If you love hacking be sure to visit the BHS website to find out what you can do to support the fight for access

If you love hacking be sure to visit the BHS website to find out what you can do to support the fight for access

The 2012 National Equine Forum

By Imogen Johnson

13 March 2012 15:40

Last week I trundled along to the 2012 National Equine Forum in London.

From the off the line up was great – a selection of fantastic speakers including: Catriona Cook from the BHS, Roly Owers the Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare and Professor Derek Knottenbelt to name but a few.

I’ve been lucky to hear Derek, a Professor of Equine Internal Medicine at the University of Liverpool, speak a couple of times prior to the Forum and each time he’s been entertaining, informative and inspiring – and this occasion was no exception.

Derek’s passion for his work and research is fantastic and he really knows how to make people stop and think. I’ve always found his talks on sarcoids really fascinating and this time around he also discussed the horror of head shaking.

He showed some shocking footage of this terrible condition at it’s worst – a horse in such distress in his stable that he could barely stand. It really did hammer home how serious head shaking can be. I watched in shock as another video showed a horse simply unable to eat his hay due to the intense pain he experienced on the lightest contact of his muzzle with his hay. When discussing the most severe of cases Derek even went as far as to say: “these horses are in severe pain and would, if they could, shoot themselves.”

Head shaking is often referred to as a ‘vice’ but Derek is adamant that this should not be the case and having heard his talk and watched his footage I couldn’t agree more. Of course there are varying degrees of severity when it comes to head shaking but it must be taken seriously. If you have experience of head shaking let us know on our Facebook page or forum pages.

Earlier in the day Catriona Cook, the Yorkshire Regional Access and Bridleways Officer for the BHS, also had some shocking footage to show. Her talk focused on the need to ensure that riders have access to bridleways across the UK now and into the future – to defend, extend and promote a network of safer, more easily accessible off-road riding and carriage driving. Her video showed how easily tragic accidents can happen as a result of riding on the roads and she urged us to spread the word on fighting for access. If you, like me, enjoy hacking out in the Great British countryside this is a cause not to be ignored. To find out how you can get involved, make some noise and support the work Catriona and those at the BHS do for us go to www.bhs.org.uk Plus visit www.emagin.org or www.ride-uk.org.uk for details or routes around the UK.

The rest of the Forum was no less interesting with information on the 2012 Olympic Games, the protection of native breeds against over breeding and an update from Nick Meakin, Chairman of the National Equine Database plus more. It was a great day and a great opportunity to find out what’s going on across the board in the equestrian industry so a huge thank you and congratulations must go out to the organisers and speakers.

To find out more visit www.bef.co.uk and head to the National Equine Forum section on the left hand side