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A Safe and Supple Lancashire

28 Oct 2015

BHS Lancashire’s ‘Supple and Safe’ evening in October had many of us checking the standard and fit of our own riding hats, followed by a fascinating talk on Equine Osteopathy and a live demonstration using Tom’s lovely dog, Boots, who stole the show!

With the changes to Riding Hat legislation standards coming into effect on 1 January 2016, a crowd gathered to learn from Tina and Sue of Equiemporium how these changes will affect them. Tina explained that understanding how riders fall has led to developments in riding hats and improved safety standards. These changes mean that hats need to meet at least PAS 015, in order for use at competition and BHS Approved Centres. Many of the new, compliant hats are bulkier due to offering more crucial protection around the temples (side of head behind the eyes). Equiemporium brought along a varied selection of older riding hats which had been sawn in half so everyone could have a good look inside.  Heat, sweat and even hairspray affects the inner liner which deteriorates over time. The liner really does matter! The room learnt that when you hit your head the outer shell of the riding hat lessens the impact, and then the air bubbles in the inner liner burst to absorb the impact and protect your head. Many of the audience brought along their own hats to check their fit, and see if they do meet the new standards. Most importantly, all were advised to seek professional advice if you are in doubt if your current hat fits or complies with the new standards.

The evening continued with Tom Austen’s fascinating talk on Equine and Human Osteopathy. Tom, from 3 Hares Equine Performance, described how an examination of a horse would start by taking a full history.  The treatment then involves checking all the joints as demonstrated on Boots! The treatment uses massage, stretching and joint mobilisation to improve blood supply, regulate nerves and rebalance movement. Tom explained that Osteopaths focus on releasing pressure using different methods to those of Physiotherapists and Chiropractors! It is worth discussing before you start treatment and Tom explained that Osteopaths tend to offer a wider range of interventions. Using a model of the spine, Tom reminded everyone as to how good carrot stretches are for horses (head between legs for a treat or reaching round to a side for a treat!). The carrot stretch will stretch the withers, back and neck of the horse and gently encourages a range of movement. Boots the dog loved the treatment and was very well behaved, and admired by a room full of horse riders! Tom advised that more often than not he is asked to look at a horse when it is clear that it is the rider who is unbalanced and stiff! Tom used a model of a human spine and pelvis to describe the different sections of the back and why many riders suffer bad backs, and explained how the strength of the rider’s core muscles is important for stability when riding, protects the riders back and helps improve the horse’s performance.

Thank you to the Farmers Arms, Bispham, for letting us use the function room and making us welcome. Thank you also to Sandra Twist, a volunteer for BHS Lancashire, who donated the raffle prizes.

Thank you to our excellent presenters Sue Atherton and Tina Marriott of Equiemporium, and Tom Austen of 3 Hares Equine Performance.

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