27 Apr 2011


With Royal wedding fever spreading across the country, hundreds are expected to line the streets of London and get caught up in the pomp and ceremony. By Elizabeth Pears, Voice-online.co.uk
All eyes will be on bride-to-be Kate Middleton, and The Dress, but on April 29, Met Police constable Jason Witham may be keeping a closer eye on things than most.
If chosen to be part of the prestigious Grey Escort – a special police guard on horseback – former chef Witham and his horse Fulham will help guide Prince William and Kate’s extravagant wedding procession to Westminster Abbey.
Crowds of cheering well-wishers waving banners and flags are anticipated and the escort is crucial to ensuring the happy occasion goes off without a hitch.
It will be some change from watching the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles on TV with his Jamaican parents at the family home in Enfield, to being the only black face in a handpicked group of the Mounted Branch’s best riders.
The father of two said:
“It never crossed my mind. Never did I think I would be involved in something like this. I am not banking on it, but it would be nice. It’s a one-off sort of thing. Fulham is absolutely the right horse for what will be a very busy day. He’s very solid and not easily spooked. If I see something on the side of the road, I know whether it is something he will react to and I can get prepared for it. To know the horse, and for them to know you, is the best thing.”
Although security and crowd control is at the top of the agenda, the Grey Escort, named after the grey-coated horses who form the contingent, will help add to the glamour of the day.
Preparation for the big day will mean a lot of shining, buffing and mane styling, and the chosen few have been practicing trotting in a line of four, in perfect synchrony.
Constable Witham joined the Met Police in 2002, and after a couple of years wanted to specialise in something. He felt that the Mounted Branch was the only thing that “rocked his boat.
With a negligible amount of previous riding experience, he successfully got through the arduous application process, underwent a gruelling 16-week course, and started work in November 2008.
He said: “I get a lot of comments every day, especially from black people who say they have never seen a black person on a horse. My answer is, ‘You have now’. That easily happens about 30 or 40 times a day. If I had a pound each time, I’d be rich.”

19 Apr 2011


badminton horse trials iphone appbadminton horse trials iphone app

Who is looking forward to Badminton Horse Trials this year? We certainly are and the guys over at Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials have gone truly mobile for the 2011 event with the launch of an iPhone App that brings all the news, views, interviews and results to your iPhone
badminton horse trials iphone appWhether you are at the event or following the event discreetly from work, the app is the perfect companion for keeping right up to date with all that is happening at the event. In addition to live results and news, the app also has access to all the latest video, photographs, audio interviews and the live Badminton Radio webcast.


7 Apr 2011

Meet Luna – the cow who thinks shes a horse


When Regina Mayer’s parents dashed her hopes of getting a horse, the resourceful 15-year-old instead turned to a very different type of animal to make her riding dreams come true – a cow called Luna.
Hours of training, and tons of treats, cajoling and caresses later, the results are impressive – not only do the two regularly go on long rides through the southern German countryside, they do jumps over a makeshift hurdle of beer crates and painted logs.Luna, brown-and-white and German- born and bred, responds well to commands of “Go!”, “Stay!” and “Gallop!” She is a model of what can be achieved by a bossy, determined schoolgirl. Regina began the training two years ago by taking Luna for walks in the woods led by an increasingly long line attached to a halter. After six months Regina started to saddle her up.
“She was really well behaved and walked normally,” said the cowgirl, who lives in Laufen, near the Austrian border. “But after a few steps she wanted me off her back.”
Regina consulted a specialist cow academy in Kilchberg, Switzerland. The cow college is run by Anne Wiltafsky, a philosopher. Its mission is to show that cows can do as much as horses – and that they can be more loyal.

Her advice to Regina: cows will learn if they are enjoying themselves. Reward them with carrots and crispbread, whisper to them so that they associate your voice with good things – and they will do what you say: at least until they get bored and decide to munch grass.
Luna can now jump over obstacles a metre high. However, will an increasingly swollen udder handicap Luna’s showjumping career? Will there ever be a Royal Ascot for cows?

Apparently oblivious to these, and udder problems, Luna has been leading a happy life. “She keeps chasing after real horses and tries to make contact with them,” Regina said, “but they want nothing to do with her.”

Injured driver sues horse owner for £3.8m


A woman whose horses strayed onto the A46 is being sued for £3.8m by a motorist who was badly injured when his car collided with one of them. By Charlotte White, Horse & Hound
It is believed to be the largest sum demanded in a case involving a loose horse
David Owen of Broadway, Worcester, was driving his Fiat Punto at 5.50am on 25 February 2008 when he hit one of two horses, belonging to Amanda Johnson, he told H&H.
The horse landed on his car roof and crushed him, breaking his neck in four places and damaging his lower spine.
He now suffers back, leg and neck pain and headaches and is unable to work. In 2010 the 62-year-old needed spinal surgery.
“The police told me it was the ninth recorded incident of horses being on the road in this area,” said Mr Owen.
Mrs Johnson, of Parks Farm House, Aldington, Evesham, was prosecuted at Worcester Magistrates Court on 29 September 2008.
She pleaded guilty to the offence under the Animals Act 1971 of allowing her horses to be on the road and was fined £750 with costs of £60
Now Mr Owen wants compensation. He accuses Mrs Johnson of negligence, saying shefailed to keep her horses in a securely fenced field, and failed to take steps to stop trespassers from damaging the fence by climbing over it.
Mrs Johnson failed to ensure her fences were robust enough and that gates were closed and secured, the writ says.
She failed to repair a fence which was damaged by a flood, failed to check the fences often enough, and failed to maintain the fencing, it is alleged.
Mr Owen, a construction maintenance engineer, says his inability to work has led to demands from business creditors asking him to sell his premises in Evesham.
He wants an immediate payment of £400,000 and puts his total claim at £3,871,421. This includes more than £46,000 in solicitors’ and barrister’s fees.
Mrs Johnson was contacted by H&H but did not return our calls.
No date has yet been set for the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (31 March, 2011)

4 Apr 2011

Mini horses can now be used as guide animals

Mona Ramouni plays with her guide horse,

Mini horses can now be used as guide animals after petition changes disability guidelines

People who require a service animal to assist with a disability usually use a guide dog, or in some cases a helper monkey. But new federal guidelines will now permit the use of… miniature horses.
A petition sent to the Department of Justice, by owners and trainers of mobility horses,  has prompted a change in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines.
Mona Ramouni, 30, a blind woman who lives in East Lansing, Michigan, is the proud owner of a guide horse – called Cali.
She ended up with her unusual helper after going blind shortly after birth. She could not have a traditional guide dog because her devout Muslim family considered dogs unclean animals.
Miss Ramouni said: ‘As much work as she is – and she is a lot more work than a dog – I would not trade her for 10 dogs.
She attends classes at both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan with five-year-old Cali (short for Mexicali Rose), who is roughly the size of a large dog.
Emily Weiss, senior director of shelter research and development for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said: ‘You can train them to do some pretty amazing things.’
Ms Weiss said most horses lived into their late twenties and early thirties, two or three times the lifespan of a dog.
Miss Ramouni says she wrote to everyone she knew, asking them to petition the Department of Justice to include miniature horses in the new ADA law.
Dolores Arste, who trained Cali, said five other minis in the U.S. served as guides for the blind, and all the other trainers wrote to the Department of Justice.
Drinks break: Mona and Cali take a couple of minutes out from class work for much-needed refreshments
Unlike service animals, who learn to turn off lights, open refrigerators and pick up dropped objects, guide animals have to lead their handlers around danger, get into cars and onto public transportation and follow others.
Because a guide animal’s job was to get the handler safely from Point A to Point B, ‘they have to able and willing to disobey commands, so it takes a special dog or horse,’ Ms Arste said.
If there were tools or toys or debris on a path, the animal had to resist even if the handler said go, she explained.
On the other hand, the animal also had to trust the handler to make the final decision.
Miss Ramouni recalled Cali hesitating at a flight of stairs, but ultimately accepting Ramouni’s urging to go.
She said: ‘She trusted me enough to do it for me.’
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Mount Bovers Bridleway in Rochford

BHS Bridleway

Marlene Curtis BHS Essex AABO is pleased to confirm that a recent local inquiry into the Mount Bovers route in Rochford, Essex, means that the route has been upgraded to bridleway status.
“This has caused a lot of rider anxiety for the past ten years” said Marlene, so it’s fantastic that the route has been upgraded to bridleways status.
“Thanks must go to the thirty-three riders who confirmed their riding use of this route between 1947 and 2006. Especial thanks go to the seven determined riders who attended a public inquiry in January to convince the inspector in person, not forgetting the additional good Statutory Declaration submitted!”
The Order means that the existing public footpath has been upgraded with wider widths to use, so that there will be plenty of room for everyone to use it – including of course horse riders, and pedal cyclists.
The widths are Honeypots Lane – 4m, the cross-field path – 3m and Mount Bovers Lane – 5m.
Happy riding everyone!