Tuesday 28 September 2010

London Horse Network Meeting at Mudchute Equestrian Centre

I took a precious day off work today to attend a meeting organised by the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) and HOOF-ride London's London Horse Network.
The place on the meeting was given to me and I had no idea what to expect but the Agenda seemed interesting. The main idea is to find a sustainable and clever way to allocate the government funding that is being made available as a part of London 2010 legacy.
More about this on the BEF website HERE.

The meeting was held at the Mudchute Equestrian Centre in East London - a burst of green and trees and animals with large peaks of Canary Wharf in the distance. Very surreal setting but they have lovely facilities including large all-weather surface arena, restaurant with some yummy soups and muffins etc and they also have the cutest rabbits and guinea pigs in the cool little houses with little gardens for them ;) Check out their website:

I didn't research my travel arrangements well and missed the fact there actually was a very easy connection from where I live to Mudchute. Instead, I took a Central Line and it was the most dreadful journeys I had for a long time. Makes me wonder if the commuters on that line developed some changes in their DNA or some other superior adaptations that help them deal with lack of oxygen, space and the type of heat you can only get if you stuff 100 people in a 30 people container.
Now, the DLR on the other hand, was a pleasure to travel on and what lovely views :)

Arrived at the place nice and early for a change and met the people running the meeting: BEF's London Representative David Gadsby, the Volunteer Chair to London Horse Network - Jodie Maile and Anna Bruce from Eventerprise PR, PR Advisor to the Network.

Majority of the delegates taking part were proprietors of London riding schools, some of whom I met before. It was really interesting to listen to their point of view on variety of issues facing the industry and although some attitudes were a bit disheartening the general outcome of the meeting turn up to be very inspiring and motivational.

The reason I agreed to take the place on the meeting in the first place was to learn how to obtain funding for a little London riding school I freelance at but it all turned up to be a very educational experience in many other areas.

The Aims

The London Horse Network (LHN) has 5 aims:

-attract more participants to the sport
-support existing riding schools to improve standards
-identify a mechanism for providing affordable training for those in the industry
-develop links with local and national government, county sports partnerships and schools
-work collectively to attract funding and investment (revenue and capital) into the equestrian industry in London.

Our first task was to rank the above in the order of importance... Let's just say it was an interesting discussion with some surprising outcome in some cases!

I personally found this part of the meeting very insightful. My aim has always been to run the Academy with co-operation with existing riding centres to bring benefits to all parties: the establishments, the riders and myself. However, after visiting many riding schools over the past year I learned that there is a lot of barriers to be fought.

The chance to listen to and take part in the discussion today made me feel like I am starting to understand the ins and outs of this industry a bit better.

There are some fabulous opportunities out there for anybody to tap into but the bureaucracy and logistics of it all is mind boggling.

The two organisations/initiatives that were presented at the meeting today were:

Pro-Active London (their leaflet alone is like a one long list of abbreviations!) - once you translated all the abbreviations and made sense out of every single one you can proceed to appreciate the website which is actually very informative and helpful.
Kerry Smith, Relationship Manager, introduced us to the way the organisation works and how to make use of it. It's not easy!

Then Katie Couchman, Project manager of The Skills Active and The National Skills Academy... Now, this is a one wonderful initiative but again, you almost need to employ a full-time fund searcher to turn your head around all the details. If you work most hours of the day most days of the month you might just not quite manage...

Either way, the general feel was of great support and I am feeling very enthusiastic about learning more on the subject.
My grand mission is to obtain the funding for the indoor/covered arena for Barnfield Riding School as well as develop the Academy into a coaching initiative that isn't just providing me with an interesting job but that helps to deliver a quality training for London riders.

One guest speaker who made it quite simple and very encouraging was a lady from Emile Faurie Foundation. She spoke about a few initiatives the Foundation had started with and their results are amazing.

They do a lot of simple fund rising as well as applying for funds and their newest undertaking is an Art Exhibition: "I found horses..." More about it here:

"Proceeds from this art exhibition will help the Foundation continue transforming young lives."

There are more meeting/seminars scheduled soon with some very interesting content so I am looking forward to those already.

Oh, and let's don't forget the Rabbits:



Before I tell you about today, a little digression....Judging by the amount of spam comments I get nowadays I am guessing my blog is coming up high on google searches. As content of this blog is obviously intensely erotic and includes variety of queries about sexual life I get plentiful of introductions to rather large selection of products that might (obviously) help me writing better posts.
Dear spammers - I appreciate your thought - some of you even try to use a word horse and riding in a strictly equestrian content - but as you can gather I have a 'comment approval' tool switched on on this blog. Save your time and mine and go somewhere else.

Another funky tool I have on this blog is a keyword analysis. It means I can look up what things you look up to find this blog. It is my pleasure to provide you all with comprehensive answers to your difficult queries.
Here are some of my favourites:

does carl hester have barefoot horses
i admire my riding instructor letter
what component of fitness would relate to Eventing of The World Equestrian Games
[someone can't be bothered to write an assignment heh??!]
muscles of the upper body
can i eat hay
why is my girth too long
tina riding little ponny free video


Monday 20 September 2010

Kingsley's Barefoot Rehab Part 1

On the 9th of October Kingsley is going to hit the road. Many thoughts and plenty of educational materials later the decision is made: little man will go to Rockley Farm all the way in Exmoor National Park.

He will also take part in Rockley's rehabilitation research programme - Project Dexter.

From Rockley's Farm website:

"Project Dexter is our research programme into so-called navicular syndrome, deep digital flexor tendonitis and non-specific caudal hoof pain. With the help of Jeremy Hyde, at Eqwest Veterinary Hospital and Professor Peter Clegg at the University of Liverpool, we are running a research project which aims to evidence the effect of our rehabilitation programme, and whether its more successful than traditional treatments, such as remedial shoeing.
The research project started in February 2008 and a short-form table of the results is here:

The shoes can come off 2 weeks after latest shoeing. As Kingsley had his aluminium shoes put on at the weekend we chose to wait till second week of October with the journey.

He is much more comfortable in these shoes than in the previous ones - very small shoes + wedges. The theory was to unload the pressure to the DDFT (deep digital flexor tendon) but having read some articles on newest research on the subject it seems that such idea of the action of the wedges is now heavily challenged. Here is a link to a very interesting article by Pete Ramey:

To aid Kingsley's comfort and to spoil him completely I got Susanna to massage him.

He loved the experience last time and it was no different today. He is quite uncomfortable throughout all the large muscles in his back and neck with a couple of sore spots. They really get noticed because whilst he looks really relaxed and sleepy when enjoying himself, any pressure on the sore spots cause reaction.
I videoed Susanna trying to massage the bottom left side of his brachiocephalic muscle (his left fore is the one more severely affected). As you can see, he is very clearly showing his opinion:

The very immediate result of this sort of massage is the state of calm in the horse. Kingsley is generally fairly twitchy, fidgety horse which perhaps stems from being uncomfortable in one position for any length of time. He does relax when being groomed but massage makes him very calm and at ease with himself. It looks amazing when he pushes himself against Susanna when she hits the right spot as if he was saying "there you go, keep at it"!
I will try to film him for a bit longer next time as had to work during his massage today so only managed that short clip. I am curious to find out whether this sore spot on the neck will disappear when/if he becomes comfortable barefoot.

I also filmed him after taking him to the field as I thought the way he placed his feet heel first this time was interesting. He was very much toe first for a long time, including the period in the wedges obviously but these shoes do help him to walk better. They are also very light.
However, they are just a cover up and fight the symptom not the cause. His frogs are in bad condition and have soft areas on them that developed under the frog part of the wedges he had on previously.

For now, these shoes will hopefully keep him reasonably pain free until the 9th of October. I will try to arrange for another massage session before he goes - after that, all crossed it works as that's his last chance...


Friday 17 September 2010

Books, Burghley, Home Made Pizza and Academy's tasks

You never know how much rubbish you have in your own house until you try to tidy things up. September started for me with a giant clearance. Having been ill almost entire August and being unable to shed a horrid cold for several weeks, my energy returned all of a sudden. At first I just wanted to get rid of stacks and stacks of equestrian mags that I seem incapable of throwing away but ended up filling our patio up with mountains of large, black wheelie bin liners full of all sorts of stuff we no longer need/use...For those of you who don't know our house is a size of a match box so I was impressed at how much storage space it actually has ;)

Old magazines gone it was only fair to order some new books to take up the available shelves! I decided to ask my mum to order some books in Polish for me as although I have no problems reading any English training books it always feels like I learn more reading in the mother tongue.
There are many new things I've learned since I've lived here and I am ashamed to admit but I find some concepts way easier to explain in English than in Polish.
I am rectifying this by reading some excellent books in both languages. The two I've just finished are:

1) Centred Riding by Sally Swift

2) Klaus Balkenhol - The Man And His Training Methods

The Sally Swift book was a great read, some very good ideas on how to explain variety of riding concepts and some excellent examples of very creative images illustrating those concepts.
I also have her second book and I am looking forward to reading it.

The Klaus Balkenhol's biography was a joy to read and very inspirational. I thoroughly recommend it, fantastic insight into life of a very dedicated horseman and coach as well as into his classical training methods.

He is to be the guest speaker at British Dressage's: The Albion National Convention which will be held on the 27-28 November at Hartpury College and I am planning to go to at least one of the days.

Burghley 2010

On Saturday the 4th of September, Kari and I made a two hour road trip to Burghely Horse Trials to watch the XC and to see Craig and Spider doing their first 4* track. It was immediately apparent why Burghely is regarded as the most difficult 4* - the ground goes up and down non stop and there is barely a stretch of even galloping surface. Everything seems to have a gradient to it and if the ground happens to flatten a bit there are strategically placed mounds to make things nicely hair rising!
Despite Kari's hope to avoid any drastic looking falls we ended up witnessing a dreadful one of Rosie Thomas. Her horse Barry's Best caught a knee on the table jump, landed on his knees and face, rider's foot went deep through the iron and didn't release when the horse got up resulting in an awful looking drag :(
Both were fine and Rosie hopped along to give the horse a big hug once stewards had caught him.

Spider went clear and looked fabulous.

A couple of videos I took of Craig and Spider:

The crowds were substantial and it wasn't easy to see the action unless you planted yourself at one jump, sneaked your way to the ropes and just watched several riders going over. In this way you could compare different ways of riding to and over each jump but it could get samey!

The Academy

Time has come to deal with the mammoth task of editing all the Case Studies videos. It's a Grand Design scale project in itself as I literally need hours of free time to upload all the videos and then put them together into short clips. Let's just say I will be relieved when that's done.
The riders are doing very well and I hope you will enjoy reading about their progress.

I wrote a second part of the blog for Horse & Country TV's website and sent it over. I try to make sure that what I write there isn't identical to the content on here so if anybody reads both blogs they won't find the same boring waffle ;)
The H&C TV blog is more about the ups and downs of the Academy from the launch, set up and the running point of view but I also included details that I haven't discussed on here. I will post a link once the second part goes online. If you missed the first part, here it is:

There is another company that wants me to write for them so I need to come up with an interesting version of a blog like material that isn't a repetition of the other material I already write. It's all great opportunity to share my passion for this project but believe me, writing on other sites is a bit stressful as I am very aware of my lame grammar. Thankfully, I have lovely secret proofreaders who will help with any major mishaps!

On the subject of sharing the news - I am working on more, hopefully interesting ways of spreading the word about Academy. Once those ideas are finalised I will post more details about them.

Other Stuff

I blame my friends for making me re-visit the kitchen and start cooking at home again! I really don't have the time for this!! ;) They prepared the most fantastic home-made pizza last week with plenty of some home-prepared ingredients and then actually baked own bread for our breakfast! It was just plain delicious and so tasty :)

Haakan's Home Made Pizza - Yummy!

It's therefore entirely their fault I spent an hour in the kitchen today getting our dinner ready but it was so worth it!

London Ride Network

A couple of weeks ago someone emailed me saying they couldn't make a meeting organised by London Ride Network and whether I would be interested if she recommended me for her place. I have never heard of this organisation but thought it might be interesting to go. According to the information I received "The purpose of the network is to: work in the collective interest to develop the industry, share knowledge and best practices, fund access to the sport, work with external agencies and engage with County Sports Partnerships (CSP’s) and schools. "
I then got sent the Agenda for the meeting and decided it sounded intriguing.

I am not sure if I will be able to meaningfully contribute to the meeting but I would certainly love to learn how to search for funding as well as how to create better environment for the sport to develop further. Every now and then I teach a child or a teenager who have so much drive and talent and I think, damn you could be really good if there were opportunities for you to make it in this sport! The sad truth is that the costs of training and competing are way beyond the reach of those kids' parents. The meeting is on the 28th so I shall post a note of what it was all about.

Off to Kent tomorrow for more Academy chat, some riding, some videoing - speak soon!

Thursday 16 September 2010

No Feet No Horse

It seems a theme now that I have very little time to update this blog so a long update is coming tomorrow. Today I will pass on the news on Kingsley...

If you read my last post you will know that nothing has improved Kingsley's feet problems and we faced a sad end of the road. There is only as much money and tears you can spend on a horse and the decision was made to have Kingsley put to sleep.
As my friend was going to be away we decided to arrange for everything once she returned. In the meantime I had someone coming for a lesson who happened to have a barefoot horse...The said horse was placed at the Horse Of The Year Show some years back but had since developed various feet problems. The owners tried many types of shoeing, pads etc but opted to take the shoes off in the end as a last resort. A year on and the horse is sound and happy.

It got me thinking...I have read a little on barefoot in the past and although I would happily never shoe a horse if it was done from a young age but I wasn't sure what to think about this chucking shoes away after years of having them on. From my limited knowledge on the subject I was aware that any barefoot rehab needs careful preparation and experienced trimmer to supervise the process. The last thing we want is to put Kingsley through unnecessary painful procedures.

I must say it wasn't easy to even make the decision to try one more time. We were prepared to call it a day and start afresh but every time we discussed it neither of us could say "right, let's do it on this/that day".

The more I looked at his feet the more concerned I became. The many photos taken of him helped me to trace the shape of his hooves and even to me they looked in ill condition.

To learn more about it all I posted a thread on Horse & Hound Forum which you can read on here: http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=400084. It has 87 replies as per today and they make for rather interesting read.

If you do read it you will notice a lot of criticism of the farrier. As I now know, the farrier isn't always to blame. He might have been doing all he could have to work with the ill hoof. If the foot doesn't grow well not much can be done.

As Kingsley wasn't at all comfortable in his egg bar shoes we agreed for him to have wedges for a couple of weeks as we were advised he needs pressure taken off his DDFT (Deep Digital Flexor Tendon).
These are the photos I took 2 days after the wedges were put on:

11th September 2010

As you can see this is one unhappy pair of feet. After having a good thorough chat with my friend we decided we should try to give the boy this one more chance and try him barefoot. The question was, how to go about it.
We both would have loved to take part in his rehab and learn what he really needs to become sound but after researching all the options we think we found someone who will do much better job. Once everything is finalised I will post an update.

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