Tuesday, 12 July 2016 14:56

Why I Love Summer Horse Shows

♥ I just LOVE Horse Shows especially during the summertime! ♥ The whole atmosphere gives me a high: the sound of horses cantering past, the commentary overhead, being surrounded by smiling people. Here are more reasons why I can't get enough of them...

The friendly atmosphere…

One of my favourite things about local horse shows is the way that they almost always turn into a social event! I'm bound to bump into familiar faces and meet friendly new ones, as there's a genuine feeling of a welcoming, community spirit at every one I have ever been to. Most people want to help and support each other; for example, I saw a little girl fall off her pony in a warm up ring, and was amazed by the number of people who rushed over to check she was okay! Whilst there is of course a competitive spirit, there is also a real sense of camaraderie.

There is something for everyone…

At many local horse shows, there is something for every horse and a feeling that everyone is welcome to just ‘give it a go’. Some shows have dog classes too, so if you don't have a horse to compete on your can have fun with your pooch instead! A friend said she went to a lovely show recently in Essex that even had a ring for horse and dog agility.

The Shopping!

Without a doubt, the highlight of the larger country shows and big events, such as Burghley, is the incredible shopping on offer.  With endless rows of trade stands to browse around, selling everything from art work to new saddles, some people don't even get time to see any of the competition! Let’s be honest, it is very difficult to come away from these shows empty handed! And what better way to de-stress after you have competed than a spot of shopping. Horses + shopping = a winning combination!

The Stunning Setting…

What I think makes horse shows so special is the beautiful scenery that usually surrounds them. Whether set in the spectacular grounds of a country house, or simply nestling in the valley of rolling hills, horse shows seem very much a part of the British countryside. If i'm feeling nervous before my class, just gazing at the stunning scenery around me whilst concentrating on taking slower and deeper breaths can really help me relax.

And last but not least…

The Burger Van!

I must admit, my number one favourite thing about horse shows is the food- even if at the local ones it's usually quite unhealthy. Well, I am exercising at the same time!  Whether it’s a burger, a pulled pork bap or an ice cream, I challenge anyone to come home from a horse show hungry. I frequently find choosing what to have far too difficult, and am embarrassed to admit to the number of times I’ve eaten more than one lunch as a result!

Do you agree? What do you love most about Summer Horse Shows?

Ellie Fells


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With now weeks in between the last and the next two shows, I woke up today and though to myself: wow, no horse show, no stress, no drama. Additionally, our best equipment manager is on a business trip across the pond - meaning: plenty of time! Time, that we would normally have when not going to shows all summer long while normal people do fun stuff. Here is a list that normal people could do during summer:

1. Sleeping in.

Yes, there is people who spend half their Sunday in bed or on the couch while we are driving hundreds of kilometers through the country in the hunt for a ribbon.

Okay, you can sleep at the show... there is plenty of time!

2. Going abroad for short/let alone longer trips.

Summer is the ideal season to go on fancy weekend trips - let alone a two week holiday. When we are not at a horse show, we do have some holidays, but most of the time horses are involved (like last year when we went to the European Championships in Aachen). And more than one week is pretty difficult as there might be another horse show. Have I told you yet that living in Carinthia, we are in driving distance from many beautiful places in Italy, Slovenia and Croatia?! DRIVING DISTANCE!

Hell yeah, we are on holiday...watching the European Championships!

3. Meeting with others at the lake for some drinks

Evenings are reserved for training as flies are too nasty and sun is too hot during the day. While others celebrate summer with cocktails and dancing, we put on some fly spray as we NEED to train before our next show.

At least, it is close to a river...

4. Having a beautiful, healthy summer tan.

We do have a tan. We are outside a lot, we see the sun a lot. But the sun does not see all the parts of our body. While training or showing, breeches make sure that our legs are whiter than the whitest pair of breeches and with our glove hands we are the real Mickey Mouse.

Tanning, next to the arena...

5. Enjoying a house and a garden.

How can you have a house and garden when you are away so many weekends? Would there even be enough time to water the flowers? To enjoy the pool? To relax in the hammock? As long as there are no pools or hammocks at horse shows, chances are low that you would find a show enthusiast there during summer.

My parent's garden is just being used as another training arena

6. Fruits, salads and other fresh summer food.

Meals at horse shows come in fatty, wishy-washy and far from fresh. Most of the weekends, even time for breakfast is limited as horses come first and it is not a problem to get up and feed at 7 and not having time for a proper bread roll and coffee breakfast. I haven't seen a show offering fresh and healthy fruits or salads have you?

Trying to eat healthy at a pre-barn picnic

When this is your place to be, a five star breakfast seems rather unlikely

7. Partying on Saturday's.

Living next to one of the most beautiful and exclusive lakes of Austria, hundreds of parties and events take place on Saturdays. Usually, I only "hear" them when laying on the couch with the windows open once there is a show free weekend. Watching the fireworks on my balcony and wondering how much people can party and being happy that I can go to bed early and do not have to get up at 6 to feed Hafl in his stable tent.

A show enthusiast's definition of party on a Saturday

8. Cruising around with your convertible/sports car.

No convertibles/sports cars/fancy cars for horse owners! Seriously, how should you haul a horse trailer with a car like that? Since I decided to become a horse show participant, choosing a car purely depends on maximum towing weight. Period.

Where would you be with your fancy convertible or sports car in THESE surroundings?

Dressage Hafl

Re-published with kind permission from Dressage Hafl|Blog


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Thursday, 30 June 2016 10:22

5 Assumptions made about Equestrian Life

For those of us in it,  the equestrian world is one of the most rewarding and exhilarating communities that you can involved in. But, unfortunately people on the outside can often make certain rather annoying assumptions- so here they are, the 5 most popular notions about equestrian life, debunked!

• “Horse-riding isn’t hard! You just sit there don’t you?”- How can you possibly understand how satisfyingly difficult that good horse-riding can be if you’ve never experienced it? When I’m faced with this assumption I have to stop myself from snapping back with a declarative list of everything I have ever experienced on horseback, the good, the thrills,  the spills, the exhausting and the terrifying. Good riding is an art, an never-ending journey that takes dedication to develop the requisite skill. And equestrian sports require a high level of fitness and a hell of a lot of hard work!  Horse-riding can be one of the toughest, physically and emotionally demanding sport there is, so when others assume “we just sit there”, it must be because we're making it 'look' easy- and that should be taken as a compliment!

• “It’s cruel, horses don’t like being ridden”- Horses have thrived by keeping themselves off the menu and becoming our partners and thank goodness for that as they are such amazing creatures!. As owners and riders our attitude makes all the difference to a horse's welfare and we should always strive to do the best we can. There are unfortunately those out there that treat horses as animals to be dominated and controlled, but there are also those who think they are being kind to their horses and are actually creating a different set of problems; horses that are insecure and bored. Every horse is different and that's why it is important to find the right equine partner for both us and them, and then learn to ride as well as we can for the good of their physical and mental well-being.  Horses are big, powerful animals and they certainly let us know if they don't want to do something, that's where knowledge and skill comes in, not force. And we all know horses who absolutely love to be in work, are lit up by competition or enjoy roaring around the countryside out hunting as much as their riders!

• “Horse-riding is for the rich!”- Yes, this sport can be an expensive one, but many of us have scrimped, saved and worked our hardest for just one riding lesson a week. We do this for the love of it, not prestige or glamour. Look carefully, and you will find many average earners with above average passions for the equestrian life. Mud, sweat, poo and constant horsehair everywhere! But we wouldn’t change it for the world.

• “Horses are stupid animals”- Often people who say this are actually frightened of them! Like all animals, it’s true that horses do not think in the same way that we do, especially as they are prey animals. This does not mean they aren’t clever though. The training that our equine friends undergo is proof of their potential for considerable intelligence and strength of memory. These big animals respond to the subtlest of signals, building strong relationships with their owners. Some even develop the ability to manipulate gate or stable latches or quick release knots and I'm sure they have a sense of humour- well they can judge our moods and signals much better than we can theres and act accordingly anyway!  Horses and humans have a different sort of intelligence and that is where commitment and dedication is required to achieve understanding. Let's face it, humans can be much more stupid than animals!

• “Horse-riding is a girlie sport”- yes, many girls have grown up besotted with horses; waking up extra early on a Saturday morning in bedrooms covered with rosettes and horse posters to go to their weekly riding lesson at their local yard. But Horse-riding is not only one of the toughest sports in the world but it also one which doesn't discriminate on the grounds of gender; everyone is equal in the equestrian world, because horse riding requires skill and a mental and physical toughness rather than brute strength and this should be something that we celebrate.

What  irritating comments have non-horsey people said to you about the equestrian world?

Megan McCusker


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