Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Driving the Bannedwaggon round West Town Farm

Here are Obama and I having fun.


and here is where I am doing most of my writing at present http://thinkingoutsidethehorsebox.wordpress.com/

To see some of my marginally more organised rants, try these links. If all else fails, try hitting them with whips. It works with horses, doesn't it? http://sites.google.com/site/wehithorsesdontwe/ http://saddlechariot.comlu.com/index.php

Monday, 18 October 2010

New site, Thinking Outside the Horsebox

Hi there, a new site as I try to rearrange my confused thoughts about the new vehicle, the Bannedwaggon.
Have a look and enjoy.


To see some of my marginally more organised rants, try these links. If all else fails, try hitting them with whips. It works with horses, doesn't it? http://sites.google.com/site/wehithorsesdontwe/ http://saddlechariot.comlu.com/index.php

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Safety shoes?

Please go to http://ponyaccess.com/ , my new website covering the saddlechariot/iBex and it's uses. This is where you will also find links to all my articles on training, safety, vehicle design and even the weird stuff on cooking and politics.
My new contact details are ponyaccess@gmail.com
and my phone number is +44 7510 736 518

Saddlechariots, Safety. The S words crop up throughout everything I have written in the ten years the Saddlechariot has existed. From day one I wanted a Safe, one man, pony drawn vehicle. Today, I want a safe one man pony or horse drawn vehicle, and it exists, the Mark10 Saddlechariot is about as good as you are going to get.

But almost from day one, I wanted to build a wheelchair friendly version. Safety was just as important for the disability market. It would be pointless to say it was more important, as I have always made it clear that safety was the number one priority on the Saddlechariot. If Safety is number one priority, you cannot make it more important.

The Bannedwaggon is the result of all those years of trying to provide Saddlechariot levels of safety to those with limited mobility. But the Bannedwaggon has a major problem with safety. The problem is the Equestrian Establishment whose attitude to safety is, to put it mildly, complex.

In essence, the Equestrian Establishment don't do safety. They hardly even pay it lip service, and consequently, equestrianism kills a lot of people. With this background, it is impossible to get any rational safety assessment of any product that might be used around ponies or horses. In ten years, nobody from the Equestrian Establishment has EVER been prepared to look at the safety features I have put in the Saddlechariot. The Equestrian Establishment deliberately ignore safety.

The Equestrian Establishment is obviously going to be haring off to their lawyers so I will produce my evidence. I have actually done a Health and Safety course, and wish I had done it years ago. I have been told about all the nonsense, the nanny state, the idiot rules, and the course was a total eye opener, it is simple, it is logical, it makes sense, and it means that employees tend to return from work with the same number of limbs etc, as when they left home.

The Equestrian Establishment ignores the most basic principles of the Health and Safety Executive. By the Equestrian Establishment, I mean The British Horse Society, The Pony Club, The British Driving Society, The Jockey Club and depressingly, Riding for the Disabled. I also include all the various Breed Societies, and those Societies that promote Dressage, Polo, Eventing, Show Jumping etc.

Horse shoes provide a simple example of the Equestrian Establishment's contempt for safety. Riding Helmets are tested to ensure they can survive the impact of a horseshoe shaped anvil. Motorcycle helmets don't have to go through this, so the impact of a horseshoe on a head is clearly a hazard, and clearly specific to horses, and not a problem if you fall off, for example, a motorbike.

It is a basic principle of the HSE that a hazard is subject to a hierarchy of controls. The shoe is clearly such a hazard or they would not test riding helmets on horseshoe shaped anvils. The very last resort in the hierarchy of controls, is PPE, Personal Protective Equipment, for example, a Riding Helmet. Therefore we would expect that the Equestrian Establishment would have tried all the controls in the hierarchy that come before the last resort, PPE.

The first control in the hierarchy is elimination. "This should always be the first consideration as it results in the hazard no longer existing." So what happens if you take the horseshoes off? The BHS manual says that "an unshod horse has a more secure grip on every type of surface. In addition, injury from a kick by an unshod horse is likely to be considerably less severe."

Sounds like the answer is simple. Don't use shoes. The animal is less likely to fall, and less likely to injure you if it kicks, a win win situation. But obviously the shoes can't be removed, or the Equestrian establishment would have done so.

The second solution is substitution. Is it possible that an alternative to nailing a lump of metal to the horse's foot might exist? Maybe something that is lighter and has more give than steel and possibly more grip underfoot. Obviously not, or the Equestrian establishment would comply with the laws on Health and Safety like the rest of Industry has to.

I have driven Obama from Exeter to London testing the Bannedwaggon. Obama wore no shoes on his hind feet for the entire journey, and had no problems with his hindfeet at all. He did the first stage of the journey barefoot in front but I was concerned that his left front foot is prone to bruising on the sole, so used a pair of Old Mac hoofboots for the last 10 days of the 16. He never slipped in the Old Mac's, and had no problems with them.

I can eliminate shoes on the rear and substitute shoes on the front. The Equestrian Establishment can't. Shoes are still the norm, as are injuries to horses and to people. Why does basic Health and Safety not apply? How can an organisation that ignores, or condones, such flagrant abuses of Health and Safety exist and operate openly in 2010?

The answer is obvious. The Equestrian Establishment is the pinnacle of society, and as such, above the law.

Should a concerned citizen report what seems such a flagrant abuse of the law, and if they should, who on earth do they report it to.?

To see some of my marginally more organised rants, try these links. If all else fails, try hitting them with whips. It works with horses, doesn't it? http://sites.google.com/site/wehithorsesdontwe/ http://saddlechariot.comlu.com/index.php

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Safety tyres.

One of the Lancaster University engineers who worked on the Saddlechariot design came up with the fascinating theory that British Driving Society members make their horses wear blinkers so they would have the same restricted view as their owners. It is either that, or a new form of equestrian dyslexia, which means that BDS members are incapable of reading their own website.

This is the BDS on the subject of long distance driving.

Just read this through. Pneumatic vehicles are banned because they are too heavy. Lightweight versions are banned because they aren't.

Someone should get to the next committee meeting and find out what these guys are putting in the tyres of the cars they drive, because they are clearly inhaling it, and wow, it is potent stuff.
Their analysis of pneumatic tyres is, by any standards, a total lie. I have just driven the Bannedwaggon across England, from Exeter to London on ultralight pneumatic tyres, running 22x12x8 slicks on the front and 16x6.50x8 puncture proof on the rear. Obama and I did 200 plus miles of incredibly variable terrain, carrying the thick edge of 250kg without any problems at all.

But the site starts with a lie. Sorry it starts with the BDS, after sniffing whatever goes in their tyres, version of reality.
I would have thought 10 years of designing vehicles to go behind ponies and horses would vaguely fit in the category of "those interested in Equine driving." In that time the BDS have allowed, and probably encouraged their members to attack me, and denigrate my vehicles and ban me from any participation.

Is this really their idea of Encourage and assist?

Yes, but only if you are so far out of the loop that you can ban pneumatic tyres with the sort of meaningless, lying twaddle, the BDS use.

Actually, that is unfair. I know exactly what they mean. Gyppos use car tyres and axles and we don't want gyppos, travellers and common people. So lets ban the preumatic tyres.

OK so they are a private society, shouldn't they be allowed to get on with their own ideas in their own way? Maybe, but that defence also applies to the Ku Klux Klan. Much more damaging is their claim to be devoted to safety. If they are banning pneumatic tyres for the reasons they claim, and not just to exclude Gypsies, are they capable of making any rational assessment of safety.

Their objection to me, is that I build safe vehicles. If I am right, they are in deep animal byproducts, but rather than make their setup safer, they prefer to destroy me. Hardly the action of a safety conscious society, to ignore the guy who has been building safe vehicles for 10 years.

But they are the establishment, so they must be right, and more importantly, nobody is going to take the risk of challenging them.

To see some of my marginally more organised rants, try these links. If all else fails, try hitting them with whips. It works with horses, doesn't it? http://sites.google.com/site/wehithorsesdontwe/ http://saddlechariot.comlu.com/index.php

Friday, 1 October 2010

Time for a new training system.

Having very publicly stated that my training system for Obama is the dog's dangly bits, it is clearly time to redesign it. Improvement is the name of the game, if you aren't improving, you're dead.
Obama coped with an unbelievable level of stress, for which I feel guilty, but I could see no other way to demonstrate the Bannedwaggon, and to a lesser extent, my training system.

Now I am back home, the bones have nearly stopped aching, and I am pretty sure the modifications to the Bannedwaggon are sorted, it is time to look again at Obama's training, or more to the point, to start again.

Yes he coped, but he didn't enjoy the last bits, but then I was terrified, knackered and at the end, in considerable pain, which may have been a factor. He was also frighteningly dependent on me, and hated to be separated, even for a minute. This didn't help my state as shopping for food with a pony in Central London isn't easy, so hunger was added to my woes. Three days, one shop.

I could get Obama through, I could get him to pretty much anywhere, but I couldn't get him to just chill out and relax. But nor could I. Looking back, I can see the need for a time we could interact that wasn't travelling, that wasn't grazing.

Before I do anymore stupid journeys, I need a way to calm Obama down, a sort of horse/human yoga. That I should even consider this says loads about the trip. Normally my opinion of yoga is low, and the thought of me doing it is a complete non starter. My joints don't work at those angles, I'm not getting involved in eastern mysticism, etc etc.

But Adele has taught Obama to enjoy being scratched in a completely different way over the few days he has been chilling out with her and Winston the Mule. She has also taught him that sticks aren't terrifying. What Adele has done, is take an animal I have spent 20 months with, and teach him things I never taught him, and they are things I should have taught him.

The sticks issue, I knew about, and left, because Obama provided a classic demonstration of the evil effects whips produce. As Obama is about to start chariot archery lessons, i was going to deal with the whips issue anyway, I just suspect Adele did it quicker and better than I could have.

The scratching issue is much more important. It would have given me a way to chill Obama out, to bring down the adrenalin levels, even in extreme situations. I used treats, which work, but don't provide the disconnect from reality which a good scratch seems to achieve. The main risk is being crushed as Obama goes into total zombie mode and topples over with an inane grin pasted across his face.

I need to sort out his fear of bridges, going over heavy traffic, echoing high rise urban spaces, and flocks of birds, especially pigeons round his head. If I can do this with scratches, and induce that total disconnect in a high stress location, I have a really stunning training tool. Though Adele provided another very effective tool. Getting someone else to work with your animal.

I am almost convinced that two trainers are more than twice as effective as one. And they don't need to be brilliant. I am going to let everyone else train Obama as the next stage in his development. Obviously under certain rules,
No Weapons
You mustn't deliberately frighten him.

That's it. If scratches work, or singing, or poetry, or dance.............. great. If I can let Obama interact with lots of other people, and learn from them, and enjoy himself, he will be calmer, happier, better trained, and a whole load of novices will have learned about ponies, learned about training, while training my pony and themselves. how cool is that?

Starts tomorrow, keep you posted.

He'll be logging and working round the farm, and delivering books for Bookcycle, and providing a Pony Drawn Birthday Present Delivery service in Exeter, and working on the row crop system, and getting scratched and learning to tow archers round at high speed, and he won't see a whip, or a bit, or blinkers, or a crupper, or steel shoes, or a groom.

To see some of my marginally more organised rants, try these links. If all else fails, try hitting them with whips. It works with horses, doesn't it? http://sites.google.com/site/wehithorsesdontwe/ http://saddlechariot.comlu.com/index.php