It originally started out as a couple of evenings a week but progressed rather rapidly to nearly every day and every waking moment outside of work. It was then that I realised I had lost my wife to horses, and the only way to see her was to join her.
The first time Reena dragged me round to meet her horse Beau, I was genuinely terrified (and trying not to show it!). Unsure how to act or behave around horses having never had any exposure to them it took a while for us to develop a mutual understanding. Ten years later and we’re nearly there, although like all equestrian husbands there are plenty of things I’ll never understand.
• Rugs: I’ve given up trying to comprehend why a horse needs quite so many rugs. It seems rather unnecessary and as much as she tells me they are bought second hand or on eBay I’m never 100% convinced. More just seem to arrive every year, all with some new and vital purpose, and that’s not even thinking about all the tack and other kit that seems to arrive with them!
• Competitions: I secretly enjoy competition day, despite the requisite moaning about having to get up at 5am and how everything (including my car) gets completely filthy within ten minutes. It’s cost effective too as by acting as chief photographer we save a fortune on professional photos.
• Dressage: I’ve never ever understood the appeal. I get what a flying change is now and how the canter is supposed to look when the horse is working correctly, but why you would do that when you could just “go fast and jump stuff” around the cross country?
• The yard politics: I thought girls at school were bad but I was unprepared for yard politics, put too many of them in one place with a bunch of horses and oh wow… it really gets dramatic! Fortunately while she gets it off her chest all that is required of me is a few encouraging noises interspersed at the right moment.
• The unspoken secret: Despite having plenty of hesitations about buying Archie, and the odd comment of how much of our monthly income disappears into the black hole of horse expenses, I am much more smitten that she is now, and there is no way he is ever leaving us. Fact.
My advice to any of you out there whose wives/partners are entering into the world of horses, just go with it and get involved. They’ll be much happier for it, and happy wife happy life right?!
As 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
Horses. How much do we love them?... We thought we'd count the ways by picking out some of our favourite quotes from Trot On members....
"Never know where love for horses ends and blind obsession begins!" Dazzle.
"They make the World a better place." sophieandcallum.
"They make you stop worrying about everything else - in the moment with your horse is where it's at." Loes and co.
"Horses are better listeners than anyone. They're also the best huggers. Horses are a girl's best friend....screw diamonds!" Brealyn10
"They are still wild at heart but they are willing to share that with us." EspritCheval.
"You can't hide from a horse - they know you for who you are and don't judge you by anything else. You can just be you with your horse." Gallante.
"...just the smell of them is better than any drug, legal or illegal, that will ever be made!" Fi919
"Because you can tell them every little thing and never ever will they tell another soul." vesophie.
"My horse is half of my heart, my soul, my very being. You take her away and you will lose half of me...." Polkadotpolly.
"I have no choice.....they are in my blood. Part of who I am." MoonShadow.
"If you could have someone running the country for us, wouldn't it be great if it was a horse. There is no falseness or lies, no nasty back biting." Leah2004
Now tell us why you love horses... ♥
A few months ago I succumbed to a joint supplement and feed balancer for Archie, after a lot of protesting and time spent looking into whether it was worth it. I learnt a lot about the equine supplement market and also became aware of the huge lack of research out there for equine health. Archie has “clicky stifles”, most likely a condition called upward patella fixation, which doesn’t cause him any particular distress but does mean that he gets stiff behind in the cold weather when he has been stood in. He has never had a lame day, and as he has gained strength in his quadriceps things seem to have settled down, however it is because of this that I decided to go ahead with a joint supplement. Here’s how I ended up at that decision…
As many of you will know I am a bit of a stickler for “evidence based care” when it comes to horses. I’m sure this stems mostly from my day job, but I find that so much equine health is purely advertising and preying on owners desire to do the right thing for their beloved horses. When it came to looking into joint supplements I spent a bit of time looking into both glucosamine and I even collared the orthopaedic registrar during a hip replacement I was anaesthetising for and quizzed him on the current evidence for use of glucosamine in humans. The problem with equine joint supplement research appears to be that the studies which have been undertaken are not particularly conclusive, and there is no financial incentive for companies to complete more in depth research due to the competitive market place and low investment return.
What we do know is that some studies have shown improvement in range of movement, handler scores and lameness grade when supplements containing glucosamine (10g per 500kg horse per day), chondroitin sulphate and MSM have been used. There is very limited information regarding the safety of joint supplements, but at the dose of 10g/500kg horse/day there doesn’t appear to be any recognised side effects. Purchasing your supplement from a company you trust is vital to ensure there are no additional fillers or bulking agents added, and make sure you check the dosage of supplement you are actually giving. Having looked through quite a few options I found that many recommended the 10g/500kg horse/day for an initial loading period and then reduced the dose to around 5g for maintenance. As far as I can tell from the literature there is no evidence for this dosing regime.
When it comes to supplements, sometimes teasing out the placebo effect from the clinical effects is very difficult. All I can say is that on balance I decided that it was worth it, and only time will tell if that was the right decision.
If you’re interested in more detail of the studies surrounding these issues check out this article; http://davidmarlin.co.uk/portfolio/equine-joint-supplements-what-scientific-evidence-is-thee-to-support-their-use/ I can only pass on the information I have gathered from my own literature searches so if there is anything further that I have overlooked please do let me know!
I woke to the restless stirring of my equine neighbours pacing their stalls and occasionally kicking our shared wall. Horses, eager for breakfast, sound a more charming wake-up call than the standard alarm clock wherever you are. My days that winter and spring, like so many before, were steeped in all things horse—sweat, hay, fresh air, manure—but this time, with an Austrian twist.
Nestled in a 200-year-old farmhouse in a small village outside of Vienna, I spent five months working as a groom and rider for a private eventing barn, a facility dedicated to dressage, jumping and cross-country. In addition to working with horses, this meant spending evenings at the local heuriger, hopping aboard public transit to spend days off in Vienna, and road-tripping in a tiny Fiat Panda through Slovakia and Hungary. Suddenly, the expensive and “impractical” hobby of my youth had become my ticket to see the world.
If you’re experienced in horse care or riding, there are many international opportunities to work in a variety of settings, from small private farms to large training facilities.
Why work with horses overseas?
Working with horses involves long hours and hard physical work. You will likely wake with the sun and fall into bed exhausted every night, and you may only get one day off per week. While many of these jobs will provide housing, they may not pay well. Living and working in a rural location can present a challenge when it comes to making short excursions on your days off and can leave you feeling isolated throughout your stay. So why would you ever want to pursue such a job?
For those of us who love horses and travel—and who struggle to choose between them—working abroad with horses is a unique opportunity to blend passions, offering fresh perspectives on life abroad and on the horse world... READ MORE
Former first lady of Massachusetts and dressage rider Ann Romney has been recognised for her passion for the sport – and overcoming obstacles in pursuit of her equestrian goals.
Romney, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, juggles her roles as a horsewoman, mother, grandmother, and avid philanthropist. She received the Piaffe Performance Adult Amateur Achievement Award at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida, accepting the award from Dr Cesar Parra, owner of Piaffe Performance.
Riding her new horse, Dalhems Diomedes, a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Belissimo M x Ferusa, Flemmingh), Romney won a Prix St. Georges class and was second in another in the national/amateur division of the 2017 Palm Beach Derby at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival. Romney is also an annual sponsor of the festival.
Romney said she didn’t think she would be taking Dalhems Diomedes into the show ring so soon, but they have bonded remarkably quickly. “It was only our second time down the centerline together. He is just doing so well and seems to be really comfortable with me,” she said.
“He is by Belissimo, and they are known for their really good brains, and he sure has one. He was the first horse I tried in Germany and I just fell in love with him.”
The story behind Romney’s path to the world of dressage is truly a remarkable one. After she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998, Romney became determined not to let her battle with the debilitating disease keep her from achieving her goals of becoming a rider. Despite considerable physical difficulty, Romney fought her way into the saddle day after day, and eventually found a renewed sense of peace and replenishment in riding.
Not surprisingly, working with horses continues to keep the disease at bay, and Romney maintains that working with horses was just the medicine she needed... READ MORE
This is for all those riders who have come back from a competition feeling disheartened and disappointed…
'Train like you’ve never won and compete like you’ve never lost’…I’ve seen this motivational phrase on multiple memes all across social media. For the competitive rider where the end goal is winning, I can see it works well. It’s punchy. It’s short, inspiring and memorable. But every time I see the phrase I can't help but ask, where is the fun?
Training like you’ve never won sounds like relentless hard work with little enjoyment or motivation other than to win. Yet everyone shares it, everyone loves it and everyone claims to be able to relate to it. Am I really the only one who’s looked at it and wondered, is that it? Is that all I’m supposed to aim for and have the mentality for? Winning?
Although I have been out and competed I didn’t buy my horse with the sole aim of competing to win. I bought my horse because I loved horses; everything else was just a bonus. I was taught to have fun, not to win. I was taught to give my horse respect and as a result trust and loyalty would follow. I love the challenge and anticipation of a competition and there is no denying that they are a motivating opportunity to learn and improve. I’ve won competitions and I’ve also come dead last. But there’s one clear differentiation between the two, I didn’t learn as much from winning as I did from losing.
Of course, winning feels good, it’s an adrenalin rush and an ego boost. Whilst the feeling of losing sucks. Ending up at the bottom is a horrible feeling; it makes you feel useless and question whether you should even bother. I’m not sure why it feels so bad, perhaps because after all your hard work training, not winning feels like not succeeding. Is to win, to also succeed? It’s an interesting thought. I think that partly yes, to win is to succeed. But there are so many forms of success and it's just a question of perspective. If you lose, you can also succeed. Instead of feeling disheartened and demotivated, try and focus on all the things that went right. At first, all you'll see are the negatives but try and find all the positive things that happened. And ask, did you both enjoy the moments competing together regardless of the result? Then, as for the negatives, it's only by failing that we learn to succeed. So open yourself up to learning more. If you never lost, how would you know how to become a better rider?
While 'training’ is important, it’s my opinion that it should be a way to create a bond with your horse and that partnership mustn't be just motivated by or judged by, winning. The smallest achievements can be the biggest successes and enjoyment should be the name of the game. So whilst ‘train like you’ve never won and compete like you’ve never lost’ may seem very appealing and appropriate, I go by something a little different;
“Greet your horse like you’ve always been apart and ride like you’ve never been separated…”
Female equestrians have the chance to help make a change to health outcomes for other riders by taking part in a survey, which will ultimately play a part in the design of a new equestrian sports bra.
The collaboration between US and British researchers is part of a new study aiming to gather information about attitudes to the barriers to riding for women and breast biomechanics. The goal is to build a wireless sensor system to allow further study “in the field” of female equestrians.
A survey is being conducted as part of a master’s thesis by Karin Pekarchik, from the University of Kentucky’s Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) and a graduate student in Community and Leadership Development. Her dissatisfaction with bras lacking sufficient support for a sitting trot led to her collaboration with British researchers who are studying breast biomechanics of the female equestrian.
I have a new job and it is definitely the one that I wanted to do for years.
Still, as we are acting like a start-up company, right now it takes a little more time than usual and combined with travelling, I lack a little bit of time for Hafl. And I feel miserable about it.
Conditions in the middle of snow melt do not allow for huge turnout sessions and so he keeps getting super bored when I cannot show up due to longer days at work or being somewhere else. It was some days ago, I felt that I had to do it all and I definitely didn't want to ask for help, but I realized that there are times where you simply have to ask for help. It is okay to say that you cannot make it. It is okay that you are busy doing other things. It is okay to let others help you in taking care of your horse. You will still feel miserable, you will still feel guilty, you will still feel like a bad horse mom.
After my trainer rode him...
But asking for help is definitely the way to go. So I summoned up all my courage and asked my trainer to ride him once when I am away and identified to more Haflsitters for lunging, walks in the park and hacking.
It feels strange to hand over responsibility in this way, and the lists and photos I sent them to tell them how life with Hafl works definitely top million dollar machine manuals, but I wanted to make sure that nothing can go wrong. But honestly, they are all horse people, they know how to handle a little Hafl. And they won't do him any harm and he will love to see some other people from time to time. With the right amount of carrots, he will definitely be convinced that I am not a bad horse mom. That I truly care and only want the best for him. And luckily, I have found the best Haflsitters that can be. I am so grateful that they immediately agreed on helping and after reading all the instructions carefully and calling me in case they are not sure along with sending hundreds of pics to emphasise that he is still alive, I am sure that this is a viable solution.
Thanks to my Haflsitters, Hafl and I are extremely thankful for your help!
Today, a little late night walkie talkie
And a nice after rolling selfie...
Re-published with kind permission from Dressage Hafl|Blog
Do you relate to this scenario? I'm sitting at home on a Sunday evening after a great weekend with my pony, feeling slightly disheartened that I've got to go back to work on Monday morning. So, what's the best way to cheer myself up? Sitting in front of the TV watching some mindless nonsense whilst scrolling through online tack shops on my laptop, of course!
This is the time when my inner shopaholic takes control and decides that her pony needs just about everything for sale on equine websites. “Another bridle…well it never hurts to have a spare (or five)” or alternatively “We don’t have that colour saddle pad…better be safe and get that too.” Before I know it my pony has been gifted a whole new wardrobe, whilst my own wardrobe looks drab by comparison. I would even go so far as to say that my pony, on occasion, has been better dressed than the likes of Kate Moss.
I’m not sure what it is about ‘horse stuff’ that just gets our equestrian hearts racing as we look for yet another item to dress our horse in. I certainly can’t criticise...if anything I am the pioneer for ridiculous online purchases for my pony. In fact the other week I bought a very nice pair of tendon and fetlock boots, the only thing is, I haven’t jumped in about 4-5 years…and have no plans to return to that discipline, but hey, you never know…right?
As a result, I have a horsebox and tack room crammed full of things for my pony, so much so I could probably open my own Tack Shop as a spur of the moment business venture. So that New Year Resolutions for saving money, well, when it comes to my horse…it's forgotten about. I don’t think I will ever be able to shake or resist the lure of buying things for my horse.
Perhaps the only solution is to make a resolution that I have to sell or re-home an item from my equine stash before I indulge the urge to buy something new. Although this would put myself into a ‘Mexican Standoff’ as I find throwing away items from my equine hoard just as hard as resisting the lure of purchasing yet another rug!
I have now come to the realization that my pony (who is now 20 years old) probably won’t be alive long enough to use her several hundred saddle pads, rugs and bridles! That’s when you know the perils of online shopping for ‘horse stuff’ has well and truly bitten you.
I would love to know about your spur of the moment equine retail therapy purchases or ‘guilty pleasure’ items that you can’t resist buying for your horse or pony.
Katy's novel, Forever Amber, is available to buy now. It is the true story about her mare, who she's owned for 10 years, who broke her leg followed by several life threatening illnesses. It was a huge journey... Amber is truly inspirational, she never stopped fighting.
An agreed percentage of the proceeds from each sale of both the e-book and printed edition is being donated to the British Horse Society in aid of protecting, expanding and maintaining bridle paths across the UK.
This show season is special. Usually, shows start in March or April, but this year we decided to start the season off at a winter show. And with winter we mean a winter we haven't seen for 30 years. It is freaking cold and it was windy as well close to Vienna (like almost all the time as there are no mountains). It was not a lot of snow but it was freezing at night giving the stable management a hard time trying to keep the water lines from freezing.
The show took place at Magna Racino, not only a racing circuit but also home to several hundred horses. Several hundred fixed stalls make it a very comfy show facility where you do not have to carry water buckets around or have to prevent rain dripping into your box.
Hardly any stable in Austria has two arenas which is the main reason we normally do not have shows in winter. But this facility has all in all 4! No wonder that world's number 16, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl decided to come, too. Soon I realised that we were going to compete against her as well as she, her brother, as well as some of her stable riders brought several horses and entered different classes. Pretty obviously, she won most of her classes and I was just happy to be able to see her in the warm up and ride next to her. Sometimes I could even hear her helping her riders in the warm up and seeing how they work. What a great experience.
Talking about our performance, we saw some improvement in overall suppleness and roundness. Of course, there were still too many mistakes but we could improve every day. Now we have almost two months before the next show to go and I really hope that we see higher temperatures such that we can go outside and train in the big arena as I realised that I need more test training now. Here are many many pics of this special show:
Pre-show tack cleaning madness
The indoor Thursday night after arrival
I would love to have a truck like this
Enough of space to go for walks
Hafl, again the horse with the most equipment
Ready to show
At least, it was warm in there
Late night ride on Friday, close to Midnight
Hafl doing some yoga stretches after his test while relaxing in his magnet therapy boots
Another view of the outdoor arena
Can I eat that?!
Well, that is a lot of paddocks
The food was good, too
One of the driveways
Dressage diva dream breakfast