British equine forum set for early March

NEF President Princess Anne, the Princess Royal.
NEF President Princess Anne, the Princess Royal.

Britain’s 21st National Equine Forum will be held on March 5.

Senior politicians and international experts have been lined up to speak at the forum, including Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, who is an experienced horseman.

Experts in various fields from the United States and Ireland will also speak.

Following the success of last year’s new venue, the forum will again be held in the amphitheatre-style lecture room at Institution of Mechanical Engineers, just off Parliament Square in London.

The forum is a non-partisan event and the only one of its kind to be held in Britain.

Each year it brings together all sectors of Britain’s equestrian industry to listen to and debate the latest equestrian news, views and research, and then mingle and network with the movers and shakers of the industry.

Ed Bracher, chief executive of Riding for the Disabled, will open the proceedings with a look at the benefits, as well as the trials and tribulations involved with encouraging volunteers.

In the morning’s two veterinary sessions, Malcolm Morley will discuss what recent pre-purchase examination changes mean for the horse owner. Mark Hillyer, of the Newmarket Equine Hospital, will then share his knowledge on current colic treatments and success rates.

Three presentations on riding as a form of therapy will start with international guest speaker Dr Patricia Pendry, professor of human development at the Washington State University in the US, examining the scientific evidence underpinning the therapeutic advantages of riding.

Jennifer Dixon-Clegg, director of the Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy, will explore riding therapy in practice. Sarah Rainford, the British Horse Society-sponsored Eqvalan thesis winner, will close the session with a comprehensive talk about the effects of hippotherapy on disabled children’s joints.

Paterson will then speak. He is one of few horsemen who, with his wife, completed the gruelling Mongol Derby horse race.

He will provide his agency’s current view of the equestrian industry.

Following this, Thoroughbred Breeders Association chairman Richard Lancaster and Dr Richard Newton, who is head of epidemiology and disease surveillance at the Animal Health Trust, will talk about the industry and government working together on the control of equine infectious diseases.

The after-lunch programme will turn to the Olympics and Paralympics. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson will give a general overview of London 2012. This will be followed by an Olympic horse breeder/owner and a competitor talking about the thrills of the showjumping competition and an Olympic and a Paralympic dressage competitor discussing their outstanding experiences at the games.

In the closing sessions, Professor Pat Harris, who heads the Waltham Equine Studies group, will look at “Grass – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, and Hugh Thomas, director of the Badminton Horse Trials, will discuss the implications of cancelling a major event.

In the final presentation of the day, Pieter Brama, professor of veterinary surgery at the University College Dublin, will discuss whether horses are ready to race as two-year-olds.

The forum is organised by a committee of individuals reflecting various sectors of the equestrian industry.


The forum is sponsored by the Association of British Riding Schools, Bedmax, BEVA Trust, The Blue Cross, British Equestrian Federation, British Equestrian Trade Association, British Horse Society, British Horseracing Authority, Bulley Davey, Darbys Solicitors, Dodson and Horrell, Donkey Sanctuary, Equine Products UK, Horse Trust, Jeffress Scholarship Trust, NFU Mutual Insurance, South Essex Insurance Brokers, Weatherbys Group and World Horse Welfare.
Tickets are available to equestrian trade delegates and equestrian professionals at a cost of £100 per person, which includes lunch and refreshments throughout the day. To apply please contact the Hon Secretary, Mrs Tracy Allen, at Warwickshire College, Moreton Morrell, Warwick, CV35 9BL email For further information on the NEF visit


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