H&H’s eventing columnist on why we must sort the flag rule now to avoid disaster
'The rule about missing flags across country caused an unsettling furore in the spring. All are in agreement that the 2019 rule doesn’t work, but it couldn’t be changed mid-season. However, we now have time to consider the draft 2020 rules before they are ratified. The problem with the current rule is that no part of the horse’s shoulder can pass beyond the imaginary line where the flag was originally positioned — this means any contact between the horse’s shoulder and the flag is given 15 penalties. Applying the rule as it was written has been very unpopular. As such — after endless reviews, decisions which not even the officials imposing them believed were fair and petitions — we have reached a workable compromise for this year in which ground juries wilfully ignore the rule, using their power to “interpret” the rules as they see fit. But it’s imperative that we get it right now for 2020. We cannot expect officials to flout the rule at an Olympics or appeals will be inevitable — so we must get this sorted in the current round of amendments. Let the shoulder move the flag Over the past 12 months, I’ve forensically studied the wording of this rule throughout its evolution over the past decade; the problems arose when the words “as originally flagged” were added at the start of 2019. So long as the line that cannot be crossed is the original position of the flag (rather than the actual flag), it can only be judged with rulers on a screen showing a horse in slow motion. In April, riders and the international officials’ club proposed two sets of wording for the 2020 rule to the FEI, an initial one and shortly after an updated version. Unfortunately the FEI have taken our first proposal, which was superseded by the second, as a basis for their rule. Even I, the author of the first proposal, do not support it! The FEI’s proposed rule for 2020 states that the horse has missed the flag if the shoulder (to the point in front of the saddle) jumps “outside the extremities of the element or obstacle as originally flagged”. But everyone agrees that we must allow the shoulder to move the flag without penalty. The rule therefore needs to say that the head, neck and point of the shoulder (the corner of the horse) must pass inside the flags (without any wording about “originally flagged”) and the hindquarters must jump the fence. If a horse fails to go clear as defined above, this should be classed as a run-out for 20 penalties, not 15 for missing a flag. With more straightforward parameters applied, a rider will know if they faulted, so continuing on course without re-presenting will incur elimination. A serious matter This may feel like a boring discussion, but if the wording is not rectified, it could lead to Olympic medals being wrongly awarded. The current rule also encourages backwards riding and training. Also, jumping away from flags at the widest point of the fence and holding a horse to an angled fence without allowing a necessary drift to bring the shoulder up from a deep take-off spot is dangerous. We have a proposed rule that is supported by riders, officials and national federations, which is more straightforward to judge and provides the result it is designed for — horses are not penalised unless they clearly do not jump the fence. After all the hard work, only the final hurdle remains — for the FEI to adopt it. We can then all move forward in unison! Ref Horse & Hound; 18 July 2019'
H&H’s eventing columnist on why we must sort the flag rule now to avoid disaster
Best horse racing tips for today’s action at Hamilton, Chepstow, Leicester, Ffos Las and Epsom from Tom Bull
THE ground is getting quicker by the minute and with a few proper fast-ground tracks in action on Thursday, horses with a penchant for firm conditions come to the fore. I’ve picked out a few of my best bets on an afternoon of sunshine. Hamilton 3.10
'THE ground is getting quicker by the minute and with a few proper fast-ground tracks in action on Thursday, horses with a penchant for firm conditions come to the fore. I’ve picked out a few of my best bets on an afternoon of sunshine. Hamilton 3.10 Greengage – Only had two starts for Tristan Davidson but was much improved last time when tried in a hood, rallying for second. He couldn’t get a run at a vital stage then and should have a big run in him off a 1lb higher mark. Another slight drop in trip looks a good move and he’s primed to strike now having his third run back following a lengthy break. Chepstow 5.05 Seaborn – Patrick Chamings’ five-year-old has been in the form of his life recently, with two wins and two seconds from his last four starts. His recent form is way ahead of his rivals and despite a defeat last time at 6-4f, he finished four lengths clear of the third (who has gone on to run well again). He’s 5lb higher now but this track will suit his running style and his decent claimer knows him well. \t \t\t \t\t\t Bully's Thursday Bankers \t\t \t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t Hamilton 3.10 – Greengage (latest odds) Chepstow 5.05 – Seaborn (latest odds) Leicester 3.50 – Reggae Runner (latest odds) Ffos Las 7.30 – Pink Eyed Pedro Epsom 8.15 – Peace Prevails (latest odds) \t\t \t \t Leicester 3.50 Reggae Runner – Mark Johnston’s horses are running out of their skin at the moment and his three-year-old bounced back to firm dramatically last time out. It may have only been a four runner race but the runner-up had won convincingly on his previous outing and the front two finished clear of the third. A 3lb rise is more than fair and he should follow up under ideal conditions. Ffos Las 7.30 Pink Eyed Pedro – Gelding has been in the form of his life with two recent wins, first over hurdles and then over fences. He’s back over the smaller obstacles now and under a 7lb penalty is 1lb well-in, so should be more than capable of landing the hat-trick. Connor Brace is terrific value for his claim and his mount clearly thrives at this track. Epsom 8.15 Peace Prevails – Somehow, Jim Boyle’s filly has only been given a 5lb penalty for her romp over C&D last time out. This is not as strong a contest despite the hike in grade, and she’s fully expected to make it two out of two. He’s on a good mark on his old form and should be able to do the business. \t\t \t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t'
Horse racing live: Wednesday’s runners, tips, latest news, gossip and results as Frankie Dettori heads to Killarney
THERE are five meetings to keep us entertained around the UK today, while Killarney’s July Festival continues with Frankie Dettori heading over for four rides this evening. We will keep you up to date with all the latest breaking stories right here,
When a horse won’t pee, how can you persuade him? Lesley Barwise-Munro MRCVS talks about waterworks
'Each horse has a different pattern of urination — when, where and how much he pees. Normal urine production is typically 15-30 ml/kg daily, which for an average 500kg horse totals around 15 litres. Measuring urine output is not easy, in practical terms, but this equates to a horse peeing around five or six times per day, with a normal stream of urine lasting 30 seconds. A healthy bladder holds 300-400mls of urine. We have to assume that a horse with a full bladder will feel uncomfortable and may lack concentration, so ideally he will pee before he competes. Ways of encouraging a horse to go at home, before a short journey, include walking him out on to grass or moving him on to fresh bedding. Some can be trained to urinate in response to whistling or even when a bucket is produced. Long journeys are more challenging, as some horses will not urinate on the lorry — especially geldings, who may worry about having insufficient room to stretch out or that urine will splash on their legs. If a horse won’t go when he gets to the venue, try unloading him on to grass, spreading new straw or shavings on the lorry floor or even hiring a stable so you can lay down some new bedding. More often than not, a horse will pass urine before he suffers any significant ill-effects. On occasion, however, he may experience more than discomfort by holding it in. A full bladder bouncing off the pelvic bones during strenuous exercise has been reported to cause bladder damage and blood in the urine, especially if there are abnormal bony protuberances in the pelvis. In full flow Urination allows the body to eliminate waste, so the urinary tract — the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra — also plays an important role in electrolyte balance, blood volume and regulation of blood pressure. Urine is typically straw-yellow to pale brown in colour and may be cloudy due to the mucus and calcium carbonate crystals present. A horse with free access to water tends to have paler urine, while an animal in hard work and possibly sweating a lot, in hot weather, may produce more concentrated and stronger-smelling urine that is darker yellow or brown. A natural oxidation process can turn urine red-brown — this is particularly noticeable on a bed of new shavings and can be mistaken for blood in the urine. Urine should stay the same colour throughout the stream. The timing of any discolouration should be noted — knowing whether it changes at the beginning, middle or end of the stream can help to locate the problem. Consistent discolouration is usually indicative of myoglobinuria (muscle damage) caused by the condition tying up, or could be a sign of atypical myopathy caused by sycamore poisoning. Abnormal colour at the beginning or end of the stream may indicate a lesion in the urethra, or, in a stallion, the accessory sex glands. Blood in the urine is a serious concern and requires veterinary attention. Kidney infections are uncommon in adult horses, but blood may be a sign of cystitis, which is more common in mares because of a shorter urethra. Bladder or urethral stones (calculi) can cause partial obstruction during urination; the horse may try to pee repeatedly but only pass small amounts, usually with some blood present. By knowing what’s normal for your horse, you’ll be more tuned in to any changes that may be a cause for concern. Ref Horse & Hound; 11 July 2019'
Here’s some tips on how to get the most from your training session and make them count from top young dressage rider Joanna Thurman-Baker
'You’ve worked tirelessly at home on improving technique or refining skills in your favourite discipline but you want more. Here’s some tips on how to get the most from your training session and make them count from top young dressage rider Joanna Thurman-Baker. Joanna (pictured), is part of the World Class programme and competes a variety of horses to international level, which includes two rides given to her by Carl Hester, who also helps her train. In 2017 Joanna was part of the British team at the young rider European championships riding Highcliffe Apollo, with whom she is now competing up to grand prix. So what’s her advice? 1. Go into the session with a clear mind. Forget about work troubles or that you forgot to put the washing out. Now is the time to focus on your horse. 2. Have an action plan of what you are going to work on. You don’t have to stick to the plan, but at least if you have one, you can attempt to follow and progress yourself and the horse. 3. Work with mirrors if possible. These are invaluable as it’s like you are your own trainer. Alternatively, film a few sessions weekly. Then watch and learn. 4. If working with a trainer, be open to trying new things. Sometimes the answer lies outside the box. 5. Be brave! Push yourself out of your comfort zone and really see how much you can do. Remember you are allowed to make mistakes — that’s what the home training is for. 6. If you’re practising for a dressage test, don’t go mad going through it 100 times. Your horse could get too used to the test and start taking over and anticipating the movements. Spice things up and add in a few of your own movements to keep things fresh. 7. Don’t work your horse for longer than 45 minutes. For most, it won’t benefit them in the long run. Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these dressage competitions available to enter where you can show off what you’ve learnt… Unaffiliated fun dressage Date: 20 July Venue: High Plains Equestrian Centre, Riding Mill Details: “This unaffiliated dressage competition features classes ranging between intro and novice. Riders will warm up in small groups and ride both tests. Results will not be available until the following day and sheets will be posted out. We restrict entries in classes so you definitely will get a rosette!” Enter now British Dressage Date: 21 July Venue: Alnwick Ford Equestrian Details: “This competition has classes from prelim to inter II with qualifiers and freestyle classes too.” Enter now Unaffiliated dressage Date: 21 July Venue: Pebsham Equestrian Centre, Bexhill on Sea Details: “This unaffiliated competition features classes ranging between intro and elementary with a prix caprilli class too.” Enter now Stressless dressage Date: 21 July Venue: Ladyleys, Oldmeldrum Details: “Warm up in our indoor school for 20 minutes then ride a dressage test of your choice without having to leave the arena.” Enter now British Dressage Date: 23 July Venue: Stretcholt Equestrian Centre, Bridgwater Details: “Classes range between medium and grand prix plus there are para classes too.” Enter now Evening dressage Date: 26 July Venue: Wix Equestrian Centre, Manningtree Details: “This competition has classes range from intro to medium, starting at 5pm.” Enter now Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings'
A NEW week dawns in the world of horse racing, with four meetings around the country. We will keep you up to date with all the latest breaking stories right here, while we will also look back at a memorable weekend of action. For all your betting
'A NEW week dawns in the world of horse racing, with four meetings around the country. We will keep you up to date with all the latest breaking stories right here, while we will also look back at a memorable weekend of action. For all your betting needs, download our app here.'
H&H’s showing columnist asks if those who don’t ride should be judging performance
'One of the major differences between horse and pony classes is that pony judges assess the performance visually, as opposed to riding the animals presented to them. That can make a huge difference, especially if a pony performance judge doesn’t have riding experience. I appreciate that assessing way of going is covered in judging assessments. However, as everyone who rides knows, riders have a much better idea of what other riders are trying to hide. It’s usually far harder to gain a good performance mark from a judge who is or has been an experienced rider than from one who can see the picture but doesn’t have the same appreciation of how it’s being created. For a start, riders know the tricks! Let’s be honest, we all know that if you need to press the accelerator or brake a bit harder, you pick your spot in the ring and use the outside aids in the hope that you don’t catch a judge’s attention for the wrong reasons. Raise the standards Showmanship is part of the art of showing. But performance judges who have done it literally through the seat of their jodhs will have a far greater understanding of the difference between a pony who goes properly and one who simply ticks along achieving the correct canter leads but not, for example, working from behind or making good transitions. And from my experience they also use a much larger range of marks. This, to me, begs a big question. Should all organisations operate two judges’ panels, rather than one? Would it be fairer — and raise standards of performance among riders — to have one panel for conformation judges and one for performance? Applicants could obviously apply for one or both, but I’d like to see performance judges able to demonstrate not only that they have riding experience in any given discipline, but that they can differentiate between a superficially pretty picture and the “real deal”. Societies sometimes find it hard to recruit judges and I know this would create extra administrative work, but it would raise standards and go a fair way to help kibosh regular ringside grumblings, which is surely what we all want. Stopping the spread The number of equine flu cases keeps rising. So why can’t shows get their act together and have a standard policy on checking vaccination certificates? To help avoid further spread it is imperative for checks to be carried out by qualified individuals, before animals are unloaded. At South of England, competitors were advised that passport checks would be carried out in the collecting ring. By that time, the virus could already be spreading across the showground. And what about shows where they don’t actually ensure that the passport presented for checking matches up with the animal entered? Or the case I heard of recently, where a pony was wrongly turned away because the passport checker looked at its tetanus status rather than whether it had the correct flu protection? Ref Horse & Hound; 11 July 2019'