What is a Monty Roberts blanket?

What is a Monty Roberts blanket?  The Monty Roberts blanket takes its name from its inventor, American horse trainer, or ‘horse whisperer’, Marvin Earl ‘Monty’ Roberts. Originally designed in the early Nineties, the lightly-padded blanket is fitted, temporarily, behind the saddle and covers the hindquarters of a horse down as far as the hocks, or the equivalent of the human ankle. Other styles of stalls blanket exist but, in Britain, Monty Roberts has become synonymous with this type of equipment.

All starting stalls include rails, on either side, on the inside walls, on which jockeys can put their feet down. In the absence of a Monty Roberts blanket, contact with these rails can cause some horses to become claustrophobic and unruly. The purpose of the blanket, therefore, is to protect the ‘vulnerable’ areas of the horse, such as the ribs or stifle joints – the equivalent of the human knee – from unwanted brushing, or bumping, against the starting stalls. A rope is attached to a ring at the rear of the blanket, so that it can be pulled off by a stalls handler when the stalls open.

What is a stipendiary steward?

What is a stipendiary steward?  In Britain, horse racing stewards are officials appointed by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). They are a mixture of unpaid volunteers and paid, or ‘stipendiary’, stewards who, collectively, oversee the fair running of races, Flat and National Hunt, and enforce the Rules of Racing. A ‘stipend’ is a fixed, regularly-occurring payment, so ‘stipendiary’ is simply the term used to differentiate those stewards who are salaried employees of the BHA from those who are not. At any race meeting, there are typically two, or possibly three, stipendiary stewards – many of whom are former jockeys – on duty.

In the event of a potential breach of the rules, the stewards will call an enquiry, led by a stipendiary steward, to investigate any issues and determine a course of action, if necessary. Having reviewed the race in question and interviewed the jockeys concerned, the stewards have the power to promote, demote or disqualify horses and to hand down suspensions to jockeys guilty of riding infractions, such as ‘improper’ or ‘careless’ riding, which may not, necessarily, have affected the result of the race under scrutiny. They can also forward matters to the BHA Disciplinary Panel for further consideration.

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