Thursday, 24 November 2016

Bad losers

Bad losers - we've all seen them and it seems even the Olympics isn't immune to the 'spoilt child' mentality that stamps its foot and goes home in a huff because there isn't a winner's rosette in the horsebox.
These people blame one or more of - the horse, pony, the course, the ground conditions - anything but themselves - yet the truth is often simply that they haven't prepared properly for the challenge of the competition entered.
Perhaps the horse or pony isn't fit enough, hasn't been taught to confidently carry out what's expected - and remember that if the pupil hasn't learned, then the teacher hasn't taught - or perhaps the rider doesn't have the skill to ride the horse in that type or level of competition.


Quote of the season from an official at an affiliated one day event ... "If you organise a swimming competition, it is reasonable to assume that all the entrants can swim..." 

The inference is clearly that not everyone who enters a competition can ride well enough and if you spend time watching at any competition, it's not long before it's obvious that there's quite a bit of truth in the observation!
Goodness knows what these riders do at home, but it's good to increasingly hear that 'bad losers' may just find their entries aren't accepted next time, so at least they can't spoil the day for other riders, their families and friends.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Talking Tactics - when things don't go to plan

As with all horsey things we set our goals in concrete, but make our plans in the sand as ‘you never know with horses’ and things can change from one day to the next. Deep down we hope that our plans work out, but what happens when they don’t? Successful amateur event rider Caroline Mosley, who writes the regular 'Talking Tactics' feature in Equine magazine, shares her personal experiences of ‘getting back on track’.
There are so many reasons why our plans have to change, but what if that change is because of a confidence knock due to having a fall?
We all hate to fall off and whilst sometimes its pretty easy to get up, dust yourself off and get back on board without any problems, sometimes it can really set us back and make us feel like all that hard work is lost. If you have a prolonged period out of the saddle it can be unhealthy to spend all the time focusing on what went wrong. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to analyse it and work out if there was something that could have prevented it, but dwelling on the past is never going to help you move forwards.
A confidence knock can seriously affect our riding. I was advised (and it was good advice I am now passing on!) is to take a look back to a week/month/year ago and see how far you have progressed. It might only be a small thing such as the horse standing beside the mounting block after years of dancing around, to climbing up the levels in an incredibly quick progression. No positive step is too small – they all help to start to remove the negatives.
My next step is to go back to my comfort zone. Whether you are taking a step back to help you or your horse it’s never a bad thing. I think it is always better to come home wishing you had done the bigger class than the other way around, as each successful outing will help to make the step back up easier. Confidence is like porcelain; if broken you have to glue it back together but you need to give the glue time to take hold. If you rush it, you make break it again, and perhaps make a bigger ‘dent’ in it the next time.
If my worry is getting back on the horse in the first place, there is no shame in getting someone else to have a sit on, or asking for help. You have your horse for your own enjoyment andif that means you need someone to have a quick sit on to regain the horse’s confidence then that is a good recovery plan. I actually like seeing someone else sitting on my horses, as its quite nice to be an owner for a change although I am usually itching to get back on by the time they finish!!
There are lots of things you can plan to do and planning is very important. Make some short-term goals that you know you can hit and then build on them after you have achieved them.
Recently I had a fall on the Cross Country and broke my collarbone. I have no idea why it happened but it was important for me to make a plan to get going again. I had to have two weeks off to recover enough so that riding wasn’t sore, and my first ride was to go for a simple hack up the road. I could assess if I was able to use my arm properly and had a friend with me in case there were any problems (plus I needed her help to put my saddle on!). Following on I had a play in the arena doing some flatwork, and then when ready I had a pop over a tiny cross pole (it was tiny!) from trot to see how I felt in the air over the fence. Thankfully no pain so I was then able to build on my small steps to prepare me for my next event – which was at a lower, so easier level. I can’t say I wasn’t nervous before we started our next cross country, but I could reflect back on what we had done over the last two weeks to prove to myself that the fall hopefully wasn’t going to happen again. I’m pleased to report that we flew round the cross country that day and notched up another confidence step on the road to Mind Recovery! On reflection we could have probably managed the higher level, however I think my nerves would have been worse, so I am glad I came home having achieved an easy run in the lower class.
If you find that despite taking a step back doesn’t help, you may want to try other things such as Neuro Linguistic Programming, Sports Psychology or other methods such as Hypnotherapy. When I look at these techniques I do see a lot of what I already do in there – such as mental imagery, focusing on success and reinforcing self-belief, all of which are important to help you keep that fragile state of positive confidence in the right balance.
You could also try doing something completely outside of the box for you and your horse – perhaps something new such as Trec, Endurance, Tilting, or something else that you have always wanted to have a shot at. It doesn’t mean you are giving up, rather that you can use it to help refocus the mind and move onwards.
Find inspiration from elsewhere – watch the professionals at a competition or demonstration evening, book a lesson on a schooled horse or volunteer at a competition – its amazing how much you learn watching a variety of riders jump the same fence when jump judging, or writing for a dressage judge. I’m usually fired up to have a go when I get home from helping at events.
Don’t dwell on the negatives, look back on what you have achieved together, make a plan and remember you and your horse are awesome!!

Caroline Mosley is better known to fellow eventers in the north as 'Orange Fox Eventing - oh - and her favourite colour is organge! Find her on facebook as - you guessed -

This article first appeared in the September 2016 issue of Equine. If you would like to read more of these helpful and very practical 'Talking Tactics' articles in Equine magazine, back issues are available for secure online purchase from where you can also subscribe to Equine.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Livery yards and the law

If you keep your horse or pony on a livery yard, you should understand what to expect and who is responsible for what.
Claire Rawsthorn from Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors provides a legal viewpoint, one of a series running in Equine magazine.  This article first appeared in September 2016.

The function of a livery yard
At a basic level, livery yards operate by providing accommodation for horses in return for payment. 
There are different types of livery available, from ‘full’ livery, where the yard will attend to all needs of the horses in its care, including food and even exercise, to ‘DIY’ livery, where the owner retains responsibility for the horse’s welfare and provides feed and bedding, with the livery yard providing only shelter. There are varying degrees of livery in between.

Legal responsibilities of a livery yard owner
Whatever the level of livery, both yard and horse owners are strongly advised to enter into an agreement with each other before the horse arrives at the yard. This ensures that both parties are aware of their obligations. An agreement should deal with key issues such as fees, type of livery offered, insurance, welfare decisions and set out clearly the responsibilities and liabilities of each party.
However, in addition to any contractual obligations owed under a livery agreement, any individual with responsibility for a horse, whether on a permanent or temporary basis, is required, in accordance with The Animal Welfare Act 2006 (‘the AWA’), to ensure that the horse:
•    has a suitable environment to live in;
•    has a healthy diet;
•    is able to behave normally;
•    has appropriate company; and
•    is protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
DEFRA has produced a ‘Code of Practice for the Welfare of Horses, Ponies, Donkeys and their Hybrids’. This sets out the action required to ensure compliance with the provisions of the AWA.
If an owner leaves an animal in the care of another person, the Code makes it clear that it is the owner’s duty to ensure the keeper is competent and has the necessary authority to act in an emergency. An owner does not abdicate responsibility by leaving their horse in the care of a livery yard; the responsibility is ongoing.
By the same token, however, it is the duty of a livery yard owner to ensure the safety and security of its horses and those who use their yards, with serious legal implications for failing to do so.

The main pieces of legislation governing the operation of livery yards are as follows:-
The Animals Act 1971
A horse is classed as a ‘Non-Dangerous Species’ under the provisions of The Animals Act 1971. Section 2(2) of the Act provides that the keeper of a non-dangerous species may be strictly liable for damage caused by that species if:
•    the damage is of a kind, which the animal, unless restrained, was likely to cause or which, if caused by the animal, was likely to be severe;
•    the likelihood of the damage or of its being severe was due to the characteristics of the animal, which are not normally found in animals of the same species or are not normally so found except at particular times or in particular circumstances;
•    these characteristics were known to the keeper or were at any time known to a person, who, at that time, had charge of the animal as the keeper’s servant.
For the purposes of the Act, a keeper may be the owner of the animal or the person in possession of it. As a person in possession of a horse, a livery yard owner may therefore be strictly liable for damage caused by a horse under its charge, should the horse stray and cause injury to people or damage to property. Strict liability means that negligence on the part of the yard owner does not need to be proved; that the horse had escaped and caused damage is usually enough for the yard owner to be liable.
In the leading case of Mirvahedy v Henley [2003] UKHL 16, the claimant’s car collided with the defendant’s horse which had escaped from a field and run across a busy road, after being startled by a sudden noise. The claimant, Mr Mirvahedy, suffered serious personal injury. The Henleys, as the owners of the horse and of the paddock where the horses were kept, were held strictly liable, as keepers of the horse, for the claimant’s injuries.

The Occupiers Liability Act 1957
A general duty of care is owed by owners of property to those who come onto their property. The duty owed to visitors is higher than that which is owed to trespassers. For this purpose, visitors are, for example, owners of horses on the yard, farmers, vets and other equine health professionals attending to horses on the yard, delivery personnel as well as grooms and other stable help.
The owner of a livery yards will owe a certain duty of care to lawful visitors to their premises under section 2(2) of The Occupiers Liability Act 1957, known as the ‘common duty of care’, which is :-
“ take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there.”
It may be possible for property to owners to discharge their duty of care by giving a warning of the potential danger; though only if, in all the circumstances, it was enough to enable the visitor to be reasonably safe (s2(4)(a) of the Act). It is also possible to exclude liability for damage to property, by way of a disclaimer. Note though, that an occupier can never exclude liability for personal injury or death.
It is therefore important for a livery yard owner to take reasonable steps to ensure that their property is free from hazards, for example by ensuring that the appropriate fire precautions are taken, that all buildings meet building regulations and are structurally safe; that hay feeds, tack and equipment are safely stored and that the design of floor surfaces and layout of buildings are free from hazard.

The legal defences available to livery yard owners are limited. It is therefore highly advisable to obtain some form of insurance cover.
Public liability insurance
An occupier of property that has regular visitors should purchase public liability insurance to guard against negligence claims by members of the public, and those who house their horses at the yard.
‘Care, custody and control’
Depending on the type of livery offered, careful consideration should be given to extending your insurance cover to provide protection for Care, Custody and Control, to insure against liability for loss or injury to the animals themselves.
Employers’ Liability insurance
Employers’ Liability Insurance is compulsory where you employ any individual as part of your business. This insurance must cover liability for injury or disease caused to employees arising out of their employment.
The owners of smaller, often family-run, livery yards should err on the side of caution, because whilst a yard worker might not employed on a formal basis, an owner may still be held to be an employer if a reasonable degree of control is exercised by the owner over their workers’ activities.
Employers and yard owners who engage workers on an informal basis should also be aware of the operation of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which places a duty on every employer “to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all of his employees”.

Take home message
In an age of litigation, operating a livery yard is a risky business. It is important to think practically and mitigate against as much of this risk as you can through comprehensive insurance cover. Livery Yard owners are also advised to put in place a comprehensive livery agreement to regulate the rights and responsibilities of both parties, and to leave as little room for dispute as possible.
To read about the property law considerations relating to the purchase of property for equine use, please refer to our ‘Property Focus’ article, published in July’s edition of Equine.

About Claire Rawsthorn
Claire grew up in Derbyshire, graduating with a degree in French and German from Sheffield University before taking her postgraduate law studies at Trent Polytechnic (now Nottingham Trent University). She joined Robinsons Solicitors, Derby as a trainee and stayed with them after qualifying, before moving to Cumbria in 1989.
In Cumbria, Claire has worked in the area of property law, specialising in agricultural property transactions and small estate development since 2002. She is a member of the Agricultural Law Association. She joined Cartmell Shepherd in January 2013 and amongst her portfolio of clients, she advises on the sale, purchase and lease of equestrian properties and grazing and livery agreements.
Contact Claire at Cartmell Shepherd's Victoria House office in Carlisle City Centre, Cumbria. Tel: 01228 516666.