Equestrian Life – March 2013

Words by:
Felix Bartlett
Featured in:
March 2013

Welcome to the world of horses and ponies once again and what a busy month March is going to be.
Our list of Diary Dates is probably the longest we have ever seen in Lincolnshire Life and never boasts of being totally comprehensive, though it could be if you send us your details. Looking down the list it is not simply that there are many dates but also that there is a wide variety of different equestrian events from Show Jumping to Trec. It just underlines what we all know: if you are into horses, come and live in Lincolnshire. Have a good month in the saddle – or mucking out!

The disappointment which has followed the annoucement by Government ministers that they would not be making time this year for a vote on hunting has certainly not revealed itself at hunts in the county, where increased numbers of supporters have been reported.

Lord Charles Yarborough has actually gone on record as saying that support for hunting in general is growing all the time. There was a very large turnout, for instance, for the annual Boxing Day Hunt on the Yarborough Estate and that has been echoed at other hunt meetings.

Lord Yarborough believes people want to see the sport return to its former standing and that parliament will eventually pass a repeal of the hunting with hounds legislation.

He said: “It feels like we have got more supporters than ever, which is fantastic. I am not sure why it is, but people seem to back the underdog, which is what we have become. It has been wonderful to see so many people supporting the Hunt, which is a great event and steeped in tradition. It feels great to see the Hunt return for another year.”

The Boxing Day hunt, which is a 400-year-old tradition, included fifty riders accompanied by about twenty-three-and-a-half couples of hounds.

Other hunts are saying much the same. The South Wold Hunt supporters have turned out in great numbers at meets, especially the annual Boxing Day event at Louth Cattle Market.

Hunt master, Nick Ashcroft is leaving to move to Hampshire but urged supporters to continue writing to their MPs to get a repeal in the near future.

Meanwhile supporter, Ann Laverack voiced the opinion of many when she said: “If you don’t keep foxes down, they face worse deaths and many of them get shot anyway. It is a great shame there is not going to be a vote.”

Sophie Wells is busy training for her 2013 competitions, with her focus also on going to Rio for the 2016 Paralympics and hopefully more medals.

She is still being honoured for her success in 2012, having been awarded an MBE and invited to a special reception hosted by the Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House, for British equestrian sport’s Olympic and Paralympic medallists.

“The dream is still going on,” said Sophie. “But I have to keep my feet on the ground, so to speak, and keep my real focus on what happens next.”

Caistor’s Katy Hurst also has a dream and is getting closer all the time to achieving her ambition of representing Europe at a Concours International Combiné event during 2013.

Since passing her initial assessments last year, the thirty-year-old has been training with the European team and she has now made it through to the last sixteen of a selection process that will eventually whittle riders down to a final team of six to compete at the CIC event, in Austria in July.

But to make it onto that squad Katy knows she needs to clear further hurdles in the form of a series of further assessment days and competitions over the coming months.

“The experience of training with the European team has been fantastic,” said the former Franklin College student. “Last year, there were a few assessment days that we had to attend and then from that they picked who they wanted to continue training.

“There were around sixty horses and riders at the assessments and they’ve now cut that down to sixteen this year and, thankfully, we’ve got down to the sixteen that will carry on training, so that’s really good news. It would be a dream come true to make it into that team. It would mean that I would be representing my country at European level.”

Katy has recently relocated thirteen horses to new facilities at Market Rasen and explained: “There are indoor schools there, so riding has continued through all of the recent wintry weather, which has been a real help.”

The Burton Point-to-Point organisers battled the elements to stage horseracing at North Carlton on the second attempt on 10th February. The snow failed to melt in time to allow the meeting to go ahead a fortnight earlier and although soggy racecards were the order of the day there were some good finishes as thirty-six runners contested the six races on ‘good to soft’ going.

There was a double for Warwickshire rider, Pete Mann who got off the mark in the opening Lincolnshire United Hunts Club Members’ race with a last-minute ride on Definite Dawn. Trained in Oxfordshire by Pauline Harkin, Definite Dawn was purchased privately last summer by local owner, Christopher Padfield with winning this race in mind. However, Padfield’s ambition was only partially realised; he had originally planned to ride the horse himself. This plan was foiled the previous day when an exciting three o’clock trail out hunting with the Burton led to him taking a fall and Pete Mann being called upon as a replacement.

Julie Marles added to her Midlands Area win with All Great N Theory at the South Wold recently, sending out Jo Mann’s Midnight King to take the Just Automobile Solutions Ltd two runner Men’s Open race. After the race Pete Mann said: “Midnight King wasn’t quite right when he ran at Cottenham in December but he has got his confidence back now. I hope he will take in a Hunter Chase at some point this season.” Pete Mann is now in front in the North Carlton leading rider championship for the Frank Theaker trophy.

Phillip Rowley brought useful ladies horse The General Lee across from Shropshire to take the FB Watson sponsored Ladies Open race. Ridden by Jane Williams, the eleven-year-old, who was making his seasonal debut, has now qualified for the £10,000 AGA Ladies Open Point-to-Point Championship Final Hunter Chase at Stratford in June.

The Mason family came down from Yorkshire with Impact Zone, favouring North Carlton over the Sinnington meeting, and he finished second to The General Lee. Their other runner, Oriel Bank went one better in the Brewin Dolphin Ltd Restricted race. Oriel Bank, the only winner of the day not to start favourite, jumped the last upsides Hand Act Or Part but edged ahead on the run in. This was Jo Mason’s first winner of the season. “Dad rides him all the time at home and thought he might just need the race. I might as well join the Midlands Area as I am always here!” she joked.

The biggest field of the day, ten runners went to post for the Hodgson Elkington Open Maiden race. However, Nalim’s experience stood him in good stead and as the other nine runners went by the wayside the seven-year- old Milan gelding kept going and finished alone, getting another Yorkshire rider, Harriet Bethell off the mark for the season. After the race, winning owner William Bethell said: “He ran a blinder at Brocklesby last week and was so well we thought we would come here.”

Saturday, 9th March 2013 at Brocklesby Park. The annual Brocklesby Point-to-Point horse races will once again be held at the popular venue at Brocklesby Park on Lord Yarborough’s picturesque estate. Racegoers, horses and riders are expected to travel from far and wide to enjoy racing at the track which is widely acknowledged as one of the best prepared Point-to-Point courses in the country. The races are enjoyed by all members of the family and the superb parkland setting is ideal for a picnic.

Admission to the races is £10 per person and there will be a range of trade stands, food outlets and a public bar. First race time is 12.30pm, there are seven scheduled races and the course is situated just off the A18 close to Humberside Airport. For more information visit www.pointtopoint.co.uk

Everybody is right or left handed and it is normal for us to favour one side over the other. For example, when you start up a flight of stairs you are likely to always lead with the same foot. Have you considered how you sit on your horse before you even ask him to walk on?

While sitting on your horse, find that bony part of your bottom (your seat bones). Try rocking gently from one seat bone to the other and see if they feel the same. Now settle with your weight equally spread between the two, does their contact with the saddle feel the same? If your weight is different between the seat bones then you are giving your horse an aid before you even ask him to move.

While maintaining equal weight between your seat bones, move off in walk. Does he walk on in a nice straight line or does he always drift through his shoulder the same way? Is there a pattern developing between what you felt with your seat bones and the direction in which your horse drifts?

Correct the weight distribution between your seat bones as you walk and see if your horse then responds by becoming straighter?

Your horse will go in the direction that your body signals with your weight; it is simply a question of whether or not you are aware of this signal that you are giving.

There is so much to think about and this is before we even start trotting, but hopefully this simple exercise has been quite revealing to you and your horse. Next month we will look at how effectively our bodies absorb the movement of the horse.

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