Ragwort control in Scotland has fallen foul of Brexit!

It seems that no one has the human resources to enforce its control and no one knows who is responsible for the roads anymore – and anyway, we are not allowed to call for its eradication in the interests of ‘biodiversity’.

Scottish Government offices will only issue a letter if there is ‘evidence of an attempt at local resolution between neighbouring landowners’; but that’s not as bad as it sounds because all you need to do is ask your neighbour to control ragwort on their land and even if they ignore you – well at least you have tried.

Getting older and more frank can reap dividends for the equine industry. There is something refreshing and wholesome about losing your filter and simply saying: “Do you not think your horse would be happier if you lost a bit of weight?”; “do you not think it would be better for your horse if you managed him in a way that maintains a consistently healthy weight?” or “Apart from being plainly irresponsible, riding without a hat sets a very bad example for younger riders.”

OK, so the BHS in Scotland, is in danger of becoming curmudgeonly – but some things just press our hot button. Things like seeing riders on the road in the gloaming with no fluorescent reflective gear, or seeing deep hoof prints indicative of riding at speed on a well-used multi-use track, then coming across quite a lot of horse pooh in the tracks where infants’ buggies run.

But, let’s concentrate on the positive. BHS Scotland has several access to the countryside cases that worked like clockwork recently.

Here is one scenario. Rider has problem with new obstructions on their usual safe off road route, tries to ask landowners why and gets growled at. There has been no damage, responsible access rights still apply.

Rider contacts BHS to become sure of their ground and contact local access officer, who meets farmer – obstruction removed and another track cleared jointly by riders and landowner working together in a team spirited way. Yes!

This really happened in 2017 – and more than once. Sometimes when people realise what their responsibilities are, they take positive action.

Could it be true that we are seeing a cultural change in the Scottish countryside, with responsible access takers willing to contribute and landowners seeing the kudos in welcoming walkers, and riders?

Reasons to be cheerful also include a new Police Scotland Initiative ‘Lose the blinkers’ to be launched on the evening of Friday, October 27, at Morris Equestrian Centre, Kilmarnock, in response to nearly 150 equestrian incidents on Scotlands road in the last few years.

This will advise both horse riders and motorists to become more ‘road user friendly’ and mark the start of Police Scotland using resources to promote how to pass horses on the roads and even prosecute dangerous driving around horses.

The roads are for everyone – for vulnerable road users, as well as cars and we must all be considerate as well as responsible.

Horse riders should use the horse accidents pages of the BHS website to report all near misses as statistics have really helped in this instance to create a police initiative and one which the BHS and a multitude of other agencies are proud to be partners.

Constant rain this hasn’t made this an easy harvest for farmers and there is lots of straw to bale, so in age-old fashion we need to consider land management issues when we plan our riding too.

BHS Scotland held an innovative and technological evening with the Avansce Synchronicity rein gauge system that uses an app to measure the weight of the riders hands in the reins to just to emphasise how small things matter in equitation.

The horse remains the horse but new techniques and partners come along all the time to help us make horse riding even kinder and safer. More power to your rein hands!