Horse riding is an underestimated sport. Riders need to have strong quads and a stable core to ride for long periods of time without tiring. Along with fitness comes the importance of bodyweight as well, which has an effect on one’s performance. So let’s take a look at fitness and diet tips from the UK’s top horse riders that riders of any level should consider.

Keeping active

With more riders taking part in competitions, they need to stay constantly active and in top shape. Equestrian Lizzie Kelly told The Guardian how she exercises frequently in order to keep on top of her weight. In describing her daily routine, she says, “I work[out] 7am until 1pm and 4pm to 6pm every day when I’m not racing, I’m very active and that always helps as you are constantly burning whatever you are eating.” Her training routine is what helped Kelly become one of the world’s best riders. As a result, Lizzie Kelly is now considered one of the UK’s most iconic sports stars due to being the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 National Hunt race in Britain. She understands that in order to win, you need to put in the hours outside horse riding. A typical high-intensity interval training session could involve box jumps, kettle bells or dumbbell swings, bear crawls, and skipping. Incorporating a few repetitions of these kinds of exercises will improve your fitness and stamina levels, which will have a positive impact on your riding ability.

Diet and weight

Horse riders these days control their dietary intake to perform at their very best. Dr. Sue Dyson of the Animal Health Trust discussed the potential risks to horses when their riders are too heavy, such as lameness and discomfort. However, keeping yourself at a healthy weight is often as simple as being aware of the quality and quantity of the food you eat.

Charlotte Dujardin is a three-time Olympic gold medallist in dressage. She's known for winning the gold in both the single and team dressage events in the 2012 Olympics. In a separate interview with The Guardian, she said that she works with a trainer to get the right amounts of protein, carbs, and fats, making sure her diet is attuned to her activity for the day. She often has an egg omelette on wholemeal toast for breakfast, a chicken wrap and a salad for lunch, and a healthy meal consisting of meat and vegetables for dinner. Any rider can improve their diet by eating more fruit, vegetables, and grains for low calorie alternatives that don’t compromise your health. By having a healthy weight you will be able to rider for longer without causing discomfort to your horse.

The importance of days off

While keeping constantly active and eating well is essential, this doesn't mean you shouldn't have any days off. Rest is what allows our bodies to heal from the constant strain, and it's also what helps keep our mental stamina in check. The British show jumper Amanda Derbyshire has won several competitions such as the Winter Equestrian Festival and the Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI3*, and currently has her eyes set on the 2020 Olympics. Despite her intense training regime and big dreams, she still finds the time to take a breather. She told Horse and Hound, that she often takes Mondays off to go to the beach and drink margaritas. Equestrians of any level still need to find the time to take a break and relax, because this is what allows them to get back on the horse stronger than before.
Sophie Amber
 
 
 
Published in Trot On Blogs
Tuesday, 06 August 2019 13:03

We Need To Cheer Each Other On!

Since when have we stopped helping each other? When has it been easier to pull someone down, than build them up? I feel that this applies in everyday life and situations, but today, I am going to focus on the equine industry.

I won’t bore you with statistics or facts, but it is important to consider the sheer volume of abhorrence and bullying which occurs both online and in-life within the industry. Whether this is some troll commenting ‘you ride awfully’ on an Instagram post, or a livery-yard acquaintance telling you that you aren’t looking after your horse properly. Everyone has an opinion, and someone always ‘knows better’. I have certainly been victim of this – I am sure you have, too? There have been so many times when I have sat and cried in the corner of my stable, or have been too nervous to get out of my car at the livery yard, because of things that other people have said to or about me.

I am not going to profess that this blog will help anyone ‘cope’ with these situations, as there really is nothing worse than someone else making you feel worthless as a result of their own insecurities or mindset. All that I can offer you, is that you know yourself and your horse, truly, and you must weigh up how much the opinions of those matter to you.

What I will do, however, is target this post to everyone. Anyone who has upset another, or has been upset by someone. Anyone who has said or thought something hurtful, or has been on the receiving end of it. I am not going to shame anyone, because everyone can change. Everyone makes mistakes - that is how we learn.

So, to learn from these mistakes, I follow these three simple steps…

1. Ask yourself, do I need support?

Support yourself.

You’ve got to start somewhere. Jealousy and hurtful comments towards other people usually stems from one’s own lack in self-confidence. I have certainly been in this position – but I know that this comes from my own insecurities. I know that people who have been hurtful to me have done so for the same reason.

So, let’s turn this around. Why not ask the person whom you are jealous of, to help you? Ask them how they jump 1.20m? Ask them to show you.

Think to yourself, how can I turn this around to be productive, not counterproductive? How can this thought help me and other people, not the opposite? – Because, let’s face it, not only do these thoughts and comments hurt those to whom they are directed, but they hurt you, too. Be grateful for the things you do, the people and horses you have in your life, and the achievements you have. Build on them!

2. Ask your friends, do they need support? 

Support them!

Honestly, what have you got to lose? Be nice! Although this should be altruistic, you will get something back from it; whether this is a good feeling inside, the joy of seeing someone else happy, or returned support.

You can’t give someone a leg up with one hand; literally and theoretically. You have to mean it, and be invested. That means, in terms of the aforementioned analogy, you have got to believe what you are saying! If you don’t believe what you are saying, neither will anyone else.

Think about what you say and the way you say it. I am not professing that we must rehearse every line in our head before speaking, but the phrase ‘think before you speak’ comes to mind. People do have feelings, especially about their ‘pride and joy’ horses. Support the people who surround you, whether these are friends, livery yard associates, other riders at a show - make them feel how you would want to feel. So what, some people only jump 50cm? So what, the successful dressage horse in the box next to you is ‘just a cob’? Does this really affect you? No. Does this affect your horse? No.

3. Look at the bigger picture.

We never know the full story. We can never assume it. All we can do is be approachable and friendly, and give our support to those who need it.

If we all just made a promise to say at least one nice thing to another rider, even just once in a day, I believe that it would make a huge difference. Think of all of the happiness that we would be spreading. I think our horses would appreciate it – we are of much more use to them as happy owners than those sat crying in the corner of the stable!

We need to cheer each other on.

Emily Hancock


 tvsahu

Emily is a final - year BSc (Hons) Bioveterninary Science, documenting her journey to vet school, alongside many adventures with her 'unicorn', Phoebe. 
They love to compete, affiliated in showing, and enjoy unaffiliated dressage and showjumping. And ,of course, they adore hacking out together...
   
Published in Trot On Blogs
Tuesday, 16 July 2019 14:25

You Can Only Let Go If You Listen

Does my horse ‘listen’ to me?

Whilst horses cannot ‘talk’, or speak our language, it is suggested that they are able to understand many of our communicative techniques. Wathan et al (2016) found that horses are able to analyse facial expression of conspecifics, to gain social information. More recently, Proops et al (2018) found evidence of this analysis being used by horses to gain information on heterospecifics; in particular, humans. This study suggests that horses remember human emotional expressions, and associate the memory to the specific face from which they saw it displayed.

One of the most distressing things I that had read when researching this topic is how negative facial stimuli affects horses. Smith et al (2016) measured stress parameters against photographic stimuli; finding increased heart rate to be amongst the most expressed when negative stimuli, such as a frowning face, is presented. Perhaps bear this is mind when you are around your horse?

So… horses are great listeners. But do we listen to them?

In light of this, another phrase comes to my mind… a Winnie-the-Pooh (A. A Milne) quote, of course.

This quote makes me feel so sad, because it really is so true. While horses clearly ‘listen’ to us, we don’t always listen back. They spend time to monitor our emotions, yet do w​e do the same?

The reason that I am bringing this quote up is because this is something I held onto when I lost Rakker. I think it is easy for us, as owners, to stop paying attention. I don’t mean ignore your horse - I mean, get so wrapped up in worry and paranoia that you forget to ‘listen’ to them. I hold my hand up and admit this. Having a sick horse is not easy, and becoming over-focused on keeping them ‘well’ can cloud communication between you both.

When I had the decision to make, I thought about this quote. I thought “What is Rakker saying?” “What does he want me to do?”

Sadly, a genie didn’t fly out of a lamp at this point and give Rakker the magical powers of speech. Instead, I realised that I was being so selfish. I thought I wanted him alive because I would miss him too much if he went. I didn’t stop to think about what he wanted – I wasn’t listening to him.

By ‘listening’ to Rakker, I made my decision, and, as you’ll know, it was his anniversary was on Tuesday. I let Rakker sleep on the 2nd July 2018. I decided to take him to my local vets practice as he had been there many times before – he expected needles and vets. I didn’t want to stress him out by doing it at home, as he was always such an anxious horse when his home routine was disturbed. My vet, who Rakker knew well and trusted, sat with me, as we let him sleep. Rakker’s head was in my arms, as my tears rolled down his cheek. I still get upset with myself for crying because I so badly didn’t want to upset him. But he wasn’t upset. It was honestly like he knew. He was calm and he looked happy. He was led looking at me and he just drifted off, in my arms. He went peacefully.

I have honestly never cried like that in my life. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known your horse, losing them is the hardest thing you’ll ever go through as an owner. Whether you’ve known them for one month or ten years, the pain and overwhelming feeling of loss still applies to you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t grieve for the horse you’ve known for one month; only you know what you had with that horse. Only you know what you went through and the times you spend together.

Despite all, what I do keep in mind is this:

By letting him go, I listened to him. I let him talk to me, and I listened. I didn’t let my own words overwhelm his.

Although two years with him wasn’t long enough, I’ll have the memory of him with me forever. No one can take the memory of him away. I get to keep those, for the rest of my life, and, for that I am so lucky. He taught me so much. Not only whilst he was here, but afterwards, too. I am so privileged to have known him, I cannot forget that.
Please take the time to listen to your horse.
If anyone is going through the awful decision of letting go, I hope this blog has helped. I send hugs and support your way. ​
Emily Hancock
 tvsahu
Emily is a final - year BSc (Hons) Bioveterninary Science, documenting her journey to vet school, alongside many adventures with her 'unicorn', Phoebe. 
They love to compete, affiliated in showing, and enjoy unaffiliated dressage and showjumping. And ,of course, they adore hacking out together...
   
 
 
Published in Trot On Blogs
Tuesday, 02 July 2019 10:06

Have You Hugged Your Horse Today?

It is so easy to get wrapped up in life. We can become so focused on the little things, forgetting about the bigger picture. Many of us have goals. Whether it is competing at BE100, or gaining >70% in a dressage test, these aims can cloud us; overcoming the joy of owning a horse.

I have been that person who has sobbed next to their horse at a competition when the test sheet came back with a low score. I have been that person who sits in the stable, moping, wondering why things didn’t go better in the show-ring. I have been there. I think we all have? At the time, you can’t understand why your horse refused the jump; why the perfectly good dressage test resulted in a low score; or why, no matter how hard you try, you just don’t seem to be winning. These feelings can overcome you. They can jeopardise the relationship which you have spent so long to build with your horse; removing the reason why we get up at such unholy hours every day to see them! 

My suggestion? 

1. Just pause when you feel like this. Think to yourself… “Am I actually going to remember losing this class in 10 years’ time?” Try and remember what it felt like BEFORE you got that score sheet, or it all went ‘wrong’. 

I don’t think I am breaking news when I say that horses cannot read test sheets, or jumping penalty scores. All they know is that they tried their hardest for you and had a wonderful day out. They can’t understand why you are upset with them for, let’s say, getting a tad expressive in the canter transition, when all they were just doing their best Valegro impression, to wow the other horses (!). Sometimes it’s rider error, too! I can openly admit that there have been days which I have not given 100%; days which stress and fear of other things in my life have overcome me. I cannot expect my horses to be perfect all of the time, if I am not? 

Horses also have bad days, too. They have their own stresses and fears in everyday life, just like us. These, we may not even recognise, because they can’t tell us! Phoebe can’t tell me if she had a really stressful night because the wind was rustling leaves on the stable roof. She can’t tell me that this has made her on-edge for our competition, so I won’t judge her for it. So, when you come first or last in that show class, make them KNOW that they have won, to you. They have won your heart, at the end of the day. Remind them of this. Regardless if you and your horse won the class, or not. Think of small victories. Remind yourself of the positives.

2. Don't compare yourself to others (easier said than done, eh?)

I am totally guilty of this. "Why didn't I win, when they did?", "I am doing the same as that rider, why aren't I as successful as them?"

- because, everyone is different. Just because someone else has the same age horse, is the same age rider, and trains at the same level, doesn't make you the same. Everyone copes differently at competitions, everyone has different strategies of training. It certainly doesn't mean that one way is better, or right, over another, it just means that you just have to find the strategy which works for you and your horse. If all horses and riders were the same, everyone would be at 'top' level! 

3. Remember you are only human, and your horse is a only a horse! 

I think it is quite easy to forget that horses aren’t humans. They are so emotional and intelligent, it makes us forget that they have only been domesticated for ~6,000 years. But, it is vital to remember that they ARE horses. They are herd animals, prey animals. They rely on numbers for safety. Naturally, horses are routine animals, and as we know, stay in the same herd for most of their life. Our domestic routine totally disrupts their natural behaviour. Just remember this when you ask your horse to go for a hack, or around the cross country course at an event. Even just bringing them in from their field for a groom, you are asking them to leave their ‘safe-place’ and their herd, making themselves vulnerable. For you. Horses get nothing from going out competing. The only thing they have, is that they are with you, so, make this the best experience for them. You deserve to be happy as a rider – after all, you are already among the privileged few to own a horse. Likewise, they deserve to be happy as a horse – they don’t owe you anything. They do what they do because they know it makes you happy (and a few treats certainly won’t go amiss!).

Equally, you are only a mere human. So what? You forgot the test movement? You almost flew off when your horse took a stride out? So what? Your horse doesn't care! Your horse is just happy that you are in their life, to feed and look after them. They don't mind if you only want to hack, or if you just want to bring them in for a cuddle tonight. Don't beat yourself up, you are doing great! 

4. Remember this... 

So, when life gets in the way, and you find yourself getting caught up, hug your horse. Hug them. Appreciate them and everything they do for you. Remind yourself how lucky you are to be a part of the privileged few. Forget about the red ribbon. Focus on the small victories, even if you have to micromanage. Sometimes, just getting the bridle on is a victory in itself. Own them, own the victories – celebrate them.
 
Enjoy the moment. Every time you ride your horse, it is one less ride you will get with them. Every day is one less, every day could be the last. Sorry to be fatalistic, but it’s the truth. 
 
Hug your horse. 
Emily Hancock
  
They love to compete, affiliated in showing, and enjoy unaffiliated dressage and showjumping. And ,of course, they adore hacking out together...
   

Published in Trot On Blogs
Monday, 26 February 2018 15:39

Ice and a Slice with an Equestrian Twist

Here's something warming for the current cold spell! Ginkhana. 

Launched as a “local spirit with an equestrian twist”, it is the lastest in Scottish Gins from Royal Deeside.

Themed around the Horse Culture in the area, its ‘horsey’ inspiration doesn’t stop at the name - the gin is infused with Meadow Hay, Carrots, Apple and Mint.

Ginkhana is described as a fantastically smooth and sweet gin, which makes it perfect dram to sip neat, over ice with a mint leaf, or as a Gin Martini with a high quality Vermouth. It is equally at home as a Gin and Tonic with Mint and Apple.

Sounds like a top tipple if ever there was one. Cheers!


 
Published in Trot On Blogs
Wednesday, 24 January 2018 12:21

How to Spot the Car of a Horse Rider!

Let’s be honest, most horsey people don’t spend lots of time cleaning and preening their cars and their most important function is getting us to and from the yard whatever the weather, and as a result are often subject to being forced through mud and pond-sized puddles. In the countryside, these dirt-caked cars are the norm, but prepare to stand out from the crowd when you drive your mud-mobile into town to be greeted by raised eyebrows and concerned looks as you park upside a sports car that has been polished to within an inch of its life! 

Here are some of my top ways for spotting the car of a horse-rider from a mile off…

• Your car becomes your tack room… We’ve all been there…we say to ourselves, “Oh I’ll just keep this rug in my boot in case I need it next week,” or “I’ll just put these spare reins on the back seat so I don’t loose them.” Why is it that equestriennes tend to gradually move the entire contents of their tack room into their car?! And that's not to mention extra jackets, boots, scarves etc for myself.  Whether it’s a sponge, a saddle or a stray exercise boot, you will struggle to find the actual seats beneath all the horsey items. My car is basically like a moveable saddlery shop, much to the bemusement of my poor non-horsey friends who have to drive anywhere with me. Anyone who gets in my car is now fully prepared to have to sit on a numnah with a riding hat on their lap!

• It also becomes a hay barn… Not only do we shed hay and straw from our clothing wherever we go but ONLY horsey people would think it’s a good idea to stuff an entire bale of hay on the back seat (for the record, it definitely isn’t a good idea). Putting wedges of hay in the car seems like a wonderful solution for taking it up to the field, but actually it leaves your car looking like a combine harvester has just driven through it.

• The smell…  Sadly, no amount of air freshener can conceal the aroma of horse poo, horse sweat and tack cleaner. Over the years I have tried pretty much every scent the local garage has to offer, yet people still get in my car and make polite comments about the ‘countryside smell’. Unfortunately, I don't think if I bottled it, they'd buy it!

• The ever- present wellies… I just counted, and I have an impressive three pairs of wellies crammed into my boot. Given that I am at a university in the middle of the city, three pairs of wellies really doesn’t seem necessary. However, a mud-clad pair of wellies is an essential part of my car – after all, I guess you never know when you’re going to need to wade through a field of mud!

• The horsey stickers on the back windscreen… Something I’ve noticed over the years is that horse riders always have stickers plastering the windows of their car. Whether it’s a Countryside Alliance sticker, the British Dressage logo, or, in my case, a sticker that promotes horse & rider road safety, it's a sure sign it's an equestrian's car. I also have a load of rosettes pinned up on my parcel tray above my boot, just in case the driver in the car behind me cares that I won a show last week.

three dogs on leads tethered to a car bumper at horse event

• The dog… A canine is a valuable addition to many horsey families, and are almost always bundled in the car on the way to the yard. As a result, muddy paw prints and dog hairs (combined, of course, with horse hairs) are likely to decorate your car seats, along with various chewed up toys and leads. Dogs are also an essential companion at shows, and more often than not have their own special spot in our lorries.  

• The mud… Last, but by no-means least, is the mud that seems to get ingrained into the paintwork of our cars. Driving up country lanes and through fields sure takes its toll, and no amount of cleaning will make my car shine like it used to. It is not just the outside that has suffered – people always half-heartedly ask if they should take their muddy boots off when they get in to my car, but sadly it is far too late for that. Muddy boot prints are now a permanent feature of the interior design. 

Although keeping our cars tidy may not be at the top of our priorities, I have picked up a few tips which have helped to keep my car at least slightly presentable….

• Make use of a tarpaulin… Lining your boot with a sheet of tarpaulin can make all the difference, particularly if you are using your car to move hay and straw around. It means that all the little bits of hay can’t work their way right into the fabric of your back seats, and then when you get to the yard you can just shake the tarpaulin out. You can buy them online for about £5, so it is a super cheap and easy solution. 

• Recycle old feed sacks… Old feed bags are the PERFECT shape for recycling as wellie bags. I keep all my wellies in old plastic sugar beet sacks, which saves my car boot getting quite so embarrassingly muddy. 

• Keep a spare pair of shoes with you… On a similar note, I always keep a pair of clean (ish…) trainers in my boot. Then when I finish at the yard, I can put them on to prevent the inside of my car from turning into a field. Wellies also aren’t safe to drive in, so I always make sure I change my shoes before I go anywhere. 

• Invest in a clothes roller… These can be brought from most high street retailers, and are the life-saving essential that you never knew you needed! They are brilliant for picking up bits of horse hair from your clothes and car seats, and are a must during clipping season (unless you want to end up hairier than your pony). 

Of course, there are a few exceptions – some horsey people do somehow manage to keep their cars looking pristine, but I’m certainly not one of them! Do you have any tips for keeping your car clean? Or have you, like me, reached the point of no return… 
Published in Trot On Blogs
Monday, 22 January 2018 12:42

"Ohh, Mother"

There are plenty of things that we say and do which I’m sure our horses think are totally ridiculous. I sometimes imagine I can hear Archie sighing “Ohh Mother” in a similar tone to how a bored teenager would express their exasperation to an embarrassing parent. For example…

• We insist on an excessive amount kisses and hugs. A hello one, a goodbye one, one when you’ve had to tell them off and now feel guilty…

• We fight the eternal battle against mud and stable stains when quite frankly a roll appears to be the preferred activity at all times.

• We get hyped up about a competition for which we spend month preparing and then approximately 10 minutes actually showing what we can do.

• We turn up with fancy colour coordinated kit and exclaim at how much they must love it when in fact their eyesight has pretty limited colour vision.

• We put words in their mouths (a prime example being the title of this blog!) when in reality all they probably care about is who is delivering the next meal.

The relationship between humans and horses has had a long, sometimes stormy, but often beautiful history. It’s safe to say that a lot of our behaviour makes no sense to them but they are kind enough to tolerate our foibles and love us anyway!

joae150As it says on the tin, this is a personal blog about the journey Archie and I are taking in discovering the world of eventing. Archie is a 6 year old Irish gelding, and I am a 26 year old horse addict. I didn’t grow up in a family with horses, and Archie was the first horse I ever owned, having loaned for over 20 years. I hope that we can show other riders who perhaps don’t feel that they can achieve their dreams, that anything is possible!
 
 
Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog
Published in Trot On Blogs

Trot On member, Kaitlin Woods, continues her blog sharing her journey - the ups and the downs, with her new ex-racing thoroughbred steed, Freddie. Here, in this posting, (originally written back in October last year), Kaitlin explains how she's had to deal with a dramatic loss of condition in Freddie shortly after his arrival.

Well that has flown by! 2 whole months and one week my boy has been home and it's honestly been amazing but a hell of a journey already...

If you haven't read my first blog posting, my lovely new ex racehorse came home on the 14th August, but with a superficial digital flexor tendon injury (more info on the blog, go have a read!) Since arriving home I've been ensuring Freddie remains as calm and sane as possible as to not damage the leg further by dancing and running about. The leg has continued to not show any signs of heat or swelling so fingers crossed he is fixing well. 

Our first hurdle to overcome arose a week and a half after Fred came home. He came to me in amazing condition, which as we all know with racehorses isn't always the case. I believe that if a horse is well on the inside, he will shine on the outside. Well fed, very loved and cared for and there you have it, a magnificent looking animal. Marie Mcguinness, Freddie's old trainer honestly adores her horses and my god does it show. (I believe that is why Freddie is one of the kindest horses I have ever met, he has been loved and cared for like a true king.) However, once Freddie came home, he had a bit of an adrenaline shock, I think it all hit him (as many ex racehorses out of training experience) - a new home and environment and a completely different routine, and he drastically lost condition and almost sagged... 

Freddie when he arrived                                                                                             Freddie 1 week in

Freddie 2 months in

He has lost back muscle from no work but his overall condition really fell. Very worrying that a horse can change so much in such a short space of time… Time for operation feed that can help! One problem… feed really isn't my thing, having had the pony for 8 years that really did not need feeding I was stuck on where to even begin! Thankfully help was on hand at my local country and feed store, a lady who had thoroughbreds too helped me to decide on what was best for Fred. He hasn't been confirmed for ulcers but being a racehorse and their high sugar, low fibre diets and the fact he was windsucking after eating his handful of high fibre nuts (although he does windsuck out of boredom too), I have gone for a molasses free chaff, in particular the Dengie Alfafa A one as well as Coolstance Copra meal which is well known for being a weight gaining feed especially used by many thoroughbred owners. What a transformation this has given! Freddie is looking so much better, I’m very pleased. However, with Freddie hopefully coming into work very soon once he’s been scanned I am slightly dropping his feed as he is feeling quite well from an oil based feed and I don’t want unnecessary fizz in the early stages. I’ll keep you updated on what he’s eating and how we are getting on!

Freddie has continued to be hand walked daily to strengthen the leg and see the world. He’s been such a good boy, even in the worst of weather conditions and traffic he has maintained a very cool and level head and I’m so proud of him for that. We have the odd excited moment but overall a very good boy, it’s honestly like walking your dog! Long may it continue when I’m on board him!!

Over the last 3 weeks Freddie has been moved into a bigger paddock, finally no more squares! He’s so happy bless him, the first time I turned him out I was expecting a bit of an explosion but he just walked the perimeter of his new field before giving me a little glance of approval and then of course got straight down to business… eating! He does have the occasional play about but no heat or swelling appears from the leg and unfortunately he cannot be bubble wrapped forever! He is definitely a food boy though, and as long as there is good food the excitement soon passes so he can munch away again. 

The other big step we took was to turn him out with Inky, the other ex-racehorse who is a true gentlemen and looks after everyone. All being well all three will be turned out together full time after we know whether the leg is ok and so an introduction to Inky seemed a good idea. It was like dropping my child off at school!! “Be nice, don’t hurt anyone and don’t hurt yourself!!” They loved each other, a little trot around in excitement and then settled straight down to eating the same blade of grass… bromance blossoming!

We have also reduced the length of time that Freddie is wearing his stable bandages, from 24/7 when he was on complete box rest to only at night when he came home. I then started to apply the bandages every other night and so on. He now doesn’t wear them at all and there has been no swelling at all. Good sign!

I did notice about a month in that he had a slight cold and snotty nose, I took it a bit easy on the walking in case he was feeling a bit under the weather. But he was soon fine and I didn’t have to have snot wiped over me when I was trying to lead him! Always a bonus  

Freddie also has a new medium weight rug for the chilly winter nights as I will be keeping him out mostly as they have a large field shelter which we bed down with straw. I also love the detachable hood and ‘atlantic blue’ suits him rather well don’t you think?!

So that’s it for our second update! I fall in love with him more each day and can't wait to see what the future holds, it’s not always easy but a very good journey never is! Just over one week to go until his scan and then fingers crossed the real fun can begin, mega excited!

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more news on Mr Fred. 

kandf 250

 

 

 

 

 

Kaitlin and Freddie xxx

Published in Member Blogs

Trot On member, Kaitlin Woods, continues her blog sharing her journey - the ups and the downs, with her new ex-racing thoroughbred steed, Freddie. Here, in this posting, (originally written back in October last year), Kaitlin explains how she's had to deal with a dramatic loss of condition in Freddie shortly after his arrival.

Well that has flown by! 2 whole months and one week my boy has been home and it's honestly been amazing but a hell of a journey already...

If you haven't read my first blog posting, my lovely new ex racehorse came home on the 14th August, but with a superficial digital flexor tendon injury (more info on the blog, go have a read!) Since arriving home I've been ensuring Freddie remains as calm and sane as possible as to not damage the leg further by dancing and running about. The leg has continued to not show any signs of heat or swelling so fingers crossed he is fixing well. 

Our first hurdle to overcome arose a week and a half after Fred came home. He came to me in amazing condition, which as we all know with racehorses isn't always the case. I believe that if a horse is well on the inside, he will shine on the outside. Well fed, very loved and cared for and there you have it, a magnificent looking animal. Marie Mcguinness, Freddie's old trainer honestly adores her horses and my god does it show. (I believe that is why Freddie is one of the kindest horses I have ever met, he has been loved and cared for like a true king.) However, once Freddie came home, he had a bit of an adrenaline shock, I think it all hit him (as many ex racehorses out of training experience) - a new home and environment and a completely different routine, and he drastically lost condition and almost sagged... 

Freddie when he arrived                                                                                             Freddie 1 week in

Freddie 2 months in

He has lost back muscle from no work but his overall condition really fell. Very worrying that a horse can change so much in such a short space of time… Time for operation feed that can help! One problem… feed really isn't my thing, having had the pony for 8 years that really did not need feeding I was stuck on where to even begin! Thankfully help was on hand at my local country and feed store, a lady who had thoroughbreds too helped me to decide on what was best for Fred. He hasn't been confirmed for ulcers but being a racehorse and their high sugar, low fibre diets and the fact he was windsucking after eating his handful of high fibre nuts (although he does windsuck out of boredom too), I have gone for a molasses free chaff, in particular the Dengie Alfafa A one as well as Coolstance Copra meal which is well known for being a weight gaining feed especially used by many thoroughbred owners. What a transformation this has given! Freddie is looking so much better, I’m very pleased. However, with Freddie hopefully coming into work very soon once he’s been scanned I am slightly dropping his feed as he is feeling quite well from an oil based feed and I don’t want unnecessary fizz in the early stages. I’ll keep you updated on what he’s eating and how we are getting on!

Freddie has continued to be hand walked daily to strengthen the leg and see the world. He’s been such a good boy, even in the worst of weather conditions and traffic he has maintained a very cool and level head and I’m so proud of him for that. We have the odd excited moment but overall a very good boy, it’s honestly like walking your dog! Long may it continue when I’m on board him!!

Over the last 3 weeks Freddie has been moved into a bigger paddock, finally no more squares! He’s so happy bless him, the first time I turned him out I was expecting a bit of an explosion but he just walked the perimeter of his new field before giving me a little glance of approval and then of course got straight down to business… eating! He does have the occasional play about but no heat or swelling appears from the leg and unfortunately he cannot be bubble wrapped forever! He is definitely a food boy though, and as long as there is good food the excitement soon passes so he can munch away again. 

The other big step we took was to turn him out with Inky, the other ex-racehorse who is a true gentlemen and looks after everyone. All being well all three will be turned out together full time after we know whether the leg is ok and so an introduction to Inky seemed a good idea. It was like dropping my child off at school!! “Be nice, don’t hurt anyone and don’t hurt yourself!!” They loved each other, a little trot around in excitement and then settled straight down to eating the same blade of grass… bromance blossoming!

We have also reduced the length of time that Freddie is wearing his stable bandages, from 24/7 when he was on complete box rest to only at night when he came home. I then started to apply the bandages every other night and so on. He now doesn’t wear them at all and there has been no swelling at all. Good sign!

I did notice about a month in that he had a slight cold and snotty nose, I took it a bit easy on the walking in case he was feeling a bit under the weather. But he was soon fine and I didn’t have to have snot wiped over me when I was trying to lead him! Always a bonus  

Freddie also has a new medium weight rug for the chilly winter nights as I will be keeping him out mostly as they have a large field shelter which we bed down with straw. I also love the detachable hood and ‘atlantic blue’ suits him rather well don’t you think?!

So that’s it for our second update! I fall in love with him more each day and can't wait to see what the future holds, it’s not always easy but a very good journey never is! Just over one week to go until his scan and then fingers crossed the real fun can begin, mega excited!

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more news on Mr Fred. 

kandf 250

 

 

 

 

 

Kaitlin and Freddie xxx

Published in Trot On Blogs
Thursday, 11 January 2018 10:27

Healthy Equestrians

At this time of year there are endless articles popping up on my news feed about “how to change your life” and “how to make this year your year“. I eventually succumbed to the pressure of Facebook’s advertising and clicked on a link which boldly suggested it would provide lifestyle habits that would make me healthier. I was then pleasantly surprised (and rather smug) to see that nearly all of these habits are part of my daily life thanks to horses. So that you too can all feel justified about the small fortune you spend on your horses here’s the magic list…

1. Find a form of exercise that you love doing. Easy. Done. Next.

2. Use meditation and ‘mindful’ exercise in your daily life. When I’m schooling Archie I don’t have enough brain space to work him properly and stress about life. To get the best from your horse you have to give them your absolute focus. This is my version of mediation and it’s very effective. On top of that a blue-sky day out hacking is equally as cathartic and a fast gallop up a grassy track really blows your cares away.

3. Rising early. Impossible not to when you have horses, even if they are on full livery! Eventing days result in alarm times that are simply criminal for a Sunday morning.

4. Have a good bedtime routine.  I’m usually so knackered after a day at work, a long commute and then an evening ride that a bedtime routine is unnecessary. Sleep is never a problem.

5. Find friends who identify with your challenges. Fellow equestrians are the only ones who really understand the highs and lows of horses. It’s through horses that I have made true friends for life.

6. Find a passion or creative outlet. Whether you love dressage, showing, or eventing, what with all the amazing shows throughout the year and the never-ending  stream of social media the options are endless. We are spoilt for choice!

So there you have it. Horses tick every box on their list of “Habits for a Healthy Mind and Body”. You might be broke and covered in mud all the time, but you’re healthier, and happier, for it.
 
 
Re-published by kind permission of Journey of an Amateur Eventer|Blog
Published in Trot On Blogs
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