I wrote my collection of Badminton blogs to share with horse lovers my welfare 'wins' at Badminton Horse Trials 2019. The competition is in its 70th year, and has evolved considerably for horses during this time. So I decided to see if I could celebrate with my 'welfare wins' throughout the competition. It is now over for another year.
Piggy French and Vanir Kamira
However, my collection of blogs was always for Welfare.
The winner of Welfare Badminton 2019 has to be...
All of them.
Those that finished.
Those that did't. (as yet I have not heard the full reports as to why...)
All are athletes balancing both physical and mental well-being to qualify and complete the most demanding 5* 3 Day Event in the world.
Without our gorgeous, always giving and forgiving horses, there is no Badminton for thousands to migrate and enjoy every year, not to mention the spike in revenue for hundred of businesses on-site and locally.
The cross country course placed the spotlight on rider relationships, challenging combinations and identifying those who have nurtured and grown in their horse-human relationships. Win.
But who were my welfare winners on the final day?
My awards go to...
Back to The Future award goes to the Trot Up. In more recent years, the trot up has mimicked the catwalk, instead of what it used to be -an assessment of physical and mental well-being. As each competitor presented for assessment it was easy to gauge sound, fit and ready to complete horses...by the length of the rein from the bit each rider placed their hand. It was like the longer the rein, the greater the well-being. The one horse asked to re-present, subsequently passed, got me thinking...now the catwalk era is past, maybe now we can thrust forwards with welfare? I predict in only a few short years the trot up will champion the application of the science of equine facial expressions as Dr Dyson is busy training and educating her veterinary colleagues in the assessment of pain in the face. Watch this space. Our future selves will look back to 2019 and remember the facial expression of the Italian horse as the catalyst for improving further horse welfare in the sport of eventing.
Best Trot Up award goes to Andrew Nicholson. Long rein. Calming stroke in the turn - a truly horse centred presentation for the jury to assess his horse's well-being. Thank you Andrew.
Win-Win-Win Award goes to: Welfare - Horses - Progress
I know those in the sport of eventing will be celebrating the success of a progressively improving welfare focussed Badminton with fizz. Then Im guessing, tomorrow will be all about review, reflection and reset for next years showcase. I cant wait to see how Eric builds on his success for our horses, or how the sport will progress from all its learnings throughout the competition. As I sign off from this blog collection, know I am smiling at the overarching theme of the competition...
Well done to all involved in progressing welfare forwards in Eventing. Let us all be the change our horses need and work towards a sport that is truly transparent, accountable, communicative and trusted by the public....
Progress Over Perfection.