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Riding Safely

News for April, May & June 2006

Covering the period 1st April to 30th June 2006


Check out the developing news for July & August 2006 >>>


See the previous news digest for 1st January to 31st March 2006 >>>


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No more horsing around – new health and safety guidance for livery yards

Health and safety guidance for the safe operation of livery yards has been produced, in anticipation of new government legislation to licence such premises.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) guidance aims to unravel this complex area of health and safety, providing in-depth explanation and working examples for those tasked with enforcing standards.

Speaking on behalf of the CIEH, director of policy Ian Foulkes said: “Many livery yard proprietors may not be aware of their obligations with regard to health and safety.

“This guidance is a valuable reference tool for both those who have a duty to enforce standards and those who have a duty to uphold them.”

The document sets out current good practice for: environmental health practitioners; licensing officers; vets and animal wardens and also provides a useful tool for both owners and managers of livery yards, in light of potential changes to legislation in the Animal Welfare Bill.

Supported by the riding industry’s major stakeholders, the guidance aims to fill a gap in existing literature and also provides useful checklists necessary to minimise the risk associated with such premises.

The guidance recognises the need to strike a practical balance to reduce hazards without hindering the sustainability of the riding industry.

The Health and Safety Guidance for Inspections of Horse Riding Establishments and Livery Yards can be downloaded from: http://www.cieh.org/library/Knowledge/Health_and_safety/guidancelivery_3.pdf

Source:  Chartered Institute of Environmental Health - 09 May 2006  


MoD helps equestrian events by restricting low level flying

If you’re organising an equestrian event there is always the possibility that low flying military aircraft may appear unexpectedly - unsettling horses with the potential for accidents.  

But worry not - as help is at hand from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).  They are more than happy to arrange for their aircraft to avoid your event on a temporary basis (wherever possible) as long as you give them sufficient warning.

So what do you need to do?

Requests need to be submitted by post at least 14 days before the event to:

DAS LA Ops Pol 1

Floor 5, Zone H

MoD Main Building




and must contain the following information:

1.  Contact name and address

2.  Nature and name of event

3.  Location, including an Ordnance Survey grid reference

4.  Dates and times for which the avoidance is being requested

Remember, if appropriate; include low military flying as a hazard on your event risk assessment and the control measures outlined above.

Further information about the MoD’s Avoidance Policy can be found at:  http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/WhatWeDo/AirSafetyandAviation/LowFlying/AvoidancePolicy.htm

Further information about the MoD’s low flying areas can be found at: 



Ragwort poses health threat to humans, horses, cattle and sheep, BHS conference told

RENOWNED veterinary Professor Derek Knottenbelt told a British Horse Society Ragwort Awareness Conference that the weed posed a health threat to people as well as horses, sheep and cattle.

Humans are at risk from poisoning by ragwort, Professor Knottenbelt told a packed Saddlers' Hall, in the City of London, on Thursday (27 April 2006).

Professor Knottenbelt, a leading vet of the University of Liverpool, said he fears that meat from sheep and cattle, and also milk and honey could all become contaminated with the deadly toxins.

He said government was currently ignoring the risk to the human food chain, and he called for the complete destruction of all ragwort in the UK.

"It is toxic to humans, so what the hell are we doing with it in this country?" he asked an enraptured audience of local authority officials, major landowners and other interested delegates.

Professor Knottenbelt, the world's leading expert on ragwort, said the yellow weed killed approximately 2,000 horses a year in Britain, often by triggering liver failure resulting in photosensitivity and in some instances cancer.

"Ragwort is a hooligan," he said. "It is a skulking, cowardly plant. By the time you see the damage to a horse, it is too late to save it."

He said he could scientifically prove that ragwort was poisoning cattle, sheep, rodents - and humans. He conceded that the risk to human health was currently at a low level, but said that could readily change.

In a rousing speech, Professor Knottenbelt said he had deliberately poisoned himself with ragwort to disprove critics who had claimed it was harmless to humans. "I have tested it on myself," he said. "My liver is in a bad state."

The Ragwort Awareness Conference, staged by the UK's leading horse charity The British Horse Society, also heard from a senior conservationist, a second vet and a government official on ways of controlling and destroying the deadly weed.

Practising vet Chris House spoke eloquently on the impact of the Ragwort Control Act 2003 and the Code of Practice, after an introduction by conference chairman Baroness Masham of Ilton who had guided that legislation through the House of Lords.

BHS Chief Executive Graham Cory revealed the results of a survey of local authorities which has shown that three-quarters of those who responded to the survey have no ragwort strategies in place, and of the one quarter that do, two-thirds of them have allocated no funds to put their strategies into action.

Duncan Findlay, Managing Director of AgResource Business Solutions Limited, spoke very thoroughly on the identification of the different types of ragwort at different stages of its life cycle, and, in a later session, on the safe and effective control of ragwort.

And Mike Green, of Defra, gave an impressive and useful talk on the safe and effective removal and disposal of ragwort and effective preventative measures.

The conference was aimed at educating local authorities and other major owners of land about the existing laws and the dangers that ragwort, a poisonous weed, poses to grazing animals and human health.

The BHS was instrumental in the formation of the Ragwort Act 2003 and the codes of practice introduced alongside the legislation, which amended the existing Weeds Act.

However the number of calls from the public about the spread of ragwort in their counties had made the BHS's Welfare Department recognise the need for a conference on this issue for major landowners.

BHS Chairman Patrick Print said: "Education is our main weapon in fighting the scourge of ragwort."

Afterwards, many delegates said the conference had made them see the seriousness of the problem.

One delegate rose to his feet and said he was "stunned" by what he had learnt which had opened his eyes to the true dangers of ragwort.

Source:  British Horse Society - 28 April 2006

Related Information:

Defra - http://www.defra.gov.uk/rural/horses/topics/ragwort.htm

and http://www.defra.gov.uk/environ/weedsact/default.htm

BHS – Advice on the dangers of Ragwort - http://www.bhs.org.uk/DocFrame/DocView.asp?id=424&sec=-1

House of Commons and House of Lords Written answers - Ragwort Control Act (16 January 2006) -



Riding hats must fit to be safe, says BETA

Free personalised fittings of hats and body protectors are available to riders across the south-west.

The service is on offer from tack shops whose staff attended a Safety Course run by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) at the equine charity Horseworld’s Bristol headquarters.

Hats and body protectors meeting even the highest safety standards are useless if they are not fitted correctly, says BETA, the body that campaigns for and monitors safer riding equipment.

Garments that do not fit well are also likely to be uncomfortable, perhaps deterring riders from wearing them at all. Safety equipment should also be chosen carefully according to the type of riding involved.

Additionally there are requirements under the rules of the various equestrian sports’ governing bodies to consider; while some riders may benefit from a bespoke service to accommodate unique shapes and sizes.  

Not surprisingly, many riders find that acquiring the right gear can be a complicated process. BETA-trained retailers, who have access to the latest technological and medical research on rider safety, can step in to help.

Many riders are buying body protectors for the first time, according to BETA Safety Course delegate Rachel Barnett from Equishop in Wilton near Salisbury. “People want explanations before buying, so if someone comes into the shop looking bemused, we are very hot on helping them.”

Child riders as young as age three can be fitted with hats and body protectors at TDS Saddlers at Four Marks, Alton, Hants.

“Parents are increasingly ensuring their children are safe while they enjoy their riding,” said the shop’s Jade White who attended the BETA Safety Course.

“We encourage parents to bring children in for a free hat and body protector fitting, with many choosing to buy them as a set. Wearing the correct riding gear from an early age becomes a good habit for later in life.”

Riding hats can be fun and fashionable as well as offering vital protection, according to Chrissie Rideout, a BETA Safety Course delegate from Boulters of Banwell near Weston-super-Mare.

“The show jumper style hats with front panels are very much the trend of the moment. Younger riders also like skull caps because they can wear a velvet cover over them for showing and a brightly coloured silk – maybe even with a bobble – for cross country.”

On a more serious note, Chrissie emphasised how replacing a riding hat following any impact, whether through falling off a horse or dropping the hat, could prove literally to be a lifesaver.

“Experts on the BETA course showed us how a hat can appear fine from the outside, yet be horribly damaged on the inside. It was shocking.”

Other retailers who attended the course, and are now have staff entitled to display a BETA Safety certificate in-store, include: Centell Saddlery, Reading, Berks; Spondon Saddlery, Derby; Biggleswade Saddlery, Beds; Bridoon, Warminster, Wilts; Horsewise, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford; Horse-E-Things, Fordingbridge, Hants.

Leading industry experts were brought together by BETA to offer these retailers professional training in construction, standards and testing of hats and body protectors, anatomy referring to safety garments plus instruction in correct fitting techniques. Riders who shop with these retailers can benefit from this knowledge.

BETA also developed and administers the internationally recognised BETA Body Protector Standard. To locate your local retailer trained by BETA in hat and body protector fitting, contact 01937 587062 or info@beta-uk.org

To help owners and riders avoid compromising their own safety or their horses’ welfare, BETA runs a series of retailer training courses covering everything from wormers to bits and riding hats to body protectors. Successful candidates are entitled to a certificate for public display in their shops. Along with the BETA logo, this is an indication that customers are shopping with a qualified retail professional.

The association also produces advice leaflets on selecting, fitting and maintaining equestrian equipment – available free to all. To obtain copies, send an SAE to BETA, Stockeld Park, Wetherby, LS22 4AW.  Or visit www.beta-uk.org

Source:  BETA - 28 April 2006 

Related information:

Get more information on riding hats, body protectors and the standards from the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) at:

Hat guide - http://www.beta-uk.org/Safety/HatGuide.asp

Hat standards - http://www.beta-uk.org/Safety/HatStandards.asp

Body protector standards - http://www.beta-uk.org/Safety/ProtectStandard.asp

Fitting body protectors - http://www.beta-uk.org/Safety/BodyProtectors.asp


Roads, Byeways and Rights of Way


Equestrian Access Forum to demand better off-road riding

Following the publication of the joint British Horse Industry Confederation/Defra Strategy for the Horse Industry in England and Wales, the main equestrian access organisations from around the country have formed a working group called the Equestrian Access Forum.

The forum consists of The British Horse Society, the Byways and Bridleways Trust, British Driving Society, Endurance Great Britain, Mendip Cross Trails Trust, the National Federation of Bridleways Association, the South Pennine Packhorse Trails Trust and an officer with local authority experience.

The Toll Rides (Off Road) Trust will be joining the forum, at its next meeting.

The Forum aims to highlight the lack of equestrian off-road access opportunities to the Government, when compared to the opportunities afforded to walkers and cyclists.

Mark Weston, BHS Director of Access, Welfare and Safety, said: “The Forum believes that there are no good reasons why all paths cannot be multi user paths, thereby representing social inclusion and best economic value for the public.

“We are also formulating a Vision for the Future Provision of Equestrian Access. This will be published later this summer.”

For more information please contact: Vanessa Depre, BHS Communications Department on 01926 707737 or v.depre@bhs.org.uk

Source:  British Horse Society – 30 May 2006


Horse Welfare

BHS Welfare urges horse owners to take precautions to help prevent Laminitis

The BHS Welfare Department has called on all horse owners to help in the fight against Laminitis.

Laminitis is a serious and very painful condition that can affect any type of horse, pony or donkey at any time and is particularly common at this time of year when spring grass is coming through.

Helen Owens, the BHS's Welfare Senior Executive, said: "Preventing Laminitis is always better than trying to manage it. Overweight animals are thought to be one of the groups at highest risk of developing Laminitis. Therefore a management regime which includes diet and weight control is essential."

Spring grass is often high in nutrients and grows rapidly. Therefore grazing may need to be restricted at this time. It is difficult for owners to estimate the volume of grass their horses ingest and, quite often, it is more than required which may result in bloating and weight problems. This in turn could increase the risk of the onset of Laminitis.

Prompt action may help reduce the severity of this painful condition. If owners suspect their horse, pony or donkey may be suffering with Laminitis, they should contact their veterinary surgeon immediately.

For a free advisory leaflet about the Prevention and Management of Laminitis, please send an SAE to the BHS Welfare Department or visit the BHS Website: http://www.bhs.org.uk/DocFrame/DocView.asp?id=425&sec=-1

For further information contact the BHS Welfare Department on 01926 707839 or email welfare@bhs.org.uk

Related website: The Laminitis Trust - http://www.laminitis.org




Horses rescued from stable blaze 

Firefighters are battling to cool down gas cylinders caught up in a stable fire in east Lancashire.

Twenty horses have been rescued from the blaze at a stable block on Back Lane in Read, near Padiham.

Read more from BBC News Online 4 April 2006 at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lancashire/4876832.stm


For further information regarding fire and arson prevention go to the Fire Section of Waxed Jackets corner


No one likes an accident. Those featured in this section come from media sources and often lack the detail of the circumstances that may have contributed to the tragic outcomes. Even so, by being aware of the types of accidents that have happened in the past may help to prevent similar accidents occurring in the future.

Horse and trap man dies in crash 

A man was killed and his teenage son injured when a car crashed into a horse-drawn carriage in County Durham. 

Read more from BBC News Online (21 April 2006) at:   http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/wear/4929262.stm


Rider's death

The Times Newspaper/Online (7 May 2006) reported that a woman was killed when her horse, a former steeple chaser, threw her after setting off in pursuit of another horse. Janet McDonagh, 52, suffered a brain haemorrhage. The Hertfordshire Coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Source: Times Online at  http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-2165991.html


Trapped horse forces M25 closure 

The M25 had to be closed in both directions between junctions five and six after a horse tried to escape from its trailer while in transit. 

More from BBC News Online (26 April 2006) at:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/4948888.stm


eemail.gif If you know of any equestrian related accidents or near-misses then please share them with Riding Safely
Doing so may save a life or a lifetime of incapacity
Looking Forward - Diary Dates

The British Horse Society lets grooms have their say

The British Horse Society is launching a new initiative giving grooms the opportunity to voice their opinions and discuss the direction their profession is taking.

The idea was developed after the BHS was approached by a number of grooms wanting to express their views and ways to move forward.

Margaret Linington-Payne, the BHS's Director of Standards, said: "We are delighted to have been approached to host this forum. Grooms are vital to the equine industry and many feel they are undervalued. If we can do anything to help raise their profile and support them in moving forwards we will be happy to assist."

The BHS will be hosting the forum at their headquarters at Stoneleigh Deer Park, Warwickshire, on June 1.

There are limited spaces available and early application is advisable. Grooms, and those who employ and/or train grooms are welcome to apply for a place at the forum. Entry is free and light refreshments will be provided. Applications can be sent to training@bhs.org.uk

The day will give grooms and those closely involved with them the chance to discuss the current position of the profession and how it could move forward.

For further information, please contact the BHS Training Office on 01926 707799 or email training@bhs.org.uk


BHS Fire Risk Assessment Day - Region: South

Date: Monday 5 June

Venue: Berkshire College of Agriculture, nr Maidenhead

Costs: Proprietors of BHS Approved establishments - 25.00, Proprietors of Non-approved establishments - 30.00, BHS Members - 30.00, Non-members - 35.00.

For further details please ring Andrea Jackman on 01525 288484 or email: a.jackman@bhs.org.uk or see the BHS website at:  http://www.bhs.org.uk/content/Ods-EvtMore.asp?id=4809&pg=Competitions&spg=Events&area=7


BHS Fire Risk Assessment Day - Region: South

Date: Monday 5 June

Venue: Berkshire College of Agriculture, nr Maidenhead

Costs: Proprietors of BHS Approved establishments - 25.00, Proprietors of Non-approved establishments - 30.00, BHS Members - 30.00, Non-members - 35.00.

For further details please ring Andrea Jackman on 01525 288484 or email: a.jackman@bhs.org.uk or see the BHS website at:  http://www.bhs.org.uk/content/Ods-EvtMore.asp?id=4809&pg=Competitions&spg=Events&area=7


Association of British Riding Schools Annual Conference
The ABRS will be holding their Annual Conference in London on 16 & 17 October 2006.
For more details contact the ABRS at office@abrs-info.org
eemail.gif If you know of any forthcoming equestrian safety related events please contact Riding Safely 

BETA's Body Protector Survey Continues......

If you own a body protector then BETA (the British Equestrian Trade Association) want to hear from you!  

BETA are still conducting a survey to obtain information regarding the use and effectiveness of body protectors which in turn will be used to assist their continued development and promotion.


Help now by getting more details from BETA and take part in the survey


Responses to the BETA survey have already highlighted body protector issues - read the interim report from BETA


News of other Websites 
Association of British Riding Schools - ABRS
The ABRS have a new website address http://www.abrs-info.org/ and a new email address office@abrs-info.org

Ministry of Defence moves military low flying information

The Ministry of Defence website has recently undergone modernisation which has resulted in the Military low flying information being moved to a new page. The new address is:


(18 February 2006)

Business Essentials
Need to know if you're doing enough to comply with health, safety and environmental requirements?  Then this section is for you.  The information in this section will be repeated each month with the latest highlighted in yellow.
What you must do
The Health and Safety Executive list 10 key things you must do if you are in business.  Are you doing them all?  Check them out and get further help from http://www.hse.gov.uk/smallbusinesses/must.htm

In Brief...


End of the ride?

The Bucks Free Press published a letter from the Country Land and Business Association warning that youngsters may find there are no riding schools where they can learn to ride because increased insurance premiums associated with the current interpretation of the 1971 Animals Act are forcing some riding schools to close.

Source:  Bucks Free Press Online 23 May 2006. 

Read the full letter at: http://www.thisisbucks.co.uk/opinion/yourletters/display.var.768211.0.end_of_the_ride.php


Remains of iron age chariot uncovered on West Yorkshire motorway site to go on show to the public

The remains of a unique 2000-year-old Iron Age chariot uncovered during a Highways Agency project to upgrade the A1 in West Yorkshire are to go on show to the public for the first time at an exhibition opening at Pontefract Museum on Friday 26th May.  Read more>>>

Source:  Government News Network - 24 May 2006


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