BHS Scotland could not have chosen a wetter weekend for our Blackford Ride and it was with complete disgust at the weather that we abandoned the second day. But sixty members enjoyed the good going on the Saturday in this beautiful part of Scotland in the foothills of the Ochills enjoying privileged access to the drove roads and farm tracks of the Highland Spring catchment. Such history and good going on old grass; you could literally canter the first five miles. We were so indebted to the Blackford Farms and we still managed to raise £500 for Ride Out UK our access fund. And even though it was wall to wall sunshine the following weekend we could not have gone ahead then either because the five health board stand stills makes it obvious to us that going to a BHS ride from one of the restricted places (where all our entries from Edinburgh and Glasgow were from) is not essential travel.

Such is life in 2020 - but at least we got to hold an event and had a nice (almost normal) but very wet day of seeing our members socially distanced and we are grateful for that.

Parking has been exercising our minds recently as many riders have been been struggling to extend and preserve horse box parking at beaches and popular access beauty spots and forests this summer. Parking has certainly been a ‘hot Potato’ – BHS Scotland recommends that riders pay attention to the suggestions in our recent ‘leave no trace leave space’ infographic. Plan ahead, act with courtesy and think green by riding locally when they can. Most important of all is to share fairly and with courtesy, treating others the way you expect to be treated. Parking isn’t an access issue, but we all know it can be a barrier to going riding exactly where you want – a sensitive issue.

There have been some wonderful examples of parking case studies where land managers have opened fields to cater for the overflow and our BHS access reps in Caithness had an even more tricky job where as a result of their actions local horse riders have welcomed changes to a parking sign recently put up at the main beach car park at Dunnet Head which excluded trailers. Concern had been expressed when the signs first went up across Caithness stating that trailers were among a list of restricted vehicles in many public car parks. Fortunately, Caithness councillor Nicola Sinclair, once alerted to the problem, was quick to the get the notice amended and the trailer restriction was lifted. Special thanks go to Donna Mather and Jean Gunn from Highland South.

BHS Scotland is urging all Scottish horse and pony owners to join the hundreds that already have and apply for their ScotEquine card and in doing so bring benefits not only to themselves but to the entire equine industry in Scotland.

Convenience is a bonus of having a ScotEquine card meaning owners have the option to leave their equine’s passport in a safe place for much of the time, and just carry their ScotEquine card instead. The cards are much more portable and robust than the full paper horse passport. With the option to upload vaccination records to the equine’s ScotEquine page, it is envisaged that shows and competitions will eventually benefit by ensuring that entrants are complying with event entry requirements and biosecurity measures.

However, the card itself is a minor aspect of the ScotEquine project. The detailed census on which ScotEquine has embarked on will improve security and health for all of Scotland's equines. A major goal will be the ability to provide accurate information to help vets contain any disease outbreak. In this regard, it is equally beneficial to stay-at-home horses, ponies and donkeys. So sign up, its still free!