Equestrian Life – May 2013

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May 2013

Welcome to the world of horses and ponies once again and what a busy month May is going to be
Horses have been a familiar and revered part of rural Lincolnshire for centuries.

Farming in the area was hugely reliant on the strength and loyalty of the horses that pulled ploughs, carted hay, transported feed and took produce to market. But mechanisation in the past century saw the horse’s role change, to being used mostly for leisure.

Although our trusty steeds are rarely used to work the land now, their value remains significant. Research undertaken by the British Horse Industry Confederation (BHIC) suggests that the gross output of the equine industry is the second largest contributor to the rural economy, after agriculture.

Even if you are not one of the 720,000 people estimated to own horses in the UK, it is likely that you have been to a local riding school or attended the races. There are many who are employed directly or indirectly in the equine sector and the BHIC suggests that more than 500,000 hectares of land in Britain are dedicated to maintaining and producing horses.

It is also estimated that there are about 2,500 equine businesses in the east of England, about two thirds of which are relatively small riding schools and livery yards. But, significantly, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has found that these figures have increased dramatically in the past five years.

This clearly indicates that, as the equine industry continues to grow, it will play an increasingly significant role in our local economy as well as influencing the management of our iconic landscape. The strong demand for horse related leisure represents a big opportunity for rural businesses and the environments in which they operate. If directed poorly, however, both in terms of public policy and private expertise, the equine sector can quickly become tarnished by negative experience.

In order to help ensure a modern and thriving equine business sector, the CLA has launched a policy paper, Clearing Hurdles. Many worthy bodies operate in the industry, but the CLA, as the principal organisation for rural land, property and business is particularly well placed to champion the cause. Whether it is knocking on doors in Westminster or providing grassroots business advice, the CLA is keen to ensure that the equine industry makes the most of the myriad opportunities it faces.

In order to achieve this, the CLA has come up with a number of recommendations for the government and, considering the current drive to reduce red tape and incentivise economic growth, now is the time to push on an opening door.

The list is long, but in short, equine businesses need:
• A planning system that is cheaper, simpler, faster and more positive.
• Flexible tenancy and taxation regimes which do not stifle enterprise.
• A fast and comprehensive broadband service for information and marketing.
• An amendment to the Animals Act to reduce the cost of public liability insurance.
• The adoption of a risk based approach to Health & Safety.
• The retention of Small Business Rate Relief from business rates.
• Promotion of practical best practice in pasture and waste management.
• High horse welfare standards, sufficient disease research and veterinary support.
• Eligibility for rural funding, grants and agri-environment schemes.
• Recognition and promotion via the tourist information network.

The CLA believes that suitable policy changes will remove many of the hurdles currently facing equine businesses. The importance of making these changes cannot be underestimated. Without the right policy and advisory framework, the equine sector will remain fragmented and its economic potential will stay unrealised. But, positive policies and practical advice will give the industry the leg-up it deserves.

For a copy of Clearing Hurdles and to become a member of CLA East visit www.cla.org.uk or call the CLA regional office on 01638 590429. You can also follow CLA East on Twitter @CLAEast.

Hampered by three days of wet weather in March with only the odd moment bringing forth rays of sunshine and a few patches of blue sky, the annual Lincolnshire Horse Trials still produced some excellent displays of riding as once more Charles Hood, the director and course designer, laid out a challenging course for the competitors.

The most interesting and novel jumps were reserved for the experienced riders on the Sunday and as well as the popular ABBA Plant Hire’s Land Rover Lift, this time sporting a red Land Rover, there was also the LAS Farriers Fayre which had the Anvil jump and just after it the Horseshoe jump. The Anvil was carved out of a tree stump that was there after the council had said the tree had to be removed, and so the ever ingenious minds of the Lincolnshire Showground team turned it into a wonderful and challenging jump. It really was beautifully done and looked impressive.

The focus on the rider’s body continues with ‘Pilates with Sarah Payne… feel the difference’.

ARE YOU SITTING TALL? Moving on from the focus of last month, where we moved our hips to allow the movement of the horse to be absorbed by the rider’s body, how elegant and tall do you feel through your position while you are riding? As you are driving your car, consider how you are sitting in your seat; when you turn a corner do you shorten one side of your body and collapse through the side of your waist and ribcage or do you stay nice and tall? Does a similar thing happen when you ride?

When viewed from the back or front, if one shoulder appears higher or lower than the other it is likely that your ribcage has collapsed on one side. You need to have the feeling that your ribcage is being carried above your pelvis and not being pulled down or shortened on one side.

SWITCH ON YOUR LIGHTS! A simple way to improve the placement of your ribcage is to imagine that your chest is a pair of headlights. Where do your headlights point? Imagine your headlights are on full beam and shining straight ahead of you, this should instantly improve your position. Are your headlights level? Practice changing the position of your headlights and feel which parts of your body are being used to support you. Remember, when you want to turn a circle or ride a corner, your headlights must influence the direction you want to go in.

TRY THIS EXERCISE Ride in a straight line away from the fence or wall that may support you and practice changing the position of your headlights. Notice how it affects the way your horse is going. Can you turn left and right simply by changing the position of your headlights? Have fun and shine those lights!

Sarah Payne www.sheepgate.co.uk
Tel 01205 870236 (office hrs)/07768 156262

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