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HAPPA Equine Welfare Conference 2018


July 18, 2018



“Having Fun with Horses”
HAPPA held its third Equine Welfare Conference on Wed 4th July 2018 at Shores Hey Farm. The theme was aimed at ‘Having Fun with Horses’ and speakers demonstrated with passion how this can be achieved with empathy for the horse being the main focus.
Delegates were enthralled as the action packed schedule, filled with participation and fun provided a full day’s equine entertainment, and also included a fabulous buffet lunch served from the mouth-watering Scullery Café.
The day kicked off to a flying start with Kate Grimwood BSc (Hons) Nutrition Advisor for Baileys Horse Feeds who gave an excellent talk around feeding for fun. Her expert advice included how to feed a ‘fizzy’ horse, and how to feed a lazy horse, along with sound advice in general to achieve gold standards of horse care through feeding. She touched on feeding electrolytes and how to coax your horse into drinking to ensure hydration in extreme weather. Baileys Feeds also provided a fantastic feed voucher and tubs of their famous treat, for extra prizes in a fabulous raffle, drawn on the day.
Our second speaker Neville Davies, a long term HAPPA supporter and Borrower, took us on an enchanting journey down memory lane. Neville gave a lifetime’s account of keeping horses and donkeys throughout the decades. We learned how he was recruited to transport a VIP and ride over The Thelwall Viaduct, before its opening in 1963, only not in a traditional motorcar. The maiden voyage, driven by horse power, with Neville behind the reins, was authorised by special request.  At the end of the ride Neville was most disappointed when he was not required to attend a rather swish breakfast reception at one of Cheshire’s finest hotels. He had worked out where to ‘park’ his horse and everything but sadly returned to the stables with his horse in tow. Neville ended his talk with some rather amusing tales of HAPPA Pilgrim an extremely naughty donkey in his long term care.
Next up was Vicky Smart, Consultant Co-ordinator for RoR (Retraining of Racehorses) who gave a fascinating talk on the Racing Industry and how it supports horses coming out of racing. Her knowledge and expertise is incredible, married to racehorse trainer Bryan Smart, Vicky is actively involved in RoR and believes that breeders, owners, and trainers all have a responsibility to ensure the safe and secure future of every horse that has been raised and trained to be a racehorse.  Horses are sometimes forced to retire from racing at an early age, so still have a full life ahead of them and many of them go on to be very successful athletes in another discipline. Some retire through injury and others are simply ready to slow down from the demands of training, but still have many years of life ahead of them as a riding horse or companion.
Our next speaker Jake Patterson, Equine Dentist BSc (Hons) in Equine Dental Science, provided an educational talk on the importance of routine dental checks. He evidenced his theory with lots of photographic material which showed what can happen in a horse’s mouth, if an owner fails to ensure regular attention. As prey animals horses are naturally designed not to evidence pain and can suffer in silence as a result. If left unattended, sharp teeth can do all kinds of damage to the soft tissues in the mouth. Jake’s enthusiasm shone throughout his presentation and he introduced us to Harry the horse an ex hunter, who had an exemplary set of teeth. Harry the horse, a horse skull specimen, was donated to Jake for educational purposes, Jake was so impressed by the state of his well-cared for set of pearly whites, he made enquiries about the horse, when it was alive. Turns out that Harry was an ex-client of Jakes and he had served as Harry’s equine dentition in his former life!
Jo Paul, a founder member of Equibuddy, gave us an introduction to Equibuddy’s brand new app, which offers horse owners a mobile app to create a unique identity for their horse. The app was developed with the aim of building a global digital horse community; its creators are professionals in the field. Jo is a Chartered Physiotherapist, specialising in the treatment of horses and riders. Throughout her work with owners and other specialists, Jo and her business partner Jenny Leggate, recognised there was a need for better documentation and communication, to facilitate the best practice for all equines. Six years later Equibuddy was launched, the brainchild provides a platform to create bespoke profiles linked to individual horses. You can easily store electronic documents and upload copies of your horse’s passport, life height certificate, competition results, vaccinations and many others at your fingertips. Equibuddy enables you to choose and build your own community adding Vets, Farriers, Trainers and social buddies. Options are endless and the choice is yours to control. For more information please visit
The next session was one of partaking and Joanne Andrews, a member of The Association if Chartered Physiotherapists in Animal Therapy (ACPAT) and HAPPA’s resident physio, had everyone literally up out of their seats. The value of good posture has so many benefits not only for your own long term health but for riders it’s invaluable to your horse. So many problems are caused by an unbalanced rider, correct the rider’s bad posture and you will have a happy horse to have fun with.  To put it into perspective Joanne read out a meaningful poem written by Diane Cloyd, which brought a tear to the eye. The poem was so apt, we have chosen to share it with you.
The Warmth of a Horse
When your day seems out of balance
And so many things go wrong
When people fight around you
And the clock drags on so long
When some folks act like children
And fill you with remorse
Go out into your pasture and wrap
Your arms around your horse
His gentle breath enfolds you
As he watches with those eyes
He may not have a PhD
But he is, oh so wise!
His head rests on your shoulder
You hug him good and tight
He puts your world in balance
And makes it seem all right
Your tears will soon stop flowing
The tension will be eased
The nonsense has been lifted
You are quiet and at peace
So when you need some balance
From stresses in your day
The therapy you really need
Is out there eating hay!
By Diane Cloyd
Our final speaker representing the British Horse Society was Welfare Operations Manager, Sophie Cookson, BSc (Hons) Equine Studies, MSc Equine Behaviour, presenting ‘Friends at The End’. Sophie is passionate about equine health, welfare and behaviour. She is an inspirational speaker and delivered a powerful emotional, empathetic presentation, offering support and counselling to bereft owners. Holding a hand in a time of emotional turmoil can be a lifeline to some owners. Having someone to share your grief and fully understand with patience, virtue and integrity, can help owners to come to terms with their loss, knowing you are not alone can be very comforting. Putting a horse to sleep is something that many horse owners have to face sooner or later. There are many reasons why a horse may have to be euthanised, including illness, an accident or because old age has led to their quality of life deteriorating. The BHS provide a valuable service which can help owners be prepared and assist with the tough decision making during an extremely upsetting time. Again not a dry eye in the house. Thank you Sophie.
The final treat of the day was delivered as a practical demonstration from, Matt Owen, owner of Horse Help UK. Matt is an experienced equine behaviour specialist, dealing with young horses and horses with extreme phobias, such as loading issues, clipper phobias and problems under saddle and general handling. Matt has trained with a variety of trainers, taking small pieces from each one, to provide the safest and most ethical solutions for all aspects of equine behaviour. Matt’s motto is a quote from an unknown author ‘trust takes years to build, only seconds to break and forever to repair’.  Matt worked his magic on HAPPA Frosty a seven year old 12.2hh grey Dartmoor gelding, who was recently backed and broken to ride. Frosty was initially a nervous pony and took a lot of desensitising to accept tack and a rider. His trusts has been built slowly and he is now at the stage where he is ready to be re-homed.  However Frosty had developed a reluctance to load in the trailer. Matt had never met Frosty before the demonstration and demonstrated his techniques in front of a live audience. With patience and perseverance, Matt soon had Frosty, loading in and out of the trailer without any stress whatsoever. There was a point where the audience thought this isn’t going to work. But hey-ho Matt’s moto works every time!

The day was very well supported and the feedback given was excellent. A massive thank you to all our sponsors who gave very generously towards the event. Another massive thank you to our speakers who were totally amazing and made the day very interesting and informative. Last but not least a very well done to the lead organiser of the event this year; HAPPA’s Equine Inspector Tracy Capper is not only great at enforcing equine legislation, but can turn her hand to event organisation too! Many thanks to all staff involved on ensuring the day ran successfully. Plans are already underway for next year and we are on the lookout for inspirational speakers in the field of equine welfare to come forward and secure a top spot.
If you are also interested in sponsoring next year’s event, or being a guest speaker ‘Save the Date’- Wed 3rd July 2019.  Please contact our HQ and pledge your support on 01282 455992, see you next year!