for any horse owner. But at the top of most people’s priority list are three things: comfort, quality and functionality. That’s where Montar’s latest bridles really hit the mark. Their new range – including the Excellence, Normandie and Monarch – are ergonomic bridles made with ECO Sedgwick leather and stainless steel buckles. Durable and pretty to look at, but more importantly, comfy for our beloved horses, the browbands come in a range of colourful designs and the outer loops are lined with rubber, meaning loose straps when riding are a distant memory. Starting with the Excellence bridle, its noseband has soft curves that avoid pressure on the sensitive mouth and jaw area, while the backstrap keeps it in the correct place when riding. The leather browband has soft padding to protect the bridge of the nose, and its shape highlights the expression of the horse. The Normandie, which has a detachable flash strap on the noseband, has an open headpiece that lets the bridle adjust to the unique shape of every horse. The V-gap and soft padding at the sides of the bridle mean that the neck is not restricted, allowing even sensitive horses to relax and focus on the task at hand. Meanwhile, the Monarch has an adjustable strap at the back of the headpiece, avoiding pressure on the poll. It also means the angle of the cheekpieces fit snugly along the horse’s ears and cheeks. Its noseband avoids pressure on the mouth and jaw, and allows space for the facial nerves to move freely. Phone Sally Bacon on 07989297899 for more. eqymagazine.com 2019
NATURE’S LIGHT Delivered using smart Stable Lights and mobile Light Masks. Maximise health, performance and breeding efficiency.
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A professionally run livery yard based in the heart of West Lothian, offering full livery, DIY livery, training & sales livery. ◆ 2019 HORSESCOTLAND PARTICIPATION COACH OF THE YEAR ◆ INDOOR & OUTDOOR ARENA ◆ HORSE WALKER ◆ SOLARIUM ◆ GALLOP TRACK ◆ ON-SITE UKCC LEVEL 3 BE & BS COACH ◆ FANTASTIC OFF-ROAD HACKING ◆ ONSITE SUPERVISION 24/7
Our facilities are second to none. We are a very friendly yard, where we all support one another in training and at shows. For more information:
South Couston Stud, Armadale Road, Westﬁeld, West Lothian EH48 4LG /eliteequestrianserives Tel: 07872113304 Email: Martindarnott@gmail.com 100
Salt Box Horses can be troubled by any number of skin, respiratory and sinus problems, but how many treatments out there are 100% natural, non-invasive and drug-free? Alleviating some of the most common equine health issues and paving the way for chemical-free therapy is the Newmarket Equine Salt Therapy System – an innovative treatment with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. Steering clear of chemical-laden lotions and potions and invasive procedures, Darrell Torrens is spearheading a ground-breaking salt therapy system. After seeing the positive effects of salt therapy on humans – combating conditions like asthma, bronchitis, COPDs and cystic fibrosis – Darrell sought to replicate that in the equine world. The horses enter a therapy box which has salt enriched air. Tiny salt particles are inhaled, helping heal ailments from the inside out. The dry salt loosens any mucus in the base of the lungs, easing respiratory problems, and subsequently allows greater volumes of oxygen to be passed around the body. This, in turn, increases energy levels, reduces inflammation and promotes a healthy immune system. Depending on the severity of the health issue, the length of the sessions will be tailored to suit each horse. Newmarket Equine Salt Therapy have an on-site rehabilitation and therapy centre giving owners the option to take their horses to therapy if installing a salt box at home or in their yard is not possible. Whether it’s your hacking pony, much-loved pet or indeed your prized showjumper that’s needing a helping hand, salt therapy success stories are coming thick and fast. newmarketequinesalttherapysystem.co.uk
Avant You can make life at the yard a whole lot easier thanks to this green machine. Made by Avant Tecno, The AVANT compact loader is a versatile all-round machine which can be used in horse stables and around arenas. An ingenious design allows monotonous tasks such as poo-picking, moving jumps around the arena and sweeping to be carried out quickly and efficiently. There are 200 attachments available for the loader and each can be removed and attached without difficulty. The range features machines from small loaders to larger models. They are available in petrol and diesel models, LPG and even electric. The AVANT of articulated telescopic loaders are compact, durable and adaptable. They are stable, easy to drive and turn evenly, without causing damage to sensitive surfaces such as lawns or paved areas. With a low operating weight, simple and economical maintenance, these machines work well for both domestic or professional use. Avant machines have been available in the UK for the past 20 years. Avant Tecno (UK), based near Thetford in rural Norfolk, has now sold in excess of 5,000 compact loaders to a broad spectrum of end users including farmers, landscape gardeners, local authorities, horse owners and private individuals across the world. To see the full range of AVANT loaders visit their website: avanttecno.com or phone Ken Wallace on 01241 830240.
The Newmarket Equine Salt Therapy System Bringing well-being to your horse
The Newmarket Equine Salt Therapy System is innovative in the ﬁeld of equine therapy and is the only medically certiﬁed controlled device on the market. It cleanses from the inside giving great results on the outside. The dry salt used also has the following properties and can assist with improving Respiratory, Sinus and Skin issues: Above from left: Keep calm and canter on; Darrell Torrens with John Whitaker; a happy horse. Opposite: Salt therapy; polo players.
• Antibacterial • Anti-inﬂammatory • Mucolytic effects – loosens excessive mucus and speeds up mucocilliary transport • Removes pathogen agents (airborne pollen) • Reduces the need for antibiotics • Easier breathing • Improves lung function • Clears mucus from the lungs • Increases the resistance to respiratory tract disease • Strengthens immune system • Helps with skin issues (Ringworm) and skin allergies & conditions • Overall well-being to the animal
In simple terms, when your animal receives dry salt therapy they inhale the dry salt enriched air deep into the lungs where the greatest healing can be achieved. The inhaled dry salt loosens the mucus which begins to clear over a period of sessions (strictly maximum one session per day per horse) and any inﬂammation is reduced which makes more room in the airways for the animal to breathe and with the skin being the largest organ of elimination, it reduces inﬂammation on the skin and improves the circulation of the skin surface. There are many beneﬁcial reasons why salt therapy is good for your animal. The salt is 100% natural, medical grade, is drug free and holds amazing properties – it is anti-inﬂammatory, anti-bacterial & anti-fungal.
How does it work?
How many sessions?
The system allows the microscopic particles of salt to be dispersed into the air, the tiny particles are inhaled into the airways and deep into the lungs aiding mucus release and reducing inflammation within the airways allowing these to widen allowing for easier breathing. This is especially beneficial for lower and upper respiratory problems including COPD/RAO and coughing which can be caused by allergies and infection. Even with a ‘pick me up’ session, stamina and endurance are increased and performance much improved. Also during therapy the particles of salt cover the skin, (your horse will be rug free during therapy) this being the largest organ of elimination, the skin naturally absorbs the salt enabling it to assist with alleviating skin issues such as sweet itch, ringworm, general allergies. Because this reduces inflammation and reduces the aggravated areas where rubbing and itching have taken place, your horse will feel less stressed, less moody and feel much calmer. New hair regrowth will occur where rub marks have been. During the salt therapy sessions you may see signs that the micro particles are reaching down into the airways by seeing discharge/drip from one or both nostrils, this may be green or yellowish, this could be infection and white discharge could be caused through allergies such as pollen, dust or hay. A clear drip is healthy and this can be nice to see too. Horses find salt therapy relaxing and they seem to look forward to their follow sessions (if required).
Skin – Depending on the severity of the skin issue, an initial cleanse of 3 x 20 minute sessions over 3 consecutive days is recommended, for deep set skin issues 5 consecutive days. After monitoring the results, it can be assessed whether more sessions may be required followed by top ups throughout the year. With the improved circulation within the skin and a feeling of well-being inside, a glossy coat will show through. Respiratory – With respiratory issues again it would be the initial cleanse of 3 consecutive days and monitor the progress of the horse. Top ups – It would be advised to have seasonal or periodic top ups depending on condition of your horse, this will be discussed during the therapy session. Pick me ups – ‘A pick me up’ is designed to give your horse a bit of a boost in his step by allowing the salt therapy to open up the airways and cleanse his respiratory system. This is a one x 20 minute session (after completing the initial 3 x 20 minute sessions at another time) this can be carried out before or after an event or just for the well-being factor if you believe your horse isn’t quite right. Never allow more than one salt therapy session in 24hrs and this should never be tried even if you think it could produce faster results. Newmarket Equine Salt Therapy System produces amazing results. Some severe skin issues can seem untouchable with lotions and potions, yet with the Newmarket system you will see great benefit. Salt therapy can work alongside your vet’s advice or treatments, it is a complimentary, choice therapy and it is 100% natural and drug free.
INSURANCE FOR RIDERS
Risky business Riding horses is an inherently dangerous pursuit, and with most participants – even casual riders – taking a tumble at some stage, we look at what constitutes adequate insurance BY MORAG BOOTLAND IMAGE SHUTTERSTOCK
‘If you spend enough hours in the saddle you will fall off’
n this world nothing can be said to be certain, other than death and taxes.’ So said Benjamin Franklin, but as he regularly travelled on horseback I think that he should have known better. There’s always been another certainty for me, and for anyone else who participates in riding horses for that matter. It’s inevitable that if you spend enough hours in the saddle you will fall off. Riding on the road is fraught with danger and all too often we hear of accidents caused by vehicles passing too close to riders, posing a huge risk to human and horse. According to the British Horse Society at least one person is injured every day while riding on Britain’s roads. But even my favourite pastime of hacking out in the hills can result in a fall. As a rider there are underfoot conditions to think of, plus the chance that your horse can spook and leave you sitting in the mud. There’s the risk of low flying aircraft in many areas of Scotland, and when other horses are added to the mix there’s always the chance that another animal could injure you or your horse. That’s not to mention the risks involved in competing. Following a spate of fatal cross-country accidents in 2016 which saw the deaths of 17-year-old Olivia Inglis at Scone Horse Trials in Australia, Caitlyn Fisher (19) at Sydney International Horse Trials and British rider Philippa Humphreys (33) at the Jersey Fresh International ThreeDay Event in Michigan, one researcher documented rider deaths in all levels of eventing worldwide. She identified that between 1993 and 2015 there had been an average of 2.68 deaths each year from eventing. Figures on how many people are injured while riding are harder to come by as injuries vary from bruises and sprains to fractures and paralysis, but with the first stage of the British Equestrian Trade Association National Equestrian Survey 2019 showing an increase in horse riding across the UK over the last five years there are more people than ever who are at risk. It is thought that there are around three million riders in the UK right now, 1.8 million of whom describe themselves as regular riders, compared with just 1.3 million in 2014, which is a pretty sharp rise. The greatest increase has been among people in the 25- to 44-year-old age bracket. As a child I regularly took tumbles from ponies. These were caused by a multitude of different factors. Lack of experience, lack of concentration, lack of fear and generally being a little too gung ho. Nowadays I’m a bit more experienced, a bit more cautious, and a lot less gung ho. But that doesn’t take away the risk factor. The repercussion of an injury to anyone – and this especially applies to those in that 25- to 44-year-old age
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range – could prove catastrophic. Many will have jobs or families and if they can’t work or look after their children a fall can prove disastrous. If you have an accident and someone else is at fault then you may find that you have a case for a personal injury claim. This could be caused by anything from a car passing too close, to equipment at a riding school not being up to safety standards. But if there is no third party involved then you will need to have your own personal accident insurance in place to cover any loss of earnings that you might incur. If you are in permanent employment then you will be entitled to sick pay through your employer, but if you work for yourself or on a freelance basis it’s highly likely that you won’t have the same safety net. That’s exactly what happened to Julia Welstead when after 51 years of riding she fell from a friend’s horse and broke her back. Julia was a very experienced rider, starting out on a donkey called Toffee and then working her way through a variety of ponies, to the Buccleuch Pony Club and Hunt, and then working on cattle stations and as a groom for polo clubs in Australia. On moving back to Scotland Julia, a qualified psychotherapist, was working full-time as a freelance writer and despite not owning her own horse she went riding with friends on a weekly basis.
Hard truth: Injuries sustained from a fall can be life changing.
‘On the day of my accident I was riding the most wonderful and well trained horse I’ve ever been on,’ she says. ‘The incident wasn’t his fault at all. My Mum had just died and the day after her memorial service I felt the need for a good gallop to clear my head. Of course my mind wasn’t on the job at all. After a lovely canter up through a field we decided to jump a wee cross country jump rather than stopping to open the gate. We cleared the jump no bother, landed, and I was aware that I wasn’t sure which way to go afterwards – then my mind went blurry and the next thing I knew I was hitting the deck. It was the oddest and most unnecessary fall of my life. ‘I lay on the ground giggling, with two horses and a human looking down at me saying “what the hell?” but as the minutes ticked by it became clear that I couldn’t get up.’ A dose of morphine, an ambulance ride and an x-ray later, Julia was told that she had broken her back – vertebra L2 (top of the lumbar region) had crushed into four pieces and telescoped into itself. By some miracle all this crushing and collapsing hadn’t severed her spinal column and her legs still worked. ‘I had three weeks in hospital (the very same hospital where my mum had so recently been) when I was not allowed to move from the supine position. It was a very tough time – not least because I couldn’t ‘emote’ as any movement was
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Aross 3 Jet Set stock and hire these bits 4 Rooms with a view for holidays in Fife 6 Speed up healing with this at C and N 9 Royal Highland Agricultural Society Of Scotland 10 Yellow bags! 13 European Society 18 Solar is for ? 19 City of the vet college with top facilities 21 Learn the trade at North Highland 31 Who would help to soothe the ulcers 33 Pharma what helps digestive system 37 British Horse Society 38 Between walk and canter transport 40 For legal matters
Down 41 Ayrshire’s Centre with amazing plans for the future 42 Premier A I Services specialise in this transfer 45 Eugenia Chapman Campbell’s occupation 46 Newmarket’s main ingredient in their therapy 50 Sorbeo pellets are made from this 52 Let’s go karting at 53 Blue light for your brood mares 55 French saddles with Aberdeenshire rep 56 Who turned the page in the horse feed world? 58 Business of the year award went to? 59 Selenium and vitamin E by Horse First 60 Harland and Brown share this 61 Fantastic equestrian facilities Near East Kilbride
1 Saddlery offering 10% discount with EQY2019 code 2 Sporthorse specialist family on a mission 5 A coffee liquor or a great brand of horse feed 7 The town near where you can have a holiday in The Tack Room and The Stables 8 Equine chiropractor 11 The green machine every yard should have 12 Stores throughout Scotland 14 Where you can find Elite equestrian services 15 Peter - the horse feed man 16 UKCC level 2 coach 17 Equihemp produce this oil 20 Sporthorses 22 More Sporthorses 23 Sells lovely gear near Edinburgh 24 Is your farrier this? 25 Versatile stallion standing in
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painful and dangerous. So my early grieving for my Mum was done silently, internally. Not being able to cry made me want to laugh – but of course I couldn’t do that either. ‘Thankfully Wimbledon was on and I managed to prop my phone up and watch, but there were still many long hours of contemplating the error of my ways. After three bedridden weeks I was strapped into a body brace and told to stand up. Another week of tottering around the ward and then I was sent home. I wore the brace for three months and it became my best friend. On the day I took it off I felt very wobbly indeed – no core strength. To regain strength and fitness without too much gravitational pressure on my back, I swam every day for two months.’ Julia’s job was freelance, but full-time, so her entire income came to an immediate halt with no sick pay, no safety net and no promise of a job awaiting her when she recovered. The accident meant that Julia couldn’t work at all for two months, and even once she was home from hospital she couldn’t sit or stand at a desk for more than a few minutes, so writing work was out. ‘What I did manage was to see a few clients each week – I’m also a registered psychotherapist – and I managed to amuse everyone with the necessity that it was me reclining on the couch, while my clients sat upright. ‘Nearly two years later I still can’t sit at a desk for long, and I now mix freelance writing work with more active jobs like painting houses and gardening – unlikely sounding work for someone with a back injury, but I find that it’s much better to be moving and working my core.’ With no insurance in place, Julia admits that she was in financial trouble following her accident, another worry that she could well have done without at this extremely stressful time.
‘My rent was high and the small amount of work I could do wasn’t coming anywhere near to meeting the rent, never mind food. I survived thanks to a small amount of savings, which had been entirely used by the time I recovered.’ The experience was enough to make Julia give up what had been her sport of choice for over half a century. ‘Every day I wiggle my toes and thank my lucky stars that I still can – I could so easily have been wheelchair bound. So I made the decision that, having had over 50 years of great riding, it was a good moment to hang up my hat and turn to other sports. Now I’ve moved to the Hebrides and get my kicks from sea swimming – on the basis that it gives a huge endorphin rush, and I can’t fall off.’ Julia’s story provides real food for thought for anyone who rides regularly and shows just how easily a serious accident can happen even as an experienced, cautious and safety conscious rider. Scouring the internet or contacting insurance companies may be the last thing on your mind the next time you saddle up and head for the hills, but it’s certainly worth taking the time to consider how you would cope financially if you were ever to have a serious riding accident.
‘I wore a brace for three months and it became my best friend’
Happy days: Julia Welstead before the fall which changed her life forever.
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Cover to cover
Kirstin Tait selects six of her favourite equestrian books of the past year The Clydesdale: Workhorse of the World
Perfect Mind: Perfect Ride BY INGA WOLFRAMM KENILWORTH PRESS LTD £16.95
BY MARY BROMILOW BIRLINN £16.99
Bromilow’s study of the iconic Clydesdale takes the reader through the 19th century, when the horses were first used for working, right through to their role in the modern day. The author tells the tale of how people used to rely on these horses in day-to-day life, making this an interesting read for enthusiasts of the breed. The book stitches together pictures, old and new, with enthralling stories of these magnificent and powerful beasts that are so central to our country’s history. It is headed up by a foreword from HRH the Prince of Wales.
Inga Wolframm has brought together the essentials for riders wishing to improve their performance in competition. Throughout are tips on how to develop the mental skills to succeed in the sport: commitment, focus and dogged determination. This book is full to the brim with real experiences and honest truths, telling of how top riders use sports psychology to their advantage. Although targeted for equestrian enthusiasts, Wolframm’s lessons can be applied to all sports. Highlighting the importance of a positive mental attitude, Wolframm’s read is the perfect guide for any aspiring sportsman or woman.
Know Better to Do Better
The Balanced Horse
BY DENNY EMERSON TRAFALGAR SQUARE BOOKS £16.95
BY SYLVIA LOCH KENILWORTH PRESS LTD £25.00
International gold medallist and renowned rider and coach Denny Emerson, who has a riding career spanning nearly 70 years, has compiled a book of all the things he wishes he’d known ‘then’ that he knows now. Emerson candidly recounts mistakes he made in the past and gives readers direction on how to avoid them. Riders of all skill levels can take away useful tips from Emerson’s hard-won knowledge on horsemanship. This is a witty account, giving a true insight into the man who insists that ‘it’s never, ever too late to change, for the good of the horse and for the good of oneself’.
This book details the importance of communication and ‘perfect understanding’ between horse and rider. Totally opposed to the idea of using force and gadgetry in the schooling of horses, Loch demonstrates how to best use the seat, leg and hand to develop a sound relationship between you and your noble steed. Loch also gives valuable tips on how to improve the movement of the horse, stripping riding right back to the basics. She writes in a down-to-earth style, filling it with clear instructions which make this a useful how-to guide for any horse owner.
The Essential Hoof Book: The Complete Guide to Horse Feet BY SUSAN KAUFFMANN TRAFALGAR SQUARE BOOKS £29.95
Two Brains One Aim BY ERIC SMILEY FBHS, ELLIE HUGHES KENILWORTH PRESS £19.95
The hoof is a complex part of the horse and is built to withstand great force – yet it is also one of the most delicate parts of the creature. Kauffmann weaves together the most up-to-date information on hoof care and management, drawing on real experiences of hoof experts from around the globe. She shows the reader what healthy and unhealthy feet look like, and gives a detailed insight into anatomy and treatments. Illustrated with over 400 photographs, this book is a great reference point for equine health.
This book is one for all the riders, coaches and breeders out there. Smiley, a former international event rider, aims to bring the mind of the rider and horse together. He explains that compatibility is essential and that understanding one another is very often the key to success in competitions. The former Olympian demonstrates his unrivalled knowledge of the equine world, taking the reader through dressage, showjumping and eventing in an easy step-by-step style. Lending him a helping hand is the former deputy editor of Eventing Magazine, the amateur eventer Ellie Hughes.
It’s far less mucking about There is a new revolution in horse bedding. Wood pellet bedding now accounts for 20 per cent of the total bedding market in the UK and continues to grow. Gone are the days of mounds of straw and shavings which are timeconsuming to muck out and pretty expensive to buy. Straw usage is in decline as are shavings and as a result, wood pellet bedding has come into its own. Fiona Hill, Marketing Director at Sorbeo Horse Bedding has noticed a steady increase in the market: ‘We
launched our brand in 2014 and since then sales have soared. Savvy horse owners have quickly realised that wood pellets make a fantastic bed for horses. Not only are they quick and easy to muck out but they are highly economical too’ But not all wood pellet bedding is the same, says Fiona. ‘Most imported pellets are made for the energy market and can be dusty made from byproducts (sawdust and old pallets) some contain additives too which hold the pellet together. When they break down, they give the bed a chalky ﬁnish.’
Top tips for good pellet bed: • Check your pellet is made from 100% natural wood - softwood pine is the best. It will be highly absorbent and naturally antiseptic. • Make sure the pellet has no additives. • Go for a UK-produced pellet preferably from sustainable resources. • Pellets subject to 5% VAT are energy pellets. Companies offering this as a payment option are breaking the law. For more information visit the website at: sorbeohorsebedding.co.uk
TheraPlate The Theraplate is a totally unique therapy platform which utilises advanced, patented Wave Vortex Therapy to help support the body’s natural healing mechanism. Revolutionising the rehabilitation of horses as we know it, the Theraplate has been developed over 30 years to be successfully used for sports conditioning and recovery of all shapes and sizes of horses, as well as humans and other animals. Wave Vortex Therapy encourages the muscles to rhythmically contract and release, supporting circulation, healing and general wellbeing. Strong and durable, the Theraplate can hold up to 2,500 pounds but is light enough to be easily transportable with a simple dial system on the control box and plenty of accompanying support online and via the free downloadable app. The exclusive beneﬁts of the Theraplate are enjoyed by satisﬁed users all around the globe, reporting positive
improvements to their horse’s performance and recovery from injury. Driven by extensive equestrian experience, TheraPlate UK are passionate about bringing the Theraplate Revolution to the UK. Dominic Fox, owner of TheraPlate UK, explains, “people may misinterpret it for a ‘vibration ﬂoor’ because it looks similar (a horse stands on it), however it does not vibrate and is truly a unique product.” The Theraplate works by supporting circulation which, in turn, offers numerous health beneﬁts associated with healing time and optimum performance. Supported by veterinarians, rehabilitation specialists and trainers across numerous disciplines including racing, dressage and eventing, the Theraplate is fast becoming a vital part of every horse’s daily routine.
Social Scene 03
Berwickshire Hunt Ball DUNS CASTLE, BERWICKSHIRE 01 Moira Scott, Simon Scott 02 Amanda Swanson, Jeff Swanson 03 Nathalie Findlay, Jonathan Findlay, Kitty Douglas-Hamilton 04 Ellan Hedgar, Mo Thompson, Christopher Olley, Wendy Turnbull, Elizabeth McCririck 05 Caroline Allison, Louise Aitken-Walker, Gary Fortune-Smith, Robyne Fortune-Smith 06 Alasdair Mackenzie, Anna Mackenzie 07 Cressida Shaw, Tom Scrope, Iona Horton, Bastien Estival, Tatiana Bell, John White, Nikita Herfet-Jones, Peter Clark 08 Tim Stockwell, Alice Stockwell, Sarah Billinge, Jeremy Billinge 09 Helen Jeddreys, Caroline Tempest, Lisa Davidson, Jane Lindsay 10 Glen Pringle, Dr Victoria Heckels IMAGES ANGUS BLACKBURN
10 eqymagazine.com 2019
THE LAST WORD
After a spate of avoidable accidents, it’s time for mandatory annual safety checks on all vehicles used to transport horses, says Stuart Simpson
Testing times I
Road safety: Calls are being made for annual equine MOTs to be introduced.
f you own horses, or have friends who do, the chances are that you can recount a scary equine story about a journey to or from a show which ended in near disaster. If you’re really unlucky, the accident could end up in the maiming or death of a horse. Or even worse, harm to the horse’s owner. Sometimes it’s other inconsiderate road users who are to blame. Often it’s strong winds which push highsided horseboxes or trailers off the road. Blowouts are worryingly common. And there’s occasionally driver error too. Occasionally – such as the terrifying time our Commissioning Editor Heddy Forrest’s horse transporter burst into flames on the M9 with two mares inside – it just comes down to plain old bad luck. Statistics suggest that driving a lorry is by far the safest way to transport horses, but there are two obvious problems with that. The first is that if you’ve got a 7.5-tonne truck and you don’t have ‘grandfather rights’ (those of us who passed our tests before 1997 don’t need a licence up to 7.5 tonnes), then you’ll need a C1 test for any vehicle in excess of 3.5-tonnes. The second problem, of course, is the money. The most knackered horsebox will set you back at least a couple of thousand, but realistically it’s likely to be nearer the £10,000 mark.
So it’s no wonder people are tempted to opt for trailers, or even contemplate short cuts. But as the NFU Mutual’s John Burton explained: ‘We find that horse owners spend a huge amount of time, money and effort on their horse’s health, maintenance, training and wardrobes, but very few pay the same amount of attention to the day-to-day condition of vehicles that they transport these animals in.’ Such is the alarm of the insurance industry at the state of many horseboxes that they last year instituted Horsebox Safety Week, which took place between 20-26 August 2018. Tyre blowouts and overloading were two of the main problems, but so too are rotten floors, an issue which bedevils older vehicles. ‘Every year we see cases where horses have to be put to sleep following incidents with rotten floors or ramps, where a horse’s leg has fallen through,’ says Burton. ‘Unfortunately, most of the time these injuries are so severe that it is not possible to save the horse. Most upsettingly, these accidents are completely avoidable.’ Equally avoidable are the cases where lorries not meant to take horses have been adapted, but are often not fit for purpose. One recent incident saw thick plywood sheets screwed between the drivers’ and passenger’s seats and the area in which horses were transported. It all looked safe, but when the driver had to brake sharply, his two horses crashed through the plywood, with one tonne of horseflesh landing in his lap. Luckily no one was injured. There is an obvious solution to this problem. Every vehicle used to transport horses should have a licence which means it is examined annually and certified fit to carry horses, rather than the current MOT, which simply examines roadworthiness. This new test should be imposed no matter whether you transport your horses or ponies in a powered vehicle – be it a purpose-built £500,000 horsebox or a £500 converted Luton van – or whether you use a trailer. An Equine MOT would look at the aspects of transport specific to horse safety. So it would examine whether the tyres are fit to withstand an extra tonne or two of weight, and whether the floors, ramps and the side panels are fit for purpose. Of course nobody wants the expense of an annual equine MOT – even if it should be far quicker and cheaper than a conventional MOT – but then who wants to make the call to the vet to come and put down a horse that has fallen through a rotten wooden floor?
‘Most upsettingly, these accidents are completely avoidable’ 114
Image - Elnur/Shutterstock
Douglas Horse Transport is a UK Horse Transport Business, based in Dumfries in the South West of Scotland. It is family run, with over 60 years experience in the Equine business and the family is known throughout the equine world for their knowledge of horses and safe and comfortable transportation of same. We are fully licensed and insured, Defra Type 2 CertiďŹ ed and hold Driver/Groom CertiďŹ cation of Transport of Horses. Douglas Horse Transport makes weekly journeys throughout the United Kingdom, and one phone call will solve all your transportation problems. Be assured of our personal and dedicated service at all times.
Set h Dou gl a s
North Wallacetown - Brownrigg Loaning - Dumfries - Scotland - DG1 3JU M: 07739 043 943 E: email@example.com
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it’s The British Horse Society
Public liability insurance up to £30 million*
Personal accident insurance up to £10,000*
Be protected, even if your horse causes damage or injury
Accidents happen, but it’s good to know you’ll be covered
Help support what you love Your membership also helps to fund accessibility, safety, welfare and education for all
Join over 100,000 like-minded people. Become a Gold member for just £5.75 per month...
Call us today on 02476 840506 or visit bhs.org.uk/membership *Terms, conditions and territorial limits apply. For full details of the policy restrictions please review the policy wording which is available online or upon request. The British Horse Society is an Appointed Representative of South Essex Insurance Brokers Limited who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The British Horse Society is a Registered Charity Nos. 210504 and SC038516
Scotland's Equestrian Year magazine is back with our mega 2019 issue. Inside you will find a no-holds barred interview with Dutch Olympic Sh...
Published on Apr 11, 2019
Scotland's Equestrian Year magazine is back with our mega 2019 issue. Inside you will find a no-holds barred interview with Dutch Olympic Sh...