Some of you will know that I have been looking for a yard base for Aspire’s programmes…
In the last few months I have read more adverts than in a few years that’s for sure and in the process I found out that should I was looking in the US I would have plenty of choice! Candace, my dear friend from Chicago, added even more temptations with some awesome links. It seems that having a freelance instructor running their own training programme out of someone else’s facility is a system widely used and utilised. Noted for the future 😉
As for the presence…I can now tell you that a place in the UK which ticks many important boxes and which is happy to facilitate Aspire programmes had been found! It might not be a long term solution but I am very happy about this option which should work really well both for non horse owners as well as for riders with own horses.
The venue is easily accessible from London which I am really pleased about as I was worried about going too far away and losing my fabulous London clients. It’s also set in a wonderful countryside and has an option of an accommodation which was one of the most important factors in the whole search.
I will share more details in due course and as there also is a B&B on doorstep I would already want to warmly invite any readers from further afield to come over for a weekend (or more!) of serious training fun 🙂
From time to time we come across something that takes us back in time…
It happened to me yesterday so first, let me tell you a real life story. I haven’t blogged about it at the time due to sensitive nature of the whole case but years have passed so here we go.
One lovely morning in 2010 I went to work as usual. At the time I taught and groomed freelance at ten, eleven different yards around London, from small private places to big training centres. It took quite a bit of organising as I didn’t drive so I had separate sets of clothes and equipment in lockers at each yard. I’ve also had enough training on equine infectious diseases to know that at the yards with questionable management I needed to have certain rules and that was to have separate boots for those places…You can wash most things in high temperatures if you need to but boots are tricky to wash well unless you have some sort of disinfectant with you all the time. I didn’t have one.
On that one lovely day, my intricate and incredibly interdependent work pattern collapsed. Little did I know how badly.
It started with a phone call from a yard manager of one place I groomed at. She sounded very worried and concerned because she had just spoken to her vet who informed her there was an outbreak of strangles at a yard she knew I also worked at. Funnily enough I was at that yard at the time knowing absolutely nothing. Off I went to chat to another freelance instructor working with me and surprise surprise she also was not informed.
We then had a conversation with the staff who told us they had a couple of horses with flu like symptoms and that they were being moved to the back yard awaiting further tests. I phoned the yard manager back relaying what I learnt but she was adamant the vet diagnosed Strangles.
Somebody was lying for sure but we had no idea who and what was going on. Most of all, I was shocked none of us freelance people got informed as all of us worked at many different places in several counties around London.
I saw the horses in question, they looked subdued and off but that’s about it. I changed into my non-work clothes and went home to google everything possible about working at a place with Strangles…I found nothing much. I spoke to the vet who advised me to change all clothes and wash hands with antibacterial solution before leaving the yard. I bought a few bottles of those little hands sanitizers and used it non stop.
I informed my other yards about an issue and suspected disease but it was not without drama because the affected yard decided to keep a secret…Myself and other instructors were told not to inform anyone else about the veterinary investigations.
On one hand I could understand the owners because the craze that happens in the industry when infectious disease happen and a stigma that surrounds the yard affected are all very difficult to deal with. On the other hand, everybody needs heightened awareness on everything hygiene to contain the disease…
I chose to be open about it and informed all my other employers…
Few days passed and I received a message from the yard manager who initially phoned me asking me not to come to work because she was worried about having Strangles at her yard…I was taken aback by this. I had a horse at livery at the yard at the time too so it was a very difficult moment.
Few other yards followed.
I spoke to a centre manager of a big riding school I freelanced for asking her opinion (they had Strangles at the yard years earlier) and she was happy for me to continue to work. Her decision pretty much saved my livelihood at the time.
As more places grew in disease paranoia and as I lost 80% of my income I became rather desperate and emailed British Grooms Association for advice on procedures. They were very helpful and even put me in touch with a vet who advised me to simply keep my working clothes separate, use disinfectant as I was already using and otherwise work as normal. There were no actual procedures in place for freelance workers…
The whole thing slowly turned from a problem to a nightmare. Strangles got eventually confirmed at the stables with more than 2/3 of horses becoming ill over following weeks. Although I was hearing that my measures were more than enough to continue my work as usual, I started to doubt myself.
As the affected stables remained opened for business ( I still have no idea why the vet didn’t order temporary closure) I continued to work there whilst dropping most of other jobs. In the end of the day, if for whatever reason a horse at one of my other, healthy stables became ill I would forever regret my decision to work regardless of danger.
That was a pretty dark period of quite a few months. I love my job and love teaching so not being able to go out there and do my crazy amount of hours that I was used to was killing me. I also terribly missed my horse whom I couldn’t go and see either.
As far as I am aware, to this day there is no protocol for freelance instructors regarding multiple work places and infectious diseases. I guess it is down to each and every person’s honesty to report they work at an affected yard. Although I endured some significant financial hardship at the time and was told by the owners of affected place that if I wasn’t so naive and informed others I could have worked as normal, I wouldn’t do anything different.
I would, however, like to see some support network available both for freelance workers and the staff at affected places as it was a very sad time with young girls looking after seriously ill, seriously suffering horses.
Why this story all of a sudden?
Well, yesterday I received a message…I get a lot of spam nowadays but I appreciate networking and enjoy it so if someone has something interesting to say, I keep on reading 🙂 This particular message took me back to those dreadful several month in 2010!
It was a product presentation and the more I read the more difficulties from “my strangles year” I remembered. As I finished reading, looking up the website and checking up on recommendations I knew my life, and perhaps life of the yard affected, could have been rather different if I had that product back then.
As it sounds so incredible I am going to extend this post further and let you have more information:
Equilyptus is revolutionising Bio Security within the equine world. It eliminates odours, kills bacteria and germs allowing you and your horse to be free from spreading contagious and infectious diseases such as STRANGLES, RINGWORM and EHV plus many more. It is also effective against THRUSH, MUD FEVER and SWEET ITCH
Equilyptus is specifically designed to be used by vets and such like for Bio Security when travelling from yard to yard and horse owners when Temporary Stabling, even stud farms and racing yards. Use directly on you, your clothes, equipment and any other surface even bedding. Also tack, blankets, mangers and smaller areas where bacteria, germs and flies collect. When used correctly on you, in your yard, stable and transportation it will not only encapsulate all dust particles but also inhibit and stop the spread of bacteria germs fungal spores and viruses
According to Olympic Champion Tim Stockdale, “if you own a horse you need Equilyptus all year round. It’s Brilliant!!!” It is also endorsed by Olympic bronze medallist Caroline Powel and Margot Tiffany BHSI who was on the board of Directors of the British Horse Society.
What is so special about Equilyptus and what are its unique selling points?
100% money back guarantee to destroy all odours. Kills 99.9% of bacteria Destroys fungal spoors Effective against thrush Effective against mud fever Effective against EHV and many more viruses Fantastic coat shine Safe on clothes fabric leather and any surface Safe on human skin Neutral Ph Balance Non toxic No alcohol Non hazardous Non irritant Non carcinogenic Safe on any animals No shelf life Contains the natural oil from the eucalyptus leaf Encapsulates dust particles Environmentally friendly Fully biodegradable
Now, do you understand how reading the above caused some turmoil in my memories?!
Please tell me if you had used this product? I am seriously thinking of buying this.
I listened to a very interesting podcast on Chris Stafford Radio this morning. It’s very American West Coast jumping scene focused chat in first part so perhaps not so relevant in the UK but once it stops there starts (around 00:14 onwards) a very interesting discussion about choosing an instructor…I’ve put the link for you below, it’s a really interesting insight into someone else’s choices that might motivate some riders or parents to be more open minded and think outside the box when assessing who they want to learn from.
A couple of mornings a week I try to catch up with various equestrian forums, both English and Polish (sometimes I venture onto Portuguese, Swedish and Norwegian sites too), read about what riders like to learn about and what might be giving them trouble with progressing their riding. It keeps me on my toes, makes me always search for better answers, consolidate some things, open others for more discussions.
We equestrian bunch are a rather opinionated one. I put together a little Guide on the basis of what I read this and past week. I would be interested in your thoughts…
Here is the thing. We are all in this sport together. Critiquing methods and techniques displayed by Olympic riders is just not ON…
1. You know those pictures and short videos of various “advanced training methods” you see online and that make you feel a little uneasy and kind of like you felt when someone skinned a dog alive and they showed bits and bobs of it on TV? Don’t worry. It’s just this amazing speed of a shutter, if you were there you wouldn’t even spotted this because your eyes, the eyes of a rider who never trained at that level, have no ability to see that kind of movement. Rest assured all this is normal and fine, many world famous judges cannot be wrong, it’s totally unnecessary that you comment on what you see. Just buy a ticket to an event and enjoy it for gods sake.
2. It’s important that you do not criticise anything (unless you are also a top rider than perhaps you can add a point or two) even if it makes you a little sick inside when you watch some training methods. Just realise, these are very sensitive horses, they would probably kill you if not for the methods they are being trained with, please understand.
We have had a great few months, it’s been a lot of fun and the highlight for me has to be riding the fantastic ‘Fine Time’ who won both the Grand Prix Championships and the Grand Prix Freestyle Championships with 72.65% and 76.65% at the British Dressage National Championships at the end of September 2013.
Back at the yard we still turn all our horses as possible throughout the winter when our fields aren’t flooded. We use the Nettex Muddy Marvel range which has a brilliant Barrier Cream to prevent any mud fever issues and also a product called Seven Day Mud Away. This is sprayed onto the horses legs before turning them and the mud is then brushed off easilt when it dries – preventing them having to be washed all the time. We still feed electrolytes to some of the horses that work especially hard as despite being…
It seems that The Dressage Convention is here to stay and will be a yearly event which I am very excited about as I couldn’t make this one in person.
If you are on Twitter, have a look at #TDCTalk tag for various updates from the event. Horse and Hound Magazine also ran a super tweet-report live from Bury Farm and I recommend having a look at their profile for many thought provoking lines: @horseandhound
Here is a little taste for what happened at the weekend. My resolution is to make the 2014 one in person!
From time to time I will bring you all a little non-horsey post with something that caught my attention and made me want to blog about it 🙂 For anyone who knows me won’t be surprised seeing the choice of meal in the title 😉 I love everything pancakes & crepes (I could actually live on them if it was required for any reason!)
So today, it’s a fun VIDEO (scroll down for video) recipe for some delicious Crepes! I found these guys searching for vegetarian recipes and I am definitely going to have a go with their suggestions. I do eat meat but very, very occasionally (not sure what that makes me in a foody language?) and most of the time my meals are what you might describe as veggie meals. Therefore, I am always on the look out for some inspiration!
I am not mega fussy about what I eat as long as it’s fresh and healthy (well, except of the pancakes day sssss…I suppose) and has as little chemicals, packaging and suffering creatures in the making process. I thought Sorted Food guys are doing pretty cool job so I subscribed with intention of giving kitchen a go 🙂
If you follow the eventing world a little bit you might have seen that the owner of Emily King‘s top horse, Brookleigh, decided to sell him…If you haven’t, I copied below Mary’s plead for help in creating a syndicate that would allow Emily to keep the horse.
Then it turns out that a proactive teenager as Emily King is, she put together a poster which she used on her social media to draw more attention to the case and to find supporters.
I first saw the information on Emily King’s Twitter and thought ‘damn I hope they find someone to buy the horse’ . I then read comments online under various mentions of this news and those comments are the reason for this post.
Vast majority of feedback on Emily’s initiative had been of course positive but the not-so-positive part made me think ( I won’t cite all the comments here, if you are interested in the dynamics of equestrian community I do encourage you to have a scan through replies on Mary King‘s Facebook). You might also want to have a read on Horse & Hound Forum: Mary King’s daughter losing her ride on Brookleigh…..?
Some people thought using social media to raise money for syndicate was “unprofessional”, some that it was a scam, others that Mary King should have sold one of her top horses and buy Brookleigh for her daughter. As I said, reading the comments made me think about more general use of publicity, gaining awareness and rising interest through use of the Internet powers and thought I would share my opinion.
Do you notice that sweet S-curve in his tail? It’s the sure sign of a relaxed back on a forward, soft horse. This walk speaks volumes about his rider, too. What a lovely sight.
Or do you judge just a bit, the same way you judge yourself, “Does this horse make my butt look big?”
Of all of the challenges we face improving our riding skills, developing a positive body image is rarely talked about.
I come from a long line of men totally comfortable sitting on the sofa scratching themselves, growing way too much ear hair, and feeling just fine about having food on their faces. And not even from the most recent meal. These same men feel well-qualified to judge cup size, cellulite, and fashion sense of any woman in their path. They do this with the confidence of…