'Disgraceful' BHA call to ban special rein leaves Mick spittin'
Mick Easterby has been told he can no longer a use a special rein he devised for safety purposes after the BHA branded it potentially unsafe.
The veteran trainer has previously successfully deployed a rein with a velcro strap to stop horses trying to duck under the gate when in the starting stalls.
Now the equipment has been outlawed on raceday by BHA director of equine health and welfare David Sykes because it is felt it poses a risk to horses and riders.
Easterby said: "I think it's disgraceful the BHA has prevented me from using my safety rein. I devised it years ago for a sprinter called Blessingindisguise, who always tried to go under the front of the stalls. It worked with him and he won 11 races.
"It is a rein with some velcro in it. One end is attached to the bit, it goes under the saddle and round the horse's tail, so when the horse is in the stalls it's impossible for it to put its head down to go under the front.
"The velcro is in front of the saddle so when the stall opens the jockeys pulls on that, the rein slackens and the horse has full extension when it starts to gallop. It's no worse than keeping a hood on when a horse is standing in the stalls and the jockey removes it when they open. In fact, it's safer because sometimes the hood doesn't come off properly."
He continued: "It's a safety device pure and simple. Surely there's nothing worse for a horse or a jockey than when it puts its head down and goes under the front gate? This rein prevents that from happening, so I just cannot work out why they won't let me use it.
"It isn't something that will make a horse go faster – it's for safety. If they want to come and see it at close quarters I'll gladly give them a demonstration. All I'm concerned about is the horse and rider."
'Level of risk is unacceptable'
The BHA, however, is concerned of the potential consequences to other runners if the horse came down and the rein came loose.
Sykes said: "The decision to not approve the equipment in question on raceday was taken as it was felt it posed a number of potential safety risks to both horses and riders.
"While we appreciate the equipment has value when used correctly by experienced trainers in the process of educating poorly behaved stalls horses at their home stables, the raceday environment significantly increases the possibility of an incident occurring in association with this equipment.
"We believe the increased level of risk to be unacceptable for both riders and horses."
Responding to those comments, Easterby said: "I did a demonstration at Ripon last week and everyone who saw it said what a great thing it is. With all due respect to Dr Sykes he should come and see it before he condemns it."
Ann Duffield, chairman of the northern branch of the National Trainers' Association, said: "I saw Mick's rein last week and both George [Duffield] and I thought it was a great piece of kit. We need to get it sorted as it is a safety issue – it is something that can prevent injuries to horses and jockeys."
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