Goodness me – BHS Scotland has just short of 7500 members and a very respectable membership rise of 7% in 2018 (the best in the society) all down to the activity of our highly motivated staff and volunteers.

So, as a membership organisation we are a force to be reckoned with in Scotland and we start 2019 at the Scottish Parliament for all the right reasons.

Organising a road safety briefing for March and meeting with the appropriate minister pushing forward the need for enforceable equine identification legislation, the licensing and registration of all equine establishments and the need for more farriery training opportunities in Scotland – along with fairer business rates for equine establishments – were our priorities to keep our sector thriving.

With the great power of being a bigger organisation, come greater responsibility to work in partnership, so in the first week of the year we were thrown in to this positive way of working in the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) as Police Scotland launch a five-month livestock worrying campaign which covers all animals.

Our stats from the BHS accident reporting website (where only the worst gets reported) makes sober reading. Since BHS's Horse Accidents website's launch in 2010, Scotland has recorded:

94 total dog attacks incidents reported

1 horse fatality

21 horses injured

1 human fatality (not rider)

25 riders injured

Annual breakdown:

2018 – 11 incidents

2017 – 9 incidents

2016 – 14 incidents

2015 – 17 incidents

2014 – 13 incidents

Bearing in mind that only a fraction of incidents get reported, hopefully as riders' knowledge of reporting such accidents grows, this will lead to more incidents being included. These are powerful statistics that the BHS is feeding into Emma Harper MSP's consultation on dog control that will be public shortly.

The reality is that horse riders come under attack by dog almost every day of the year and often it is trivial, but what starts as barking can quickly escalate into a dangerous situation. The BHS is grateful to publications like The Scottish Farmer, which are taking up the cudgels on this and supporting it.

Elsewhere in BHS, besides policy matters, it’s planning for the year that is occupying us – with our 15 regional committees all getting active – that can mean quite a few events to run.

Admin' around our competition series that culminate at Blair also forms a large part of our early year work and this time we welcome Botanica (who doesn’t love their products?) as a new sponsor with delightful new rosettes.

Although it is with a heavy heart that we wave goodbye to Eastern BHW where Magnus Wang and his team have supported BHS so generously for a couple of years. We also have our International convention to look forward to on April 7-9.

It’s also nearly time to enter the Royal Highland, Blair and Black Isle and any other shows that we want to have a stand at – for us this is a big debate and something we like to get right as we value the opportunity to serve tea and cakes to our members the length of Scotland, and secure them for a chat.

We have big debates about carpet colour on stands as the BHS can sometimes be 'too red' then it turns into a sort of anger management tent! We have enough problems keeping our over exuberant volunteers calm.

This unprecedented 'dry January' (as in weather) is perfect for riding and winter hacking can be the best, so horses should canter into 2019 fitter and leaner than usual – it’s the riders who need to keep up!