Saturday 11 April saw the Worcestershire BHS 2014 event programme kick off with a horse agility training and competition day at New House Farm, Blakedown. Although two agility days were held last year, this event is extremely popular and the first one of 2014 proved to be no exception.
To the uninitiated, horse agility is carried out on foot with the horse or pony in hand, rather than the participant being mounted. It is aimed at creating a bond and build up of trust between horse and handler and it is suitable for horses and ponies of all ages and sizes and handlers of all ages and abilities.
Horse Agility consists of negotiating a course through a series of different obstacles and encompasses such things as a “corridor” of flags, streamers and windmills, which move in the wind, walking through a dangling curtain of ribbons, and weaving through a “maze” of poles on the ground.
In addition there is also a “pool” of plastic bottles and milk cartons to walk through and over, umbrellas to be opened and shut, flags to be waved, cycle tyres to be walked over, a podium to stand on, as well as small pole jump and some large sack type “saddlebags” to be carried.
Two new obstacles have also been introduced this year. The first is a large oval or ring of large diameter plastic piping which you have to walk through with your horse and the second is a garden “gazebo” which you have to walk underneath.
As per our previous events, the day was run by Sheila Reid, who is an accredited Horse Agility trainer. During the course of the morning Sheila put the ten participants through their paces, advising and coaching as to the best way to negotiate the obstacles and also how to reassure their horses and ponies, thereby building up the level of trust between them.
Everyone showed tremendous enthusiasm and for the spectators it was quite noticeable that the confidence and trust between horses and handlers continued to increase as the morning training session went on.
Following a short break for lunch, the afternoon session was a competition between participants, where they were marked on their ability and effectiveness to negotiate a course of obstacles nominated by Sheila.
At the end of the day the scores were extremely close, only a couple of points separating the first four contestants. That said, everyone who took part was a winner, all having built up that crucial bond and trust with their horses and ponies, which was the object of the exercise.
Places for this event were extremely sought after, which resulted in a “waiting list” being created, in case there were any cancellations. In addition, throughout the day quite a number of enquiries were made as to if the event was going to be repeated in the coming months.
As a result, the Worcestershire committee are going to try and run another session at the same location, again with Sheila as the instructor, during August. Once organised, it will be advertised on the Worcestershire events section of the BHS website and also on the Worcestershire BHS Facebook page.
If you are interested in having a go, the cost is £35 per person for the day. As bookings are on a “first come, first served” basis, keep your eyes open for the adverts as places are limited and will go very quickly.