27th August 2020 - Page 62



62
HORSEWEEK
FARMWEEK
JUNE 04 2020
RDA does make a
difference
M
ANY readers will have seen over the last few
months the Brendan Rodgers introduced funding
appeal for the NI Hospice. In it, he invited viewers
to listen to “June’s story”. If anyone was ever in
doubt about the benets of the work that RDA
engages in, then listening to June would surely assuage
them. Her words were inspiring and a motivational tonic
for all RDA volunteers, riders and riders’ families.
June had been given 48 hours to live, 15 years ago, after
a series of strokes. As part of her recovery process, she
took up horse riding as part of a programme organised
by the NI Chest Heart and Stroke (NICHS) and RDA. She
soon discovered that, despite her legacy of problems
from her stokes, she had a talent for riding. She went on to
undertake Endurance Riding at Downpatrick Racecourse
and at Gosford; she competed (and won) in the regional
dressage championships and gained qualication to the
National Championships at Hartpury in Gloucester. She
also successfully completed riding prociency and show
jumping levels. In the hospice video, she said: “seeing the
horses took me to another place, where I wasn’t thinking of
my strokes any more... it brought me back from the brink”.
Viewing the video, I realised that RDA endeavours with
riders like June are perhaps not a well known aspect of our
activities. June attended Minnowburn RDA. We are located
towards the rear of Knockbracken Health Care Park on
the Sainteld Road in Belfast. One of our weekly sessions
facilitates adults that have been recommended to us by
NICHS. The session also includes adults with other issues,
such as Spina Bida and Multiple Sclerosis. They all gain
great benet from their riding activities – why?
Riding is widely accepted as being of great therapeutic
value, encouraging physical exibility and the use of
muscles not normally used in a life, which may now
have some restrictions in movement. I know it’s not very
scientic, but I note how over time riders improve in their
ability to mount the horses. However, there is much more
than the challenge of learning a new and unique physical
skill involved. There can be esteem issues involved as
well. Whereas their illness may have curtailed some
BY JACQUI PORTER
ENDURANCE: The late June Close riding ‘Arnie’ at
Downpatrick Racecourse during the RDA endurance day.
(FW23-502NN)
aspects to life, a whole new world opens up, new skills,
new friends and the development of an appreciation for
the wonderful animals that horses are. Most of our riders
are undertaking an activity they never dreamed of before
their illness - they acquire skills their friends and family
probably don’t have. Riders’ benchmarks for success are
simply themselves - no two riders have the same level of
physical mobility and so no comparisons can be made.
Progress is entirely individual and individually driven - but
the satisfaction levels are obvious and, in some cases, even
issues like depression tend to diminish or disappear. All of
this is set in a strong social community, friendships are
formed, tea shared and an enjoyable morning are integral
aspects of the RDA ethos at Minnowburn; all supported
by an enthusiastic, encouraging, knowledgeable and good
humoured group of volunteers. RDA activities have the
capacity to improve the quality of life of so many, June
being a great example.
Unfortunately, June passed away in the NI Hospice at the
end of March. Earlier, I mentioned June’s legacy problems
resulting from her strokes - she may have been left with a
legacy from her strokes, but the legacy she has left us is
far from negative. An unforgettable, determined, focused
and inspirational lady, she became a role model for those
who may have a difculty in coming to terms with their
new ‘norm’ after a life changing illness. She was proud to
represent Minnowburn RDA and we were honoured to be
represented by her. She was the epitome of our RDA motto
“It’s what you can do that counts”.
May she rest in peace.
Hugh McCann, RDA Coach at Minnowburn
ABOUT RDA IN NORTHERN IRELAND
CHALLENGE: The late June Close riding ‘Doro’ at
Danescroft, competing in the Countryside Challenge class
at the RDA regional qualifier competition. (FW23-501NN)
RDA NI is a federation of 30 registered charities
who provide riding, carriage driving and vaulting
opportunities to people of all ages with physical
disabilities and/or learning difculties across
Northern Ireland. This is only possible because of our
band of about 700 volunteers, who provide services to
about 1,000 participants each year. More volunteers
from the age of 12 upwards are always welcome,
please see the website for contact details: https://
ridingforthedisabledni.org/ or phone the Regional
Chairman Julie Frazer on 028 2588 0584 for more
information.
Pathway for the resumption of AIRC activities announced
T
HE Association of Irish Riding
Clubs’ (AIRC) ‘Pathway for the
Resumption of AIRC Activities’
is now available to download from the
AIRC website: www.airc.ie
This
document
provides
a
framework in which members must
operate in order to comply with
the new measures that must be
introduced for the safe return of
equestrian sport.
The return of AIRC activities will
take place over a phased basis
involving four steps, which are due
to begin on June 8, in line with the
Irish Government’s Roadmap for
Reopening Society and Business. This
approach will allow everyone time
to assess how the AIRC can operate
under these new protocols to ensure
they create a safe environment for
members, volunteers and ofcials.
Activities, however, will resume
sooner if the Irish Government lifts
From the
horse’s
mouth
lifting of restrictions.
The AIRC has created an information
hub on their website too, where all the
latest information, important links
and resources regarding Covid-19
may be found, to keep you up to date.
FRAMEWORK: The AIRC document
provides a framework in which
members must operate in order to
comply with the new measures that
must be introduced for the safe return
of equestrian sport. (FW23-503NN)
the travel restrictions ahead of its
published plan.
These measures and protocols are
under constant review and updated
as advice from the government,
health authorities and governing
bodies evolve in line with the gradual
PLAN: The AIRC has announced a
phased plan for the resumption of
their activities. (FW23-504NN)
How bridles can affect
your horse’s behaviour
WHEN
selecting
the
appropriate tack for a horse,
many overlook the bridle as
an important factor in how a
horse’s behaviour and way
of going may be impacted.
Nowadays, we spend time and
money on a well tted saddle to
help us achieve natural freedom
of movement, whilst helping the
rider’s position - gone are the
days where “one saddle ts all”.
So what about the bridle? How
many of us have a bridle tted
correctly or even consider why
we are using the bridle we have
selected? An incorrectly tted
bridle can impact a horse’s way
of going and ability to ride on
the contact nearly as much as
an incorrectly tted bit can.
Here are some things to
consider when selecting a
bridle:
Nosebands are a huge subject,
a quick internet search can show
endless articles and research
on “how tight is too tight?”. A
noseband should never be used
to close a horse’s mouth, and
denitely not tight, whatever the
noseband, including a Cavesson.
A horse must be able to relax its
jaw and tongue, and the jaw to
fully move. The job of the jaw is
to act like a pendulum to give the
horse correct balance and allows
the horse to have awareness of
limb placement. This relies on
the TMJ (temporomandibular
joint) of the jaw to be pain and
pressure free. Closing the mouth
when riding can cause restricted
movement of the tongue,
which is directly connected
to tightening of the muscles at
the base of the neck through
to the chest. This also makes it
hard for the horse to swallow causing excessive saliva/ foam
to pour from the horse’s mouth.
When the horse’s lower
jaw cannot move, it cannot,
therefore, ‘transmit’ accurate
positioning data to the horse’s
body, which can result in poor
movement and performance.
TMJ dysfunction reaction in
horses can lead to balance
being impaired, lack of ability
to perform lateral movements,
range of motion of the cervical
vertebrae can be impacted, it
can encourage a hollow back or
even shorten the horse’s stride.
The two-nger rule is often not
enough when tting a noseband,
as every horse has a different
range of movement through
its jaw. With several different
types of bridles available, its
important to stop and consider
why you have selected that type.
Crank Cavessons are popular
THE BRIDLE EFFECT: An
incorrectly fitted bridle can
impact a horse’s way of going
and ability to ride on the
contact. (FW23-500NN)
with dressage riders. These
types
of
nosebands
are
generally padded, but can
be
overtightened
without
realising. Drop nosebands are
often used to “support the bit”,
which shouldn’t be necessary.
These types are often tted
too low. Flash nosebands are
used extensively, with studies
showing how much damage
they can cause to the horse’s
muzzle and nasal bones as they
are predominantly used to keep
a horse’s mouth closed.
Grackles are now Dressage
Legal, and many think the best
choice of noseband to avoid the
nerves on a horse’s head, but
again, only if loose, so those
who use it to stop a horse from
crossing its jaw can make the
situation worse by tightening
them. Once you close a horse’s
mouth and stop the jaw working
as it should, the horse is closed
down from the poll backwards,
closing the shoulders, hollowing
the back, making it impossible
for horse to engage it’s
hindquarters and takes away
the natural brakes, so actually
does the exact opposite to
why people often want to use a
noseband.
So, to correct a horse’s mouth,
you shouldn’t try to stop an
undesirable trait with restriction
(i.e. tighten the noseband), this
would cause further discomfort
and resistance for something
the horse is already expressing
is not comfortable. A quiet
mouth is NOT a ‘shut mouth’.
No living mammal on earth
goes around with it’s jaw closed
and teeth together. A calm yet
mobile mouth means they are
light on the reins and relaxed
through the neck, so they can
easily swallow.
Optimum performance cannot
happen any other way.
Jacqui Porter BSc (Hons) BAEDT
EQUINE DENTAL SERVICES
Tel: 07395 830535
Email: jpdentistry@icloud.com

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