A warm welcome awaited us at the Defence Animal Centre at Melton Mowbray, where the Equine Training Squadron provides training to all the services, and the BHS East Midlands have been allowed the opportunity to hold a residentail training camp on the base.
Neither the BHS nor the DAC are aware of a joint venture of this kind having taken place before and the 15 lucky BHS members were feeling very excited, a little nervous, and there was a definite air of anticipation.
Arriving Friday afternoon allowed time to settle the horses in ‘B’ Line, a row of 15 timber built loose boxes with views down the hill towards Melton Mowbray, and the riders into their en-suite accommodation ready for a bright and early start the next day.
Morning training sessions focused on flatwork for all groups either in the massive indoor school, with its impressive vaulted roof, the outdoor arena or the sand school.
In the afternoons Sam York BHSI took groups who were working on improving their jumping with grid work, and demonstrated the variety of effective exercises that can be performed using a simple grid; meanwhile Peter Hales BHSI, worked with others using the jumping lane, the cross country fences or the canter track.
Adam Betts and LCoH Tony Glass, the Army Equine Instructors based at the DAC took the cross country riders to the beautiful and pristine front field where the cross country fences are laid out in front of the impressive and historic brick built stables complex. Obstacles there include ditches, a Derby Bank and other beautiful prepared cross country obstacles - all watched by an audience of curious army horses enjoying their summer break in the neighbouring field.
Feedback discussions followed every ridden session, and there were also topical and relevant lectures from the onsite experts. CoH Chris McCabe, AWCF from the Army School of Farriery talked about balance and soundness and Sgt Tanya Davies from Veterinary Training Squadron discussed common injuries and treatments and demonstrated the correct way to do a trot up and what to look for. There was also video dressage judging with Sam York and discussions on feeding and conditioning.
Grateful thanks go to our instructors and the staff at the Defence Animal Centre who looked after us so well and allowed us this memorable experience. Everybody went home tired and feeling very privileged to have benefitted from first class training by top trainers using superb facilities in a unique and special environment and feeling a step closer to achieving their goals.
All images by kind permission of Geoff Marston Animal Portrait and Landscape Photographer.