Watching the Olympic equestrian events, one could not help but be inspired by the amazing achievements of Team GB on home turf in Greenwich Park.
Whether you are a regular rider and dressage aficionado or someone new to watching the sport that TV and radio presenters quickly nicknamed ‘horse dancing’, it was clear that the British dressage team were in a class of their own when taking the first team gold medal Britain has ever won in the sport.
The showjumpers were immense in winning their first team gold for 60 years, and the eventers were gallant in a narrow defeat to secure the team silver. And the Para Dressage team continued the medal haul with some excellent performances.
So were you inspired by the huge success of Equestrian Team GB? Perhaps you ride regularly; maybe you are a horse owner, and you have been inspired to take some more lessons, train harder, and start competing at a higher level. Or perhaps you are reading this as someone who has never ridden at all but would like to give it a go.
In any case, the British Horse Society is the first port of call for information and support. For horse owners and those who ride already, there is a wealth of information available on welfare, safety and access. There are leaflets available on all manner of equine subjects, many of them downloadable from the website, and the BHS staff is able to help with enquiries. British Riding Clubs offer great opportunities to compete, and the Isle of Wight Riding Club is a very active club.
Have you thought about taking a Horse Owner’s Certificate? There are four levels, allowing progression as your horse care and management knowledge and skills develop. These certificates are ideal not only for first time horse owners, but also for parents of horse owners and for those considering buying a horse. They are a great way of checking your knowledge before taking the plunge of ownership!
Back to those considering taking up the reins for the first time – what can the BHS do for you? Well the BHS can help you find somewhere to learn safely and effectively, through its Approved Establishments list. Each of the establishments on the list has been inspected by a highly experienced representative of the BHS, who will have looked carefully at the level of instruction available, the facilities and equipment, and the standards of safety, horse care and management. By choosing a BHS approved centre, you know you are choosing somewhere that has been thoroughly scrutinised and has met the required standards.
Did you know that horse riding, as well as being fun, is also great exercise? The BHS recently commissioned the University of Brighton, in partnership with Plumpton College, to research the physical health, psychological and well-being benefits of recreational horse riding in the UK, and the results were very positive in showing horse riding as a moderate intensity exercise with positive psychological benefits. The full report can be read on the BHS website.
There are plenty of places to ride on the Isle of Wight, including two BHS approved riding schools, so what are you waiting for? If you, or your children, dream of being the next generation of Olympic athletes, then visit www.bhs.org.uk to find out more about how to get involved in this wonderfully rewarding sport.