New Feed (Again)

A couple of months ago I started changing Brevan over to a new feed, which seems to tick more boxes for me than the Keyflow feed did. I am now feeding Brevan and Nas Pure Feeds. Brevan is on Pure Working, and Nas is on Pure Fibre Balance. I am liking the fact that these feeds are molasses, alfalfa and cereal free, and that they are complete feeds including the fibre element, so that means I don’t need to buy chaff as well as a mix.

Pure Feeds claim that their feed that is “convenient, cost-effective and contains all the ingredients your horse needs for a healthy, happy life. The feeds are formulated by equine nutritionists and made only with natural ingredients, Pure Feeds are palatable and high quality. ” Well, I’ll certainly agree that the feed is palatable, both ponies lick their bowls clean every time.

The Fibre Balance that Nas is on is packed with fibre and a more concentrated ration of their balancer. This makes it an ideal feed for good doers. It gives your horse all the vitamins and minerals they need plus fibre (grass chaff, oat straw chaff and unmolassed sugarbeet) to promote gut health. But it is low calorie, so perfect for horses that do not need a lot extra, put weight on easily or are fizzy. Being low in sugar and starch, it is suitable for laminitics and horses with Cushing’s or gastric ulcers. Having the chaff and balancer in one bag, does make it very convenient, both for buying and feeding. Because it is served in smaller quantities, one bag lasts a long time making it excellent value. Nas is on literally a double handful per feed, so a bag should last about a month or so.

Pure Working that Brevan is on is similar to Nas’s Pure Fibre, in that it’s a complete feed including fibre. “Pure Working is ideally formulated for horses in regular work such as taking part in riding club activities and competing. It is also good for horses with laminitis or Cushing’s who need to gain weight in a safe way. It is low in sugar and starch but contains a higher energy and protein ration. In addition, you will find it a great feed if your horse is at rest or in light work but needs to put some weight on.” The main energy sources in this feed include rapeseed oil and unmolassed sugar beet pulp, so there should be no concerns about fizziness. These provide slow-release energy which gives controlled performance. As well as helping to avoid fizzy or excitable behaviour, Pure Working contains their high-quality balancer, which means that this one feed contains everything your horse nutritionally requires. This includes vitamins and minerals, plus amino acids which helps with topline and muscle development.

At the moment, I’m still trying to work out if this is more cost effective than what I was feeding previously. I think it is, as it works out at the same price per month as the mix I was on, so I’m saving myself the price of a bag of chaff each month. It may not be much, but every penny counts.

Both ponies are looking very well at the moment on this feed, if anything they’re looking a bit too well considering the dry summer we’ve had.

All in all, I think I’ve finally found the feed I’ve been after for a long time. It definitely ticks all my boxes of what I want in a feed. Long may it continue.

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A Successful Day Out For All

On Monday the mother and I took both ponies out to a local in hand showing show. This was mother’s first ever competition, and also possibly her pony’s first ever competition as well. Everybody did really well, and it was a nice low key event to hopefully give the mother a taste for showing.

It was an early start for some of us, while others got more of a lie in. I was up at 4am, to be at the yard for just gone 5am, as I had both ponies to get ready. Mother was going to meet me at the show in time for her first class at 10am. As I’d been working the day before, I hadn’t had a chance to do any of the usual pre show prep that I would normally do, ie: bath, plait, tack clean etc. It didn’t help much that I finished work late on Sunday, not getting home till 9pm, instead of just gone 7.30pm, so my plan of being in bed for 8pm went out the window, so I didn’t get as much sleep as I’d wanted to.

As it had rained on the Sunday evening, both ponies came in Monday morning looking like wild, muddy yaks, and I only had four hours to get the pair of them looking like show horses. I succeeded in the task, but not without a bit of a struggle. Nas does not like being bathed, and really didn’t appreciate having her mane and forelock washed, but after much arguing in the pre dawn gloom, I finally got her clean. Plaiting her was another issue, as I’m going to guess she’s never been plaited up before, and she’s a little head shy. Having the plaiting bands snap while trying to do the top plaits didn’t help much there either. But we got there eventually.

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Brevan gave me different issues to deal with, including him deciding to go to bed while I was dealing with Nas, and he didn’t look best pleased when I kicked him out for his turn at bathing. Thankfully he was actually quicker to get ready, but it helps that he knows that he has to stand still while being plaited up. Though once plaited up, he kept scratching his neck, and I had to redo a couple of the plaits about three times before we eventually left.

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I had meant to leave at 9am, as I was walking both ponies to the show, but I was running a bit late (as usual), and didn’t leave until about ten past. I had just over two and a half miles to walk the ponies, and had given myself forty minutes to do it, but ended up taking fifty minutes, so I got to the show at 10am, instead of the 9.40am that I wanted. We just about had time to get mother and her pony ready for their first class, but she was the last one into the ring, and had got herself a bit stressed.

The first class was Prettiest Mare, and mother was nervous as she didn’t know what to expect (even though I’d explained how these classes normally run), and she was worried about having to run. Thankfully she didn’t need to run and trot Nas up, they just had to walk round. Mum was over the moon to come second out of the four put forward, and the expression on her face says it all!

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The next class was Most Handsome Gelding, so Brevan’s first go in the ring. There were five put forward including Brevan, and we were pulled in third. I may not agree with the judges decision, but then I’m biased, and the judge was definitely a cob man, not a native man. But that’s showing, and at the end of the day it’s only one persons opinion on that day.

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The third class was Veteran, which Brevan was only just eligible for, as it was for animals of 15 years and over, and Brevan turned 15 earlier this year. The other two horses in the class were both cobs, one being 36 years old. Considering the judge was a cob man, I was quite surprised that he pulled Brevan in, in first place ahead of the cobs, but I wasn’t going to complain.

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The following class was Hunter Type with eight in total entered including Brevan. We didn’t do so well in this class, only coming seventh, but the judge said afterwards that Brevan was too small and light for a hunter, though I’d happily take him hunting (if I was brave enough to go in the first place).

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The next two classes were Best Turned Out and Native Breeds, with only Brevan and Nas entered in both of those classes. Brevan came first in both the classes, though I’m guessing that it could have gone either way for the Best Turned Out, as I’d put as much effort into getting both ponies ready. I had expected Nas to win the Native Breeds class, as Brevan has splints on both front legs, and he’s not up to breed standard as I have his feathers clipped off. Between these two classes, I did need all the help from my support crew (husband and friend) to take out the plaits from both ponies, and I needed to change Nas’s browband to a plain one, more suitable for natives.

Class seven was the Coloured class, which included duns, palominos and roans, so I’d entered mother and Nas into this, as Nas is just about a roan. They came fifth out of five, as the judge didn’t think Nas was coloured enough.

The last class of the day was Young Handler, and I’d managed to borrow a friends daughter, who has been riding Nas a few times. Ella came third out of three, and she was a bit disappointed, but mother and I weren’t bothered about her placing, we were just chuffed that Nas had not put a foot wrong, and that Ella had handled her so well, being the only one to get a proper trot from their pony. I do wonder if the pink hat and lack of a jacket may have counted against her, but it was her first ever show as well, and I wasn’t going to get her mum to fork out for a proper hat and jacket for just one show.

Both ponies went into the championship, but didn’t come anywhere, but that was fine, we’d all had a good day, and I was really happy with both ponies and the mother.

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We were all done and dusted by about midday, so as mother had brought enough snacks to feed an army, we all had a bite to eat for lunch, including the mother in law and nephews who had turned up in time to watch the last two classes and championship, before I got ready for the walk home, which was mostly uphill.

Mother met at the yard when I finally got there, and she had almost finished the poo picking in the field for me. So we literally just rugged the ponies up and turned them straight out, even though it was a few hours early.

Both mother and I were tired, but very happy with the days results, and I’m hoping to persuade her to do it again in the near future.

Pony Painting Parties

What on earth is all this hoo ha about on social media this week about pony painting parties, and some woman in Manchester wanting to get them banned? Supposedly it is abuse on the ponies and teaches kids to objectify horses and that we can do anything we like to animals. PLEASE!!!

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From what I’ve been able to find out (sorry, I can’t seem to find the Facebook post I read yesterday morning), quite often this is being used as therapy for kids with autism or various learning difficulties.

Lucy-Anne Petto, who works for Therapeutic Equine Assistance Learning (TEAL), which has worked with companies like My Happy Equine to offer therapeutic events for people with disabilities, says the horses she works with are free to join in the groups or stay in the barn, but 99% of the time, they will come out.

She said: “I’ve worked with adults who have anxiety and who are trying to overcome problems, the paints can be used alongside team-building activities with the horses, so express how the anxiety makes them feel, what it looks like, and physical representation that often helps.”

“We are so grateful to have my happy equine as our sponsors, they make a huge difference to our sessions here at Therapeutic Equine Assisted Learning CIC we work with young people and adults with disabilities and additional needs, not only are the specialist paints really fun to use so a great way for young people to engage in our sessions, they also really help with fine motor skills, imaginative play and being able to express emotions in a physical way that you can see, we also regularly use the stencils and glitter tattoos, hair extensions and glitter hoof balms. Our therapy horses are often looking fun and colourful, great thing is the paints brush off easily too. I can firmly say our sessions are highlighted with the use of My Happy Equine products, our clients aged between 2 – 70 years old really enjoy using them!”
– CIC

Even if being done as part of a standard pony day/party, I still don’t see any particular problem with it, as long as the ponies are well treated, the kids supervised and it’s being used in a way that teaches the kids something by equine professionals. We’ve been painting horses for educational purposes for years, Horses Inside Out is a prime example. they paint the horses skeleton and muscles or even the digestive system onto the horses coat, so that people can see how the inside works in relation to what we see on the outside.

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Admittedly, this isn’t something I’d do with Brevan, but he’s a grumpy bugger and doesn’t like being groomed at the best of times as it is. Nas probably wouldn’t object to it as she seems to enjoy being groomed and having the attention. She would however object to the washing off bit at the end, as she’s not the biggest fan of bathes or water.

People also regularly paint their horses for charity events and fancy dress classes at shows. It does the horse or pony no harm, they don’t know any better, and as far as they’re concerned, their human has just spent a lot longer grooming them than usual. Or are the do-gooders going to try and say that that is abuse as well?

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The claims that it’s a welfare issue are just frankly ridiculous, in all the photos I’ve seen, the pony is half asleep or happily munching their hay, without a care in the world. The greatest welfare concern I have there, is that a lot of the ponies look like they could do with a bit of a diet as they’re a little on the chubby side, but then, a lot of other ponies are through the summer months. The paints that are used are non toxic and often chalk based, and are easily washed out afterwards. I think some show horses have more “paint” on them for competitions than some of these ponies have daubed on them by the kids. Any of the glitter used in some of these paints is edible glitter, similar to that used in cake decorating.

Another claim that this is stressful for the ponies, I think is also ludicrous. Just look at the photos. They’re half asleep, does that seem stressed to you? No signs of stress to me, and I’ve been around horses for 20 years. The people running these events, are going to be highly conscious of the ponies welfare and stress levels, as even a Shetland could flatten a small child (or not so small child) if it wasn’t happy. The kids will be taught the correct way to approach and handle the pony before being let anywhere near it (at least I would assume this would be the case with any reputable company or riding school).

One stable owner and party organiser says they understood the concerns. “I’m sure there are people executing this in a less controlled way, but that isn’t us, or the majority of the professional centres.” They offer children the chance to do non-toxic finger painting on their ponies – which they liken to “grooming and cuddling” – for five minutes at the end of an educational experience. “I am constantly monitoring [the pony’s] behaviour to make sure she is not distressed. Only two children are around her at one time.”

And the whole thing about it teaching kids to treat animals like objects that are purely there for our pleasure, well sorry lady, that boat sailed a long time ago. Or have you missed all the ads about “a dog is for life not just for Christmas” and other things along those lines? PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) are also objecting to these pony parties, but these are also the guys who also object to horses being ridden in the first place (along with other laughable ideas), so sorry, I don’t hold much faith in their claims. They want us to enjoy horses “in all their natural beauty”. Sorry, there is nothing “natural” about the modern horse, most domesticated horses wouldn’t last a year in the wild having to fend for themselves. Humans have bred horses specifically for various jobs for thousands of years, ever since early man first found that you could ride them. If we didn’t ride them, they would either be another meat animal like cattle and sheep, or extinct. The sad fact is that across human history, if we can’t use something we destroy it, be that plants, animals or resources. I’m not condoning this treatment, just stating a fact.

In the grand scheme of things, painting ponies in a controlled and educational setting, is nothing to get your knickers in a knot about. If the pony patting brigade want to get up in arms about something, then maybe they should try concentrating their efforts on real welfare issues or animal abuse, not something that helps to teach kids something worthwhile.

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We Qualified!

On Wednesday we went out competing at our usual local venue, as we needed two more qualifying scores of 60% or more at elementary level, to qualify for the Native Breeds Championship in November. It wasn’t our best day, but we did just about squeak in with two qualifying scores, so I’m happy enough.

It wasn’t too early a start, as we weren’t getting picked up until 9.30am, so getting to the yard at 6am, I had plenty of time to bath, plait and prep.

We got to the show in plenty of time and had a leisurely brush off and tack up. I then got changed, and even managed to stay clean once I was on board. An old school friend and her children came to watch, and they got there before I got on. It is nice to have spectators sometimes, as I don’t get them very often.

Both my tests were very close together, with only ten minutes between my start times, which meant that I only had one opportunity to warm up.

During the warm up, I tried to keep in mind what Maddi had taught me at our boot camp the other week, and Brevan went really nicely. He was soft, supple, relaxed and listening. We got some lovely leg yielding, and some super medium trot. Even our simple changes were on point for once. Our transport lady was quite impressed with how Brevan was looking in the warm-up, saying that it was the best she’s seen him going for a while.

We went into our first test, which was Elementary 43, with me trying to remember to breathe and relax (it’s a work in progress), and everything started off fairly well. The trot lacked a bit of impulsion, but it was soft and relaxed and Brevan was swinging nicely through his back, so I just left it along. It started to go a bit downhill partway through the canter work, as Brevan decided to object to someone stood by the arena edge in our first counter canter. I did manage to keep the correct canter (I could feel him desperate to change, but managed to fight him for it), but in the process he hollowed, tensed and did a good impression of a giraffe. He then stayed tense for the rest of the canter work which lost us a few marks, but otherwise he behaved. I was very pleased, that even with the errors and tension, we still managed to get a good score of 65.8%.

In the five minutes I had before going back into the ring for my second test, I walked Brevan around and tried to relax him again. The second test was Elementary 59, which is quite a fiddly test, with everything coming up really quickly. We started off really well again, and I got a bit more impulsion in the trot work. Yet again the canter work let us down, as again, Brevan decided to be really spooky, this time at the cafe. The cafe was shut, so the lights were off, but one of the organisers was in there while we were in the ring, and Brevan just found the moving shadows in the dark way too much to cope with. So for the second time, the canter was tense, hollow and rushed, with Brevan completely ignoring what I was asking of him. We almost missed the first canter, trot, canter transition as he was paying too much attention to the cafe. We fluffed the simple changes as he just wouldn’t come down to a walk, and he changed in the medium canter, all of which lost us precious marks. I wasn’t expecting much with the score on this test, so I was pleasantly surprised that we just about managed to squeak in with the final qualifying score we needed, on 60.93%. I was honestly expecting a sub 60% score with our performance.

All in all it was a fairly good day, and we are now qualified for the Native Breeds Championship at Novice and Elementary levels. It could have been a better day, but that’s horses for you. I’ve got to find something to chill him out and reduce the spooking, as it’s starting to get stupid now! Any suggestions welcome.

Bootcamp

This week I took Brevan to dressage boot camp with British Dressage accredited coach, Maddi Burchell. My transport lady dropped Brevan down there on Sunday afternoon, ready for our first lesson on Monday morning. I was quite pleased that Brevan settled into his temporary new home with minimal fuss and histrionics, even though he has stallions next to him.

Day one of bootcamp was definitely hard work, for both of us. The morning lesson consisted of Maddie watching how we normally warm up, commenting on how I can improve it and make life easier for Brevan, and then working on our trot work. As I already knew, Brevan is a naturally lazy horse, and likes to do as little work as he can get away with, while making me do as much of it as possible. We worked a lot on straightness, as it would seem that Brevan is leaning his ribcage on my inside leg to avoid working. So we had lots of yelling for inside leg. To get him off my inside leg, we did lots of shoulder in, shallow leg yields and spiralling of circles with shoulder in on the circles. We did get there, and the quality of the trot improved dramatically once Brevan was straight and not leaning. He was then able to carry his weight more evenly from behind, which allowed his back to swing in the trot, and that then helped make the leg yielding so much easier for him. We were both dripping and shattered after our first lesson, and I knew that we had a second one to come in the afternoon still.

Brevan was less than impressed when he saw the saddle come out for the afternoons lesson. The look on his face was a “you are kidding me??!!!?” type face. After warming up like Maddie had advised in the morning, we cracked on with working on the canter. Brevan has the same sort of issues in the canter as he has in the trot, he leans his ribcage on my inside leg, and doesn’t take the weight evenly on both hind legs. Maddie said that he also has quite an earthbound canter, which is why we’ve been struggling with trying to get flying changes, as he needs to get more height and spring in the stride. He also needs to stop leaning on the rein and come off the forehand more. After a bit of work (and much puffing and panting from both of us), we got Brevan straight in the canter and started to get some self carriage as he came off the forehand. The spring and height in the stride improved as well, so I’m confident that if we can keep this up, we will improve his paces and then hopefully improve our dressage scores. By the end of that lesson Brevan and I were both dead on our feet. He was blowing like a steam train and dripping like you’ve never seen. We went for a nice amble round the hay field to cool down and stop puffing, before taking him back to the yard to wash off and put to bed. I think Brevan slept rather well that night!!

Day two had a bit of a change of plans due to the high temperatures, so rather than two sessions of an hour each, we did one session in the morning of two hours. This was very hard work for Brevan, as it was already warm when the lesson started at 9am, and I think he was still a bit tired from day one. We continued the work we’d started the day before, and Brevan was a lot softer to start with, and we got the nice swinging, relaxed trot a lot quicker into the session than I had expected. Brevan grasped what we wanted of him pretty quickly, with no arguments or stropping. We did the spiralling circles with shoulder in again, and this worked really well. We started on a 20m circle and spiralled in to a 10m circle, while trying to keep Brevan’s ribcage upright. Once on the small circle we then leg yielded out to a 15m circle, then did shoulder in on the 15m circle, continued to leg yield back onto a 20m circle and then did shoulder in on the large circle as well.

We also introduced leg yielding in the canter as well in this session. We used the same method as Maddi had me use for trot leg yielding, which is ride as if you’re just going across the diagonal, and then ask for the hind legs to step over. Brevan found this method so much easier, and had a lot less tension and and resistance and a lot more swing through from behind. So for now, we will continue this method of leg yielding and keep the lateral work shallow and allow Brevan to build up more strength and flexibility in his hind end. By the time we finished, Brevan was dead on his feet and well and truly dripping (as was I). I think he slept well that afternoon.

On the third and final day, we again did a single two hour session due to the heat, but this time we started even earlier, at 6.30am. Brevan warmed and suppled up so much quicker, with almost no tension this time, and we got the nice swinging trot almost straight off. We did more work with shoulder in and leg yield in both trot and canter, on circles, down the long side, across the diagonal and down the three quarter lines. As Maddi says, until Brevan’s straight and supple, we won’t be able to do any of the higher level stuff. After just three days, Brevan’s canter has improved, and has more height off the ground and lift through the shoulders. We are starting to get the beginnings of self carriage in the canter at last. Maddi and I were pleased with how Brevan was progressing in this session. About three quarters of the way through the lesson, we were giving Brevan a walk break, and he just stopped, and refused to move another step. Brevan had downed tools and just gone “nope, no more”. He was so tired, and had worked so well, that we decided to let him get away with this and call it a day.

Brevan got a good cold shower after our final lesson, and put into his stable to rest until our transport was due to pick him up that afternoon.

I’m really pleased with how Brevan went this week, it was hard work for both of us, but I feel we got a lot out of it. I’ve learnt some new tools to help me get the best out of Brevan, and hopefully this will show in our next competition. I’d love to be able to do this again soon, but the chances are I won’t be able to afford it again until next year.

New Member of the Family

I’m so pleased to introduce you all to my mum’s new pony, Nas (otherwise just known as Princess), a 13.2hh Welsh Section A (or possibly a cross) of somewhere between 9 and 14 years old.

Mum has been umming and ahhing over getting a horse for as long as I’ve been riding and around horses (that’s about 20 years), and has finally bitten the bullet and got little Nas on loan from a local rescue.

Being a rescue, we don’t know a huge amount about Nas (almost certainly not her original name). The rescue found her a few years ago in a very bad state, and shortly after getting her, she had a foal. After the foal was weaned, Nas was loaned to a family, backed and used as a leadrein pony for their kids. I think she then went to another family where they progressed her training on to being ridden off the leadrein. Last year my friend Vanessa took Nas on for her daughter Issy, but Issy has lost confidence in Nas as unfortunately the pony seems to have a tendency to buck in canter, and had her off a few times.

Other than the bucking in canter, Nas is the sweetest little thing you could ask for, and doesn’t put a foot wrong anywhere else. I have a large soft spot for this little pony, she’s so much more cuddly than Brevan is, and will follow you round the field for scratches and just to be with you. Brevan doesn’t want to know you unless there’s food involved!

I think Nas will be perfect to help mum increase her knowledge and confidence around horses, as over the years due to her health, mum has lost a lot of the confidence that she used to have. This is why at 13.2hh, Nas is great, as mum doesn’t want to ride, just pat and play with something that’s not going to try and kill her.

As mum is still nervous at the moment, the plan is that she comes up a couple of times a week when I’m not at work, so that I can dedicate a few hours each visit to just mum, to help her learn and gain confidence. The hope is that mum gets confident enough to be happy up the yard on her own, without needing help, and maybe even confident enough to handle Brevan as well.

Basically, I now have two ponies, but only pay for one! Winner! Lol. I’d love if between me, mum and various friends small children, we can get Nas out doing some local in hand and leadrein showing classes next summer, or even at the end of this summer, but we’ll have to wait and see.

I can’t wait to update you all with mum and Nas’s progress over the next few months, and hopefully years.

Back Again After a Break

After a bit of a break from competing (mainly due to lack of funds), we finally got out again last week. It’s been two months since we were last out at Blue Barn strutting our stuff, but we’ve been training hard in the mean time, so hopefully we are slowly improving.

Wednesday wasn’t too early a start, as my first class wasn’t until 10.40am, but I did still need to plait up before we could go anywhere, as I wasn’t going to leave Brevan in the field overnight with plaits in, as they probably wouldn’t have still been in by the morning. I’m not sure how much Brevan appreciated being plaited up at 6am, but it was better than the alternative. I managed to get everything done that needed doing before we left at 8.30am, though I did manage to leave my white saddlecloth at home after having finally washed it. Thankfully I had my old competition saddlecloth at the yard, so I just used that instead.

The journey was nice and uneventful, and Brevan travelled well (as he usually does). We got to the venue in plenty of time, so I went to let them know that I was there, and to grovel for a caller for both my tests. I managed to tack Brevan up and get myself changed with no mishaps, and even managed to get on and still have clean white jods. Annoyingly though, the zip on my boots broke, so I had to do the whole competition with one boot mostly undone.

My new instructor, Emma, came to help me warm up, and we managed to get Brevan going quite nicely in the warm up arena. We may have gone a bit better, if Brevan hadn’t decided that the cremello Lusitania foal in the field next door was the scariest thing in the world. It didn’t help that said foal decided that Brevan was the most fascinating creature going, and kept trying to follow Brevan up and down the fence line. Between us we were eventually able to get Brevan to concentrate on the job in hand , with only a couple of minor histronics.

Our first test was Novice 38, which I’ve done I don’t know how many times, but I still hadn’t learnt it. Thank god for being allowed a caller, I don’t know what I’d do if we weren’t allowed to have one. I was really pleased with how Brevan went in this test, he was still a little tense and tight in places, but at other points, he was really starting to relax and work well. As a bonus, I didn’t go wrong at all, and there were no spooks or anything daft. We finished on a really good score of 65.80%, considering this was under our least favourite judge (as she never seems to like Brevan and always scores us quite low), even managing to get an 8 for our first movement!

The second test was Elementary 43, and this didn’t go quite so well. We only had half an hour between our tests, so there was no point untacking or anything, so we just chilled for a few minutes and then went back in to warm up again. This time there was a young stallion warming up as well, who was rather excited and distracted by the mares and foals in the fields next to the outdoor warm up arena. This unfortunately made Brevan a bit distracted and tense, and I wasn’t able to get his brain back before we were due back into the main ring. This meant that the tension was still with us doing our second test, and there were a few little errors ( one or two being pilot errors, but thankfully there were no major mistakes), because of this. Medium canter to collected canter didn’t really happen, as Brevan was just bowling on and not really listening to me to come back and collect, which then meant that the collected trot wasn’t all that good either. So we got plenty of comments of stiff, hollow, tense, insufficient bend etc. I don’t think we did too bad considering, with 61.724%. I was rather pleased with the leg yielding though, as Brevan was less tense than normal for this movement, and wasn’t over bent to the side like he normally is. Again, we had a few nice moments where he actually carried himself properly, but not as many as we had in the first test.

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All in all, I was pleased with our outing. We managed not to embarrass ourselves, and I felt that this was the most positive competition under this judge to date. There is still plenty to work on, but for once I’m feeling positive that we can overcome our issues and finally bring out the inner dressage horse that we’ve been getting glimpses of at home, but hasn’t yet materialised at a show. It will do one day, and then I think he’ll blow people away.

Being a midweek show, it wasn’t very busy, with only three competitors in each of my classes, which is why I haven’t mentioned my placings yet, as they are irrelevant to me under the circumstances. We came first in the Novice ( was the only one in my section), and second in the Elementary (there were two in my section). I’m a lot more interested in our scores and marks rather than placings at this point. Being so quiet did meant that we were back home by lunchtime, and by mid afternoon you’d never have known that we’d been anywhere.

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Summer Clipping

As it’s been so hot recently, and with Brevan being black, I’m considering clipping him out for the rest of the summer. He’s just getting too hot when I ride him, and even after having an early morning lesson last week (9am), we were both absolutely dripping by the end of it.

I know that traditionally you don’t clip in the summer, but I saw this post on Facebook the other day, and it made me think even more about clipping Brevan out. I did clip him last summer, and as soon as I did so, the temperature dropped and it went cold and wet again (maybe that’s another good reason to clip, we need some rain! Lol). As they’re forecasting for it to stay warm and sunny through till the end of August, I am very tempted to follow the advise of the post, which I have copied below.

💈🐴☀️Benefits of Summer Clipping, why it is OK.. And why its not a good idea to hose down & leave your horse in the sun ☀️🐴💈
Written by The Horse Barber – Global Equine Clipping Education 5th July 2018
This handsome man had his summer clip this morning in preperation for a BSJA competition this weekend! Do you find yourself reading with a critical mind – ‘you shouldnt clip’ ??? Or there’s not a lot to come off so why bother?? If so then this post is put together to explain why this is an outdated notion and not applicable to every horse.
In fact its applicable to very few that fall under the ‘don’t clip in summer’ catogory! (I will be talking about those select few in a seperate post shortly)
Clipping horses’ coats had been a tool for enhancing performance for many years – this is nothing new! But i feel like i need to highlight the fact, as there is still an outdated preconception about summer clipping 🙈
Clipping horses who need it, will not interfere with their winter growth (we have about 7 weeks to go before coats change drastically again)
Hopefully this post will open up a few perspectives and minds as to the benefit of summer clipping and why it is more than acceptable, but also beneficial for health and well being.
A horse with less fur on, cools down quicker. Fact.
💦Sweating and raised heart rate is the perspiration process💦
Horses with clipped coats cool down quicker, which enables them to perform by keeping their heartrate down also. Thats the obvious part. Horses are able to keep going for longer than they would ordinarily and comfortably, than when they have a longer coat. This includes the summer coat, given the raised temperatures that we are seeing throught the UK this year.
🏃‍♂️A bit like a human in a gym. We remove layers to continue. We wouldnt train with a jumper on. After all, did you know? Horses are one of the *few* mammals that have the same pirspiration as humans! Except that they have the fur to deal with also!
🛀Wet fur inhibits the body from cooling; and this is the same reason that hosing down hot horses and leaving them in the sun isn’t the best idea in fact its a very bad. (Clipped is better, but still not good practice or habit to waterlog a coat and stand them in the sun, even scraped down they are still wet and not able to perspirate as quickly)
The horse cannot cool through waterlogged / wet coat and so its better to stand them in the shade out of direct sunlight, after hosing down.
So please think twice before advising your friends not to remove excess fur during this hot summer- especially dark coates horses who will be feeling the heat even worse. All words are my own and you may or may not agree. I really dont mind – you saw this post here first! thank you for reading and feel free to share!!💈🐴😊

As far as the advise about washing off goes, I follow that already, albeit almost inadvertently, as the ally way of the yard is in the shade most of the day and almost always has a breeze (or a howling gale), so Brevan doesn’t get to stand in the sun when he’s wet.

A few people have said that I shouldn’t clip Brevan now, as I’ll ruin his summer coat. The trouble is that his summer coat is rather thick, and I worry about him over heating. It’s not like I show him, and to be honest, I know of some people who clip their show horses in the summer anyway. Also, if he’s getting hot, he’s not going to be listening to me and will struggle to follow instructions. Clipping in the summer can make a difference to some horse’s concentration levels as well.

We’re competing tomorrow, and it’s too late now for me to clip him today (unless I still want to be at the yard at 10pm tonight), so we’ll see how we go tomorrow, and then make a decision from there. He may yet get clipped before the weekend.

Who does clip their horse in the summer, and why?

New Sponsor

I’d like to introduce you all to my friend and new sponsor, Laura Campbell of Get Ready, Get Fit. Laura qualified as a personal trainer a few months ago, and has actually been my sponsor for a month now (I was waiting til I had enough photos to be able to do this blog justice).

Laura has been my riding instructor for about a year now, and knows my issues inside out, so our PT sessions are aimed at helping me improve on the ground, what I struggle with in the saddle. Laura is also my best friend, and has known me and Brevan for nearly four years now I think. She knows exactly what I’m capable of, and how far she can push me, and probably pushes me a bit harder than someone I don’t know would, just because she knows when I’m just being a wimp, and when I’m genuinely struggling with something.

I have come to the conclusion that Laura is more than a little sadistic, as I swear that she enjoys torturing me way too much! Saying that, it is starting to pay off, as I have noticed that I am starting to get a little bit more flexible, though if I actually remembered to do my stretches at home that I should be doing, I’d have noticed a bigger improvement by now.

The other week Laura did a postural analysis on me, and it confirmed that I’m tight through my back, neck, chest and legs, while I’m weak in my shoulders, bottom and core. So we have lots of core strengthening exercises to do and lots of stretches for my back and hamstrings (the main one being the PNF stretch in the photo above. Big hint, it hurts like hell, and I scream, a lot).

I am definitely not appreciating the journey so far, but I’m trying to keep my focus on what we’re wanting as the end result, which I will appreciate a lot, as hopefully that will eliminate most of my lower back issues and pain, as well as improve my posture and effectiveness in the saddle.

I hope you’ll all enjoy and support me on this journey of self improvement, and I hope Laura will forgive my swearing and insults! Lol.

An Afternoon with the Kiddies

On Saturday afternoon my friend came to visit Brevan and me with her two young children, Ella and Jake. They have visited before, but this time I had a pony each for them to ride.

We started off having a picnic lunch on the yard, with the kids playing about while Sarah and I had a bit of a catch up. We’ve been friends since school, and even though we drifted apart for a number of years, we drifted together again about two years ago, and Sarah was one of my bridesmaids at my wedding last year.

Before we let the children ride, they had to do a bit of work first to earn their rides. When I’d poo picked the field earlier in the morning, I’d noticed that a fox (probably) had dragged a bag of rubbish into my field and scattered it. So, I decided that one of their jobs was going to be to help me pick up the rubbish from the field (I didn’t really want the ponies trying to eat old cat food pouches).We grabbed one of my old feed bags (I’m so glad that I don’t just throw them away, they do come in handy sometimes), and wandered up to my field to clear up after the fox.

Once that job was done, it was then time for the kids to groom their ponies. As Ella is taller, she was going to be riding Brevan, while her smaller brother was going to have Nas. It turned out that the adults did a lot more of the grooming than the kids did, they ran off and played round by the chickens. Well, we got the ponies all scrubbed up and looking presentable, with minimal injuries, Nas managed to stand on Sarah’s foot! Oops.

When tacking up, I had to borrow my friend Vanessa’s shetland pad to put on Nas, as there was no other saddle for her. At least it meant that for once, Jake had stirrups that were the right length for him. Ella had two twists put into Brevan’s stirrups (I really will need to invest in a pair of childrens stirrup leathers for these two, I don’t like putting twists in) before they were the right length for her.

Once the kids were kitted up, again in borrowed hats and hi viz, Sarah and I took them out for their hack. We went for a lot longer walk than we have done in the past with the kiddies, but in the past we’ve had one of them walking while the other was riding, and had to swap over partway round. This time we didn’t need to do that, so we went for a nice walk round the block, which took nearly an hour or thereabouts. It was a lovely sunny day, but a little warmer than was comfortable, and the horse flies were out in force and bugging the hell out of Brevan.

When we got back to the yard after surviving the horse flies, Ella wanted to have a ride on Nas, so I quickly untacked Brevan and put him in his stable, then took Ella into the school with little Nas. It all went well until we asked for trot. I think Nas’s stride was a lot shorter and quicker than Ella was expecting after riding Brevan, and I may have let the pony trot a little too fast, but long story short, Ella bounced out the side door and fell off! Oops! On the plus side, she did jump straight up and demand to get back on again. So I’m really pleased that the little tumble didn’t knock her confidence. After that we did manage a slower trot, where Ella was able to stay on happily. We even managed a whole lap of the arena in trot. I need to hurry up and teach Ella to ride properly so that I can get her off the leadrein, because that lap of trot was definitely not as fun for me as it was for her.

Hopefully the kiddies will come up again in a few weeks time, when my weekend off coincides with a day that they’re free as well. I’m going to try and teach Ella rising trot on their next visit.