Amidst the promising news that the first dose of the long-awaited Covid-19 vaccine is being administered and our farmers closely following the last-minute discussions of Brexit talk, I find myself look back at a strange year, trying to find words of comfort and cheer, appropriate for a December column.

There is no doubt that this year has cost us all and that it will take time step out of the shadows of a global pandemic. There is also no doubt that our patience is wearing thin and our need to be close to the ones we love gets more urgent as the months pass by.

But as always there is plenty of light to be found in darkness and we would do well to follow our four-legged companions’ lead in taking each day as it comes and rejoicing in the small things.

Looking at a puppy experiencing its first flurry of snow, or seeing the feral pony tucking into a fresh load of hay warms the heart and offers us moments of peace and comfort.

At BHS Scotland we have kept ourselves plenty busy with online training (who would have thought at the beginning of the year that we would be able to support our coaches in remote regions better than ever).

In late November and December, we enjoyed four fascinating webinars on the inter-connected biomechanics of the rider and the horse with Dr Russell MacKechnie-Guire.

Our longstanding and experienced countryside consultant, Vyv Wood-Gee, started us on a new six-session programme designed to increase understanding of the legislation and produce enthusiastic and effective access reps who are supported and enjoy improving equestrian access in their area.

These six sessions, with supporting documentation are: Equestrian access in Scotland roles and responsibilities; equestrian access groups; legal framework; access in Scotland, dealing with problems; maintaining and supporting equestrian access; and mapping and promoting equestrian access.

This training is free and open to all who would like to understand the intricacies of Scottish access better. This renewed focus on access and training for all comes after a summer that has seen an increased use of our beautiful Scottish countryside, offering plenty social distancing and the opportunity for outdoor exercise.

With that comes the danger that people are not familiar with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and at BHS Scotland we take our commitment to responsible access serious and subscribe to the belief that prevention is the best cure. These access training courses will continue to run through the early part of next year and we will repeat sessions if necessary.

A possible relaxation of the travel restrictions in the New Year, will bring an increase of traffic on the road and so we are also invite all horse owners, riders and other road users to join us for a virtual session on road safety by the experts, Lawyer Catherine MacDonald, from Anderson Strathern; BHS safety specialist, Alan Hiscox; Lisa Dunlop, from Police Scotland, on the law when riding on the road; and myself from BHS Scotland.

So we keep busy. We learn. We wait for brighter days. We look after our animals and as this challenging year draws to a close, we thank our four legged friends who, in 2020 have brought us more comfort than ever.

Therefore, from BHS Scotland to you, this winter enjoy a peaceful and safe festive season with your equine companion, and we look forward to making life even better for you and your horse next year.