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Riding Safely

News for May, June & July 2005


Sadly we learn of another riding school1 closing its doors for good.  Some of the reasons leading to the decision were given as an overall increase in rates, health and safety issues, insurance, paperwork and red tape.  Reasons commonly echoed by businesses that make up the industry.


Recently a leading equestrian personality commented that "Any trainers or yard owners who haven't yet done these (risk) assessments can look forward to a task that will take many months of extra evening slog" - a strongly held perception by many in the horseworld.


But wait, The Office of Fair Trading recently reported2 that the high level of rises in insurance premiums experienced over the past couple of years is beginning to slow, due to amongst other things, better risk management.


We've also seen the Health and Safety Executive launch a Sensible Health & Safety campaign3.  Bill Callaghan, Chair of the Health & Safety Commission in a recent speech4 told an audience "I worry that too many small firms are put off by a misleading picture of what health and safety is all about. They are put off taking the practical and often simple measures that can protect their workers and their businesses. A small firm should not have to fill in pages and pages of forms to complete a risk assessment."


Confusingly we seem to have some conflicting messages.  On one hand we have the reality of riding schools closing and commonly held negative perceptions relating to health & safety issues.  On the other hand we seem to have encouraging news regarding insurance and the promotion of sensible health and safety.


There is a gap.  A gap between where the industry is now and where it wants and needs to be in the future.  Certainly those in the industry with negative perceptions relating to health & safety issues would benefit from better focussed information and training.  But the industry hasn't been sitting on its backside.  The British Horse Society and the Association of British Riding Schools have been successfully working with insurers to find solutions to the insurance issues being faced by Riding schools and livery yards. In addition, the Government has been working in partnership with the British Horse Industry Confederation to devise a long-term strategy5 for the industry in England and Wales.  Many of the issues typical to the above riding school closure are firmly on the agenda to be resolved.  Sadly, for some, too late.


For the future of the horse industry it's essential that those at all levels in all sectors of the industry work together to ensure that the final strategy is not only implemented but is also successful.  In the words of the previous Minister for the Horse, Alun Michael MP "those who care about the horse in British society must work together or together choose to be ineffective. It’s your choice".



1  Grange Farm Equestrian Centre – see News below.

2  Improvement in Liability Insurance Markets – see News below.

3 Sensible Health & Safety campaign – see News below.

4 Risk and Compensation – striking the balance - a speech made by Bill Callaghan on 22 March 2005

5 Horse Industry Joint Research & Strategy


What are the health & safety issues that concern you most?  List them in the Forum


Your Right of Reply.....

You can comment about any of the items in this edition of the News digest in the Forum.


Safety Tips for Summer.....
Your Riding Hat needs you......
The protection offered by your riding hat may become seriously comprimised during summer weather.  Read the tip to find out what steps you can take to make sure it isn't......
Planning a journey by road for you and your Horse?
Getting caught in traffic or road works isn't much fun for you or your horse at any time, but particularly more so during summer.  Now help is at hand from the Highways Agency with Traffic England, a website that gives real time traffic information on all major routes (if you have time to check before you leave on your journey), but more importantly details of impending roadworks when planning your journey.
If possible take a charged mobile phone (and charger that can be used in your vehicle) in case you break down to summon help.
Get further tips on travelling your horse in hot weather from Horse & Hound >>>
Give me sunshine......
(this tip first appeared in July/August 2004 but continues to be important)


Improvement in Liability Insurance Markets
Press Release 23 June 2005 - The liability insurance markets are showing improvement according to a follow-up study published by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). However, the report identifies that there are still issues regarding the equestrian sector (specifically mentioned in sections 3.7, 3.16 & 4.10. of the study).  The press release adds "Insurers and policyholders should also be benefiting from initiatives, led by government departments and the industry itself, aimed at making the markets work better. Longer renewal notice periods and efforts to improve information and risk management, so that premiums more accurately reflect risk (for example, by taking better account of good health and safety practice), seem to be providing benefits for all concerned." 


Another riding school bites the dust - 10/06/2005
Grange Farm Equestrian Centre is the latest major riding school to close its doors as the BHS sees a significant reduction in the number of its approved centres.

Read More >>> 


Riding schools turn away budget hats

Industry experts issue caution over discount riding gear now being sold in supermarkets

Read more from Horse & Hound >>>

All Horse & Hound news items that are reproduced in this newsletter are done so with the permission of Horse & Hound


Inventor develops 'unsafe' hat warning system - 23/06/2005
An inventor hopes to pioneer a rattle-based warning system for damaged hats, but manufacturers are hesitant to adopt the new innovation.

Read More >>>


New high performance hat standard approved - 19/07/2005
A new standard of riding hat has been approved for use as the BHS points again to the importance of wearing up-to-date headgear.

Read More >>>


No Charges for muck heaps, says Defra - 12/05/2005
Equestrian establishments with muck heaps do not require a waste management licence or a licence exemption unless they are adding other materials to the heap in order to make it into compost.

Read more >>>


Racing week: Spotlight on jockeys' health - 27/05/2005
New research suggests that the constant battle for jockeys to keep their weight down could lead to serious medical problems.

Read More >>>


Racing week: Thumbs-up for safer goggles - 24/06/2005
Irish racing has been road-testing innovative new racing goggles designed to be shatterproof at speeds of up to 100mph.

Read More >>>


Anti-clockwise for safety?

"When Chris Kinane was severely injured recently after being kicked in the paddock before a race, people were beginning to discuss safety in this area. I saw Steve Drowne receive a nasty kick from his intended mount in similar circumstances even more recently at Newbury.

I am not the only person to wonder why, after all these years of legging up jockeys in the narrow space between the horse and the paddock rail, we risk injury by walking horses in a clockwise direction.

It seems ludicrous that we don't walk in an anti-clockwise direction, where it would be safer and simpler to give the jockey a leg-up while the horse is walking. You would also have the whole paddock into which to escape, should the horse kick out.

Only on courses without a double rail in their paddock might the watching public be in any danger.  One trainer said to me that the horse might hurt itself by kicking the rail. It seemed slightly quaint to be more worried about his horse's hindlegs than his own or his jockey's!"

Source: Racing Comment from Ian Balding - Horse & Hound 28 April 2005


Further news of Chris Kinane

Friends of Chris Kinane, injured three months ago in a paddock incident at Wolverhampton, have set up a fund to help cover his rehabilitation. The aim is for the fund to be legally able to accept donations this month to assist lan Williams's assistant with medical bills and other welfare costs. Since suffering serious head injuries in April, Kinane has undergone a series of operations.

Source:  Horse & Hound 7 July 2005


The Samaritans at Newmarket
The Samaritans are to start a campaign in Newmarket after two grooms apparently killed themselves.
Read more from the Times Online >>>


Road rage driver targets riders

Police are investigating a road rage incident in Newton Poppleford, Devon.  Two riders say they were pinned to a hedge by a car driven by an angry local resident on the morning of 12 June.  The owner of one of the horses, which was being ridden by a 16-year-old girl at the time, said she was distraught.

The woman, who does not want to be named, said: "The girl and a friend of mine were shocked. They were riding past a house on a regular route when a woman came out and ordered them to remove some horse droppings from the road outside the house. "The riders denied their horses were responsible, but the woman's husband then drove up and pinned the horses to a hedge with his car."

A police spokesman said that inquiries are ongoing and that no decision had been made whether prosecutions would be brought.

Source: Horse & Hound 23 June 2005


Strategy for the Horse Industry in England and Wales - progress update


The three month public consultation period for the strategy ended on the 27th May 2005.

Addressing the British Horse Society’s AGM on 23rd of June 2005, Jim Knight MP (the newly appointed Minister for the Horse Industry) said of the strategy "The purpose of this strategy is to foster a robust and sustainable horse industry, to increase its economic value, and enhance its contribution to the social, educational, health and sporting life of the nation.  I am pleased to report that significant progress is being made. The draft document has been very well received and widely supported by all sectors of the horse industry.  Over 185 responses and comments have been received, from interested individuals as well as organisations of all shapes and sizes.  Many responses offer practical and constructive comments and demonstrate the passion and commitment of the people and organisations who make up this diverse industry.  This commitment and support is vital if the strategy is to be implemented successfully and the true benefits of its proposals are to be realised.  We are now working with the BHS and the rest of the British Horse Industry Confederation to consider each and every response received, and to produce the final version of the strategy, which we hope to publish by the end of the year.


At the first sounding board meeting to aid the development of the strategy held on the 16th June 2004 a proposal put forward by one of the speakers was to create an Equestrian Code of Practice – “working with the Health and Safety Executive, the Industry could produce a Code of Practice along the lines of the Australian Horse Industry’s Safe Code of Practice. This would in itself improve the Industry’s image and encourage more people to take part if they could see that everyone in the Industry was working within a safe code of practice.  This proposal did not feature in the consultation draft released on the 28th April 2005.


In a formal response to the strategy Riding Safely commented "There are no specific proposals within the draft strategy that address the management of the risks associated with health, safety and environmental issues that may seriously impact on public and employee health & safety and affect the public perception, viability and business performance of the horse industry”.

Read Riding Safely’s full formal response to the strategy >>>


Health and Safety Executive


Sensible Health and Safety

The debate on the sensible management of risk is underway. The aim is to get the balance right between the unachievable aim of absolute safety and the kind of poor management of risks that damages lives and the economy.  In a nutshell - risk management - not risk elimination.

Find out more from the HSE's new campaign - Sensible Health and Safety >>>


Better Backs

The HSE is running a major national initiative this summer focussed on reducing the incidence of back pain at work. One in five of those who suffer work-related ill health has back pain - bad both for people and for business. The overall aim of the Backs! 2005 initiative is to promote the use of lifting and handling aids as a means of reducing the incidence of back injuries at work.


Road Safety

BHS plans hi-tech rights of way database - 27/06/2005
The British Horse Society has purchased a state-of-the art digital mapping system to record rights of way throughout Britain, including accident hotspots.

Read More >>>


Hickstead hosts road safety day - 18/05/2005
Riders got expert help in training their horses to deal with the hazards on today's roads at a special road safety training and information day at Hickstead.

Read More >>>



A new website has been launched that provides an internet based database of national routes suitable for horse riders. These routes take advantage of bridleways and quite lanes and are accessible to the entire equine community.

Find out more from Bridleways.co.uk >>>

Horse Welfare

New Animal Health and Welfare Advisory Group Appointed

An independent group has been appointed to advise government on implementing the new Animal Health and Welfare Strategy.  Read more from Defra >>>


Animal welfare to take centre stage in Parliament - 18/05/2005
The proposed Animal Welfare Bill will update the definition of cruelty, expand keepers’ responsibilities and introduce specific regulations for riding schools and livery yards

Read More >>>


Blackpool donkeys to be protected by employment rights.
From this summer,
Blackpool's donkeys will be entitled to work a 48 hour week, have an hour off for lunch and every Friday as a rest day.

Read more from Times Online >>>


'Disgraceful' fire youth gets two years

Following on from March

A youth has been given a two-year detention and training order after he admitted causing a fire that killed three horses. The victims' owners are now urging other horse owners to take measures against fire.  Read more >>>


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




Talented young jockey killed - 04/07/2005
Tragedy struck this weekend as Tom Halliday, a promising young conditional jump jockey suffered a fatal fall at Market Rasen.

Read more >>>


Cheshire woman dies in training fall

A policewoman who was an experienced rider has been killed in a fall while cross-country schooling.

Cheshire-based Amanda Stone, 32, was riding her own horse, Joe, at Mitchells Equestrian, Malpas, on 4 June. It appears her death was instantaneous when she broke her neck in a fall about a quarter of the way round the course, in between jumps. An ambulance crew arrived within minutes but Amanda was pronounced dead at the scene.

Amanda, who had ridden since she was five, had visited the course several times before but was there for the first time with a new horse. She was accompanied by a friend, who was in front of her at the time of the accident, so did not see what happened.

Amanda's mother, Jenny, said: "They had cleared a tiny jump and then her friend heard a scream. It was as though something scared or startled the horse or he may have stumbled.

"There is going to be an inquest but I don't think anyone will ever know."

Amanda also competed in dressage at the centre, and had recently qualified for the North-West Regional Dressage Championships.

Jane Warburton, a close friend of Amanda since childhood, when they were both "mad about horses", said: "Amanda was very into dressage and had recently bought a new horse, Joe. He hadn't done anything when she first got him."

Amanda had recently taken a sabbatical from her work at Merseyside Police and was due to start a course in child psychology at Manchester University.

Her mother said that she is trying to come to terms with her loss after initially learning of her daughter's death through a friend calling with condolences.

Amanda's body was taken to Leighton Hospital, Crewe, where a coroner's inquest is pending. Health and safety inspectors have visited Mitchells Equestrian, a former riding school whose facilities include a cross-country course, arenas and a Livery yard. The centre's owners are awaiting the inspectors' report.

A mounted police escort accompanied Amanda's body to the church for her funeral on Wednesday.

Source: Horse & Hound 16 June 2005


Somerset coroner rules 'freak accident'

A West Country horsewoman died after her pony panicked and butted her in a freak accident, an inquest heard last week.

Felicity Edwards, 51, was standing at the back of a horse lorry when her New Forest pony Breeze ran backwards, butting her in the face and then trampling on her.

Mrs Edwards suffered severe head injuries in the incident on 24 May and died at Bristol's Frenchay Hospital the next day.

Returning a verdict of accidental death, East Somerset coroner Tony Williams said Mrs Edwards died after suffering extensive head injuries that she could not have survived.

Source:  Horse & Hound 16 June 2005


Trainer died after horse slipped, inquest hears

A point-to-point trainer died on her birthday after losing control of one of her favourite horses, a coroner heard last week.

Helen Bridges, 65, was riding with her daughter, Lucy, when the accident happened on 20 April 2005. Lucy, 26, who has taken over the family yard at Gears Mill, Shaftesbury, told West Dorset coroner Michael Johnston how the accident happened.

"We went to a gallop at Longbridge Deverill [in Wiltshire]. My mother had a grey called Appache whom she got a year before the accident. It wasn't a good horse. He was strong, but my mother became fond of him and he was her favourite.

"He had got away from her once before at the same place, but she generally didn't have problems because she had very good hands and she could hold most horses. "It was a lovely day. We went for a gentle canter down a slope. We were chatting and she couId not [have been] happier. Her horse was slightly in front; he was quickening. I thought: 'I don't like this,' so I brought mine back to a trot. My mother said: 'I think I'm...' but she didn't finish the sentence."

Mrs Bridges was then hurled to the ground as the horse slipped and fell, leaving her with massive head injuries.

Lucy said that her mother had lost control of the horse at the same spot last October and so had steered him off the track on a bend to avoid going around a corner too fast.

"When it happened [last time], she went on to a tarmac track and managed to stop. Clearly, she thought she had a better chance to stop him on this track again.

"She got out of my sight and the next thing I saw was a figure waIking around, looking dazed, but it was a tractor driver. Her horse was loose and coming back towards me.

"I found my mother lying on the ground with the driver trying to help."

Mrs Bridges, who had been wearing a riding hat, was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, but died shortly after arrival.

Revealing that a post-mortem had given the cause of death as head injuries, Mr Johnston returned a verdict of accidental death.

After the inquest, Richard, Helen's husband and the former head of equestrianism in the Royal Navy, paid tribute to his late wife.

"We achieved successes with some quite poor horses," he said.

"My wife broke her neck twice while riding, but she was passionate and was never going to stop doing it.  Lucy has picked up the family mantle. She'll get a permanent trainer's licence next year."

Source: Horse & Hound 30 June 2005


Rider's death 'accidental'

A verdict of accidental death has been recorded by Exeter and Greater Devon Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland in the case of endurance rider Rod Leight.

Leight, 50, from Cullompten in Devon, died in November after the young horse he was riding reared and threw him under the wheels of a lorry.

Witness Alien Thomas told the inquest: "The lorry slowed right down. The horse got very skittish. The rider tried to control it, but fell off and seemed to hit the wheel before hitting the road. It was no one's fault."

Source: Horse & Hound 2 June 2005


King's Troop horse dies in display collision

A King's Troop horse died after an accident during Sunday night's display at Royal Windsor. The horse was performing a "scissors" manoeuvre when it collided with the limber (gun carriage). No riders or other horses were hurt.

"Everybody here is very upset," said a spokesman for the King's Troop. "But unfortunately accidents do occasionally happen."

Source: Horse & Hound 19 May 2005


Horse put down after collision with car
A horse was put down after a collision with a car in Sussex during the Bank Holiday weekend. Rider Tracy Burlinge, 35, suffered whiplash, but her 16-year-old mare, who had broken legs and internal  injuries, was destroyed at the scene.  The accident happened on Forest  Road. Roffey — which has bends at  each end — near Woodside Equestrian Centre. Burlinge was at the back of a group of five riders.

She is awaiting results of a police investigation in the hope that the driver, a local man, would be prosecuted.  Friends have posted a bumper  sticker with the message "Kill your speed, not my horse" on eBay. This has raised 300 to help with costs such as Holly's removal and cremation: her rider was not insured.

Source: Horse & Hound 16 June 2005


Lifeboat rescues foal from cliff face - 28/06/2005
A six-week-old foal has been rescued from a secluded cove by a local lifeboat after falling down a 20ft cliff.

Read More >>>


Runaway horses take motorway slip

Drivers had to take evasive action on a busy city centre motorway when two horses galloped down the carriageway.

Read more from BBC News >>>


Legislation Update

The proposed new Compensation Bill was announced in the Queen's Speech.

In a recent speech
Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke of a "common sense culture not compensation culture" and went on to say "The new Compensation Bill will do two things. It will limit the work of claims management companies or "claims farmers"............. (and it) will also clarify the existing common law on negligence to make clear that there is no liability in
negligence for untoward incidents that could not be avoided by taking reasonable care or exercising reasonable skill."


Legal Cases

Rider wins damages from bus company

A rider who had a run-in with a double-decker bus is celebrating a "moral victory" after winning 5,500 in damages. Tanya Buchanan, 30, took an Edinburgh bus company to court after what she described as a "very near fatal accident" with her horse four years ago.

In July 2001, Folly, an 11-year-old warm blood, tried to jump a barrier on a flyover to get away from an oncoming bus. Speaking after the ruling at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Buchanan said it was sheer luck that the mare tripped and fell instead of landing on a busy road below. Buchanan was riding out with a friend at the time. She said she signalled repeatedly to the bus driver to stop as he drove towards them on a flyover she had crossed many times. Fellow rider Petronella Apollonia Jeffrey-Hofman testified that the driver, Melville Smith, 49, from Fife, had been looking at a piece of paper on his steering wheel. He looked up, slammed on his brakes and stopped about 2ft away, the court heard. The mare suffered bruised ribs and cuts. Her legs were saved by tendon boots. After the incident, her temperament changed and she had to be moved temporarily to a Iivery yard away from major roads.

Buchanan said that the damages suit was only possible due to legal cover in her insurance policy. The 5,500 award covers replacement of riding gear, medical expenses for a knee injury and the cost of moving to a more expensive yard.

"It's a moral victory taking on a big company," said Buchanan.

A Lothian Buses spokesman confirmed the settlement, but would not discuss details of the case. 

Source: Horse & Hound 16 June 2005



Looking Forward - Diary Dates
The BHS Safety Conference
The BHS Safety Conference will be held on Saturday 17 September 2005 at The Quality Inn, Kenilworth, Warwickshire.
Cost:  15 to BHS Members and 20 to non-members.
Contact:  BHS Safety Department on 01926-707782 for full details or visit the BHS Safety Conference website.
Your Horse Live
The British Equine Event - 5 & 6 November 2005 - Stoneleigh Park.
If you know of any forthcoming equestrian safety related events please contact Riding Safely
Riding Safely is being continuously updated and the newsletter is sent to subscribers every two months.
Riding Safely can keep you updated of forthcoming equestrian events that have safety related content.  If you're interested  then contact Riding Safely and you'll be kept updated.

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


Low Flying Aircraft...

The Stop Lowflying -- give us back our countryside campaign continues>>> 

Information about low flying military helicopter activity can be obtained  from the MOD's freephone number 0800 51 55 44 from 0800 to 1700hrs, Monday to Friday. During British Summer Time the hours will be extended until 2000hrs.


and what's new on the site....

Site Updates

A facility has been added so that you can quickly and easily find out what's been updated on the site - check it out >>>


and finally....

Recipe for riding school success - 12/07/2005
In turbulent times for riding schools, Horse & Hound Online looks at how to maximise the potential of your equestrian business.

Read more >>> 


Reflective Donkeys

People and donkeys should be safer in Namibia (South Africa) due to a scheme devised by British donkey lovers Russel Hay and Peter Collingwood. Over 90 people die every year as a result of road accidents involving donkeys who fall asleep on warm tarmac roads at night. The "reflector" scheme is quite simple, reflective tags similar to those worn by livestock in the UK will be attached to the ears of most of the country's 200,000 donkeys. A charity has been formed to provide funding. The tags will be produced by Ritchey Tagg in Masham, North Yorkshire.

This summary is based on an article "Shining future for glowing donkeys" that appeared in the Sunday Times 26/06/2005


Visit the all of the News Archive >>>>>

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