Showjumper John Whitaker visits Weston Equestrian Centre to open new horse therapy unit

PUBLISHED: 16:26 30 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:31 31 October 2018

Tamsin Conyers, Darrell Torrens and John Whitaker (Picture: Victoria Pertusa)

Tamsin Conyers, Darrell Torrens and John Whitaker (Picture: Victoria Pertusa)


Showjumping legend John Whitaker visited the Weston Equestrian Centre in Weston Longville this week. Victoria Pertusa caught up with him to find out why.

Legendary showjumper John Whitaker visited Weston Equestrian Centre near Norwich this week to open an exciting new therapy unit that helps horses to live, feel and breathe better.

Newmarket Equine Salt Therapy, founded by Darrell Torrens, is a a non-invasive, drug free therapy which helps horses with respiratory issues, sinus problems, seasonal allergies. congestion, skin problems and as a general pick me up.

Darrell’s partner, Tamsin Conyers, who owns the yard with her parents, Janet and Ted, was thrilled to have a visit from John, who is one of her childhood heroes.

“It’s very special to have him walking down our yard,” she said. “He thinks an awful lot of the (salt therapy) system because Darrell treats his horses in Yorkshire so that’s why we’re very lucky that he’s come up to see us.

“His horses have felt amazing since the treatment started, so I’ve been looking forward to seeing one of my legends at home!”

John said, “I’m down here in Norfolk today to open Darrell’s new Salt Therapy Unit. I first started using them about a year ago. You can see an instant improvement actually, the breathing, the general condition, the coat. They actually really like it when they’re having it, they seem to take to it straight away, they like it, they improve instantly, you can actually see it working. I’m not easily convinced about new ideas but I’m convinced about this one. It’s good. I like it.”

Darrell Torrens said the Newmarket equine salt therapy system was originally developed for looking after horses with lower respiratory issues.

“For example, with unwanted mucus, we know this was a very hard area to get to,” he said. “The dry, natural salt was able to get to these areas and break up and dilute the unwanted mucus.”

John Whitaker’s career has spanned the past four decades, including regular appearances at the World and European Championships and the Olympics.

His most famous partnership, of course, was with his beautiful grey horse, Milton.

He said the secret of his success was “hard work, more hard work”.

“You need some luck, you need a bit of luck to try and find a really good horse. I think like anything in life if you really want to do something you just go for it, do it. You know, watch the good riders, watch the top riders, copy them and keep trying to improve. In the horse business, you never stop learning, like I’m still learning! I’ve had a great career but I’m still doing it, I’m lucky to still be able to do what I love at my age and there’s some quite nice horses coming along so I’m going to be around for a bit longer hopefully.”

Although showkjumping doesn’t get the coverage it used to in past decades, John is optimistic about the sport’s future.

“I think it looks very, very good – we have some fantastic young riders at the moment,” he said.

“I think it’s a matter of trying to keep the good horses in the country, because the problem is nowadays the top show jumper is worth a lot so that’s the hardest job, keeping them in the country. We have the good riders, but keeping the horses, finding the sponsors and owners is a bit more difficult, but I think the future’s bright.”

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