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Even if you don’t own a horse, there are still plenty of ways you can get involved.
Equestrian events can’t run without an army of volunteers and it’s the perfect way to experience all the excitement of a competition and you get to watch horses all day – what could be better?
Although you may not get paid, you’ll receive training – plus refreshments throughout the day.
Many yards and stables run competitions, if you’re keen to get involved and offer your services as a volunteer here are a few of the jobs you could be asked to do:
You’ll sit alongside a dressage judge, writing their comments and scores as each competitor rides their test.
This is a great opportunity to learn more about what the judge is looking for.
The ability to listen and stay focussed will help, as well as being able to write quickly and neatly.
This role can be quite varied and may include directing show riders to their class or marshalling the warm-up area making sure it all runs smoothly.
Staying calm under pressure and the ability to organise others will make this job easy.
As the title says, you’ll be sat by a cross-country fence and you’ll record refusals or falls on a scoresheet for each competitor.
A great way to get up close to all the action, it's based outside, so be prepared and take plenty of clothing and a chair to sit on, or you can sit in your car.
We all know that hacking on the roads isn’t without risk and with some simple planning and some road-safety know-how you’ll be far safer when you venture out. Read on for some hacking safety tips!
While it’s not mandatory, wearing hi-vis should be considered an absolute must when riding on the roads. Being bright and visible will help motorists to see you earlier and that is reason enough.
There’s now plenty of choice when it comes to hi-vis products and we’re no longer restricted to the unflattering hi-vis tabards of old…not that it matters! A little hi-vis goes a long way so be sure to slap some on and the more the merrier. Available in the shops are coats, tabbards, hat bands, breeches, leg and tail bands, breast plates and exercise sheets. So, if you don’t have any hi-vi, use our advice as an excuse to go shopping. It doesn’t cost the earth and it could save your life – it’s a simple as that. If you’re currently hacking without hi-vis please make a change today – hi-vis matters.
Don’t risk injury
Wear a body protector and/or air jacket and ALWAYS wear a properly fastening riding hat – there’s no excuse. You’ve only got one head!
Inform a friend
Always tell someone where you’re going and give an estimated time of return. If something happens, you can be confident they’ll come looking for you. Just remember to let that person know if you’re running late so they don’t worry.
You could even get some added peace of mind by installing an app like the Horse Rider SOS’ app on your phone. This app monitors your movements as you ride and, in the event of a fall the app will enter “Alert mode’ and kick off a rescue process. Download it at www.horseridersos.com
If your horse is new, green or simply inexperienced on the roads be sure you’re ready to hit the roads before you do. Have a lesson and ensure all the basics are in place. Can you maintain control of your horse and do you know what to do in the event of a spook? If not, ask your trainer for some advice to ensure the basics are in place before you hack out – it will give you and your horse confidence.
Always be alert
It’s lovely to hack out with friends but being alert as you ride on the roads is vital so take care not to be distracted as you ride. Save chit-chat for off-road tracks and be sure to thank motorists who slow down to pass you.
Report incidents on the road
If nobody knows about incidents involving horses and riders on the road, nothing can be done to combat the. This is why the BHS urges riders to report an accident or incident on the roads. With the information, it’s easier for them to lobby those in power to make a change. So, if you’ve had an accident on the road with your horse be sure to report it to Horse Accidents – it’s never too late.
Take the BHS Riding & Road Safety Test
More than 4,000 take the BHS Riding and Road Safety test each year and while it’s not essential, it is sensible! To find out more, visit the BHS website.
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The Expert: Justine Davies - Justine is a doctor, rider and journalist, who understands jugling a busy working life with caring for horses.
Riding during pregnancy is a personal choice - it probably doesn't have any effect on a healthy pregnancy but there's always a risk of an injury.
Whether or not to ride during pregnancy really comes down to personal choice. Many riders, including Sylvia Loch, think it's too risky. However, in his report for the Hong Kond Jockey Club, Professor Michael Rogers - an obstetrician at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong - writes: "In a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy, horse riding per se does not cause any obstetric problems unless an accident occurs."
You can imagine the scene - you put your horse in the field and he gleefully trots over to his companion, mane flowing, tail raised. His friend asks why he's so happy and gets the reply: "My rider is pregnant - no work for me for at least nine months."
You, meanwhile, will probably not be so keen on giving up one of your favourite pastimes.
There are three main reasons why women are cautious about riding during pregnancy. The first reason is that horse riding is exercise and women are often confused about how much exercise to do during pregnancy. For at least 150 years, women have been advised that they should only do light, stretching exercise during their pregnancies and up until fairly recently, women were also advised to have a month of 'laying in' after giving birth to recuperate.
Nowadays, continuing to exercise during pregnancy is recognised as a good thing for both mother and the baby - but still, the majority of doctors are cautious and will only recomment that pregnant women walk, swin or do yoga.
Despite this, many women do quite vigorous exercise such as running and aerobics during pregnancy and doctors have found that, unless the woman has a history of early labour or miscarriage, more vigorous exercise probably doesn't do them any harm. So, from the point of view of horse riding being an exercise, it shouldn't cause you too much harm during pregnancy.
The second thing that concerns pregnant women is the percussive, or jurky nature, of horse riding - they worry that this and the open pelvis position that they sit in may cause miscarriage. No one has compared the rate of miscarrage in women who ride throughout their pregnancy with those who don't ride, so it's difficult to say whether or not horse riding can cause a miscarrage. But, if you do have a previous history of miscarrage, it's probably better not to ride during your pregnancy.
The third and probably most important concern of women who are thinking of riding while pregnant, is the risk of injury. There's no doubt that horse riding can cause injury and falling from a horse or being on the receiving end ofa kick may well put both you and baby at risk.
Fact - If you decide to ride while pregnant, but experience swelling of the hands, feet or face, seek medical help
Be kind to yourself
Although riding is part of our lives, we need to recognise that our horses are usually going to be skipping with joy if we have to take some time off riding.
For a horse, being ridden is like riding a bike and once taught they don't forget - although they may pretend to forget every now and again!
For this reason, if you do have to stop riding for a while, don't worry - you and your horse will soon get back into it.
The most important thing is that when you do ride, you make sure you're as fit as you can be so that both you and your horse have a great time and enjoy yourselves, whatever you're doing.
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Keeping control of your horse in an open space such as a field or out on a hack can be challenging, particularly if he spots his friends in the next field or the freedom goes to his head.
The aim of the game is to make him think that open spaces are pretty ordinary and nothing to get over excited about, so spend as much time as you can with your horse relaxing away from the arena.
-Ride him calmly in a new field
-Lunge him in an open space or long-line him down a quiet lane
The more time he spends outside with you in a calm and controlled environment, the more relaxed he’ll become when you take him to new places and ride new routes out of your arena.
Rosie’s top tip
If you’re particularly nervous about venturing out of the arena alone, enlist the help of an experienced friend to either walk alongside you on foot or ride with you at first – but make sure their horse is a sensible, confident type who will happily take the lead.
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