Fifteen horses from the Caisson Stables at Fort Myer in Virginia will have to brush up on their parade etiquette before participating in the 58th presidential inaugural parade of Donald Trump in Washington D.C. on Friday 20th January 2017.
IT IS an accolade guaranteed to get you on the highest of horses and bring a smile to even the longest face.
But a giant Shire horse who was saved from the knacker’s yard by his Scots owner has grown to become the biggest in the world.
Seven-year-old Lincoln has been recorded at just under 6ft 11ins, a measurement that sees him equal his rival, a Belgian draft called Big Jake.
Lincoln was saved by owner Ruth Blair and fruit and vegetable tycoon James Mackie, when Mrs Blair paid £450 in cash for him three years ago.
Robbyn makes sure Lincoln’s mane is tidied up as the gentle giant stands patiently enjoying the grooming. Sam Hardie
He now measures 6ft 10¾ins from the withers to the ground, without shoes, and is just under 21 hands.
In 2014 he measured just over 6ft 10ins but still had time to grow.
Now Lincoln’s growth spurt puts him at the top of the height charts for any horse in the UK and Europe and on an equal footing with Big Jake, who is kept on a farm in Michigan, America... READ MORE
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?
‹ Back to Home page
I know I'm not alone in having spent my childhood absolutely mad about ponies! I lived and breathed anything equine as a kid and pretty much still do today although I hope I don't look quite so crazy now -hmmm! When I was twelve, I was lucky enough to have my own pony to ride, but up until then, I would spend days on end imagining what it would be like to have a pony of my own. Here's a snapshot of my horse-obsessed younger self... does it sound familiar?
• Owning a vast collection of model ponies... All too often, my bedroom floor would be transformed into Hickstead or Badminton and my ever-growing collection of model ponies would be made to fly over little model jumps. Sometimes I would (much to my mum’s distress) bring in twigs and leaves from the garden to make into ‘cross country’ fences. I would also mark out miniature dressage arenas for my model ponies and make up dressage tests.
• Having an equally large collection of horsey story books… I have always loved reading and as a kid read pretty much every horsey book that had ever been written! A favourite of mine were Diana Kimpton’s The Pony Mad Princess books, especially as the Princess was, like me, called Ellie, which of course automatically meant I was a big fan! I would also avidly watch The Saddle Club on TV every Saturday morning – possibly the highlight of my weekend!
• Wearing my riding kit even when I wasn't going riding… I used to love getting new riding gear (nothing has changed there then!), and I remember spending hours wandering around the house, kitted out in my riding hat, body protector and boots. No pony, no problem, I would still enthusiastically canter around the living room. I would even refuse to take off my riding gear when we went out and would end up being dragged around the supermarket in a riding hat.
• Living for my Saturday Riding Lesson... As the week went on, I would get progressively more and more excited about my riding lesson on Saturday morning. I would always get ready far too early and sit by the front door, praying that we would leave early so I would be able to spend more time at the yard. Once I’d had my lesson, I would then spend the rest of the day chattering away about the pony I had ridden and how big a fence I had jumped – I must have bored my family to death! Every now and then during the school holidays I would also be able to take part in my stable’s ‘Own a Pony’ day, where we got to spend a day riding and grooming a pony of our choice. This was by far the most exciting day of the school holidays, and I used to spend all my pocket money buying special pony treats and brushes in preparation!
• Living the dream - Pony Club… Being lucky enough to go to Pony Club is the dream of any pony-mad kid, and fortunately later on I did get that golden ticket! Many of my best memories involve fiercely competitive gymkhanas (which were always so much more difficult than I expected), clinging on for dear life during show jumping rounds, and of course a week of pony heaven- camp! A summer of rallies and shows also meant mastering the art of eating an ice cream whilst sitting on my pony, desperately trying to avoid spilling it all down my pristine white shirt and cream jodhpurs!
What is for sure is that horses and ponies have left me with countless, happy childhood memories, for which I am hugely grateful!
So, were you as horse mad as me? Or worse? Go on, confess all!
‹ Back to Home page
Congratulations to Michael Jung (GER) riding La Biosthetique – Sam FBW on winning The Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials 2016! He led the competition from the front and also claims the Rolex Grand Slam.
Info: Badminton Horse Trials is one of the toughest and most exciting equestrian events – the pinnacle of the world’s 3-Day-Event calendar.
It was the 10th Duke of Beaufort whose idea it was to hold an event in his Gloucestershire park in order that British riders could train for future international events. The first event was held in 1949. When Golden Willow won the first Badminton competition, there were 22 starters from two countries, Britain and Ireland. Since then Great Britain has won 3 team golds and 2 individual gold medals in the Olympics; 6 team golds and 5 individual gold medals in the World Championships, and no fewer than 21 team golds and 18 individual gold medals in the European Championships.
Final Results in full HERE
‹ Back to Home page
Yes, we love them, but let's admit it, there are times when horses just drive us crazy! Here are a few of the cheeky ways in which my four-legged friends manage to wind me up... well, I am only human, after all!
• Deciding they’re in charge the moment we enter a show ring… Sadly, I have an endless list of the number of times that this has happened to me. Generally, throughout the warm up all is going well: they’re listening to my aids, popping over practice fences and working perfectly on the bit as if they’re Valegro. However, as soon as we enter the ring, all this flies completely out the window, and they act as if they've never, ever, in their life seen a show jump filler or heard a judge sound their car horn before. For some reason, the moment they set a centimetre of a hoof inside that ring, they turn into one of Thelwell's Shetland Ponies… and I’m sure they all swap tips with each other, because once one starts being naughty in the ring, the others join in too…
• Knocking over a full water bucket… A trick that all my horses have mastered to a tee. And it is always a FULL bucket, never an empty one. And it's always when I'm in a rush. Yes, that morning has to be the morning when they decide to turn their stable into a paddling pool, and even better, if it’s one that I've literally just finished mucking out.
• Pulling rugs off their stable door… For some reason, my horses find it hilariously funny to pull rugs, saddle cloths, or my jacket off their stable door or fence, even if I've only placed it there for a few seconds. And if I'm not quick enough, just for good measure they like to stand on it too! Well you'd think I'd learn but let's face it, horses are much easier to train than humans are.
• Slobbering all over me… Whilst I like to think this is a sign of affection, horses seem to have a nasty habit of slobbering or clearing their nostrils all over me on that ONE day I decide to wear my non-horsey clothes to the yard. Worst of all is when I don’t even notice that they’ve done it, until unfortunately I'm at the place I got all dressed up for…NOT the best look.
• Rolling in mud right after a bath… Dare I say it, the most annoying habit of all. This seems to be something universal to any horse or pony I have ever met – the moment they are allowed back in their field after a bath, they actually go out of their way to find the muddiest patch available and roll in it. Then when they get back up they always turn to look at me as if to say, “ha ha ha,loser!”. Maybe I should try rolling around in the mud right after a shower - I could be missing something!
Does your horse have any cheeky habits that drive you round the bend?
‹ Back to Home page
A loss of confidence is something that happens to many riders. Sometimes, it's just a niggling doubt about doing a bigger jump or a harder dressage test, or like me, you can lose it in a major way!
I always used to consider myself to be quite a confident rider and used to love being put on the naughtier ponies at my old riding school. I'd had my fair share of falls, but nothing really phased me. However, in the summer of 2014 I had a fall that I was worried would change me as a rider forever.
I had been lucky enough to have the opportunity to ride the lovely Scampi, a 16.2hh thoroughbred who was absolutely stunning and seriously talented at dressage. However, he was inexperienced, and I just didn't have the experience to give him the education that he needed either. A few weeks after I had first started riding him, I took him cross country schooling. I was feeling pretty confident, and was keen to see how we would both get on. We flew over the first couple of practice fences and it seemed to be going to plan. However, as I was coming up to a slightly larger fence but nothing too complicated, Scampi saw something in the hedge-line, which combined with my lack of experience meant we took off for the jump miles too early. I went flying, and narrowly avoided being trampled as he bolted off into the distance.
Although I remember very little of the fall itself, or even the morning before (which was very annoying as it was my Biology A level exam the next week and I had just done a lot of revision earlier that day, which I went on to forget…), both Scampi and I stayed in one piece. I got checked out in hospital, fortunately escaping with just bad bruising and slight concussion. I count myself very lucky, and it reminded me just how incredibly important wearing appropriate safety gear is; when I took my hat off it completely disintegrated, showing just how powerful the impact of my fall had been!
The day after the fall, all I could think about was getting back on Scampi; I was so worried that if I didn’t, I would lose my confidence completely. A couple of days later I rode him around the school at home, still feeling very bruised and fragile but it did feel good to be back on board. However, in the following weeks I found myself feeling physically sick just at the thought of riding. I found I didn’t want to jump, didn’t want to enter any competitions – my attitude towards riding had changed completely, and for weeks when I first sat on a horse all I wanted to do was get off again.
I think my problem was that I expected my confidence to come back straight away. I didn’t realise that it would be a slow process and that I would have to take my time, step by step. I wasn’t going to be able to go straight back to how I had been before the fall, but instead I needed to go back to basics and build it up again slowly, just as I would with a horse that had lost it's confidence. Although the fall itself wasn’t that bad, it was certainly the worst that I had ever had, and I think it must have had a much greater impact on me than I originally thought.
Slowly, I started to ride my own horse again; even riding him I felt nervous initially, but after lots of gentle hacking, I began to remember what I loved so much about riding, and that it didn’t need to be something scary at all. I realised that regaining confidence after a fall wasn’t simply a case of ‘getting back on again’; it meant changing my whole way of thinking, and learning to trust in both my horse and my own abilities as a rider. I think it was only once I had realised and accepted this that I was truly able to begin to move forwards.
Although it was indeed a slow process, I am at last finding my old self returning. We have recently started schooling our ex-racehorse, Alfie, and all I want to do is get out there competing with him, a feeling which I can’t imagine myself having had this time last year. Joining the University Riding Team at York has also given my confidence a huge boost, with the competitions that I have taken part in reminding me of just what it is that I used to love so much about competing. Sometimes, all it took was for someone to tell me I was doing okay, and suddenly I would find myself feeling so much better, which is a reminder how important it is to surround yourself with the right people at times like this!
So nearly two years on, I feel that my confidence has almost fully returned. What my fall certainly taught me was that these things take time; I didn’t realise how slow a process regaining confidence really can be, and that it isn’t simply a case of putting on a brave face. After all, horses can be scary animals! But they can also be the most wonderful friends, and riding my horse and going out to competitions has once again become one of the things that makes me smile the most.
Do you have a similar story to share because I'd love to hear it, whether you've regained your confidence or are still struggling with it. It always helps to know you're not alone!
MORE... 'LIKE' what you see and check out our HOME page!
Commonly we talk about ‘working’ our horses and getting them fit for our discipline, whatever that may be. We spend hours and invest lots of money in training our horses to use their muscles correctly and perform at their best. Having said that, not all riders consider their own physical fitness and how it can enhance their riding performance. Many people assume that because riding itself is physical exercise, keeps us fit and burns around 300 calories a session, we don’t need to do other forms of exercise. Fortunately, equine scientists have found a link between rider fitness and improved riding, raising awareness of the issue. Rider fitness is paramount when taking to the saddle, and we owe it to our horses to stay in the best shape we reasonably can. So, why is it so important?
Let’s see it from the horse’s perspective. An eleven stone (70kg) rider, on a 550kg horse represents 13% of that horse’s bodyweight. If that same rider were to go for a run with a rucksack weighing 13% of their bodyweight, they would be carrying 1.4 stone (9kg). It wouldn’t take very long for the individual to tire. If the weight in the rucksack were slightly off-centre (as most riders’ weight is), the individual’s back could become quite sore very quickly. Using this analogy to empathise with the horse, we can see that to benefit the horse and improve performance, riders should control their weight and improve their straightness by a mixture of cardiovascular activities (eg running, swimming), and Pilates. These exercises will also increase endurance and stamina.
Horse riding works a number of muscles including abdominal muscles, hip flexors, adductors (thigh) and calves. These muscles are not necessarily used in every-day life and therefore need to be trained separately, to keep strong and effective throughout a riding session. Riding is a very demanding sport, and as the rider becomes tired, their aids are less clear because it is more difficult to move the arms and legs independently of the seat. A rider with good stamina will be able to bring out the best in their horses, either in the dressage arena or cross country. Stamina is especially important in the cross country phase to ensure safety of the horse and rider, because the rider needs to be fit enough to remain focused on the horse and the fences, rather than working hard to simply remain up out of the saddle.
A good rider is a well-balanced rider. The rider’s centre of gravity should be directly over the horse’s to allow the aids (seat, leg, hand) to be independent of each other. Apart from the effect on performance, good balance is important, so that if the horse spooks, or misses a stride at a jump, the rider can maintain their balance with the horse, and avoid an accident. Balance exercises used in both yoga and Pilates can help improve the balance, as well as mounted exercises on the horse.
Whilst strength and stamina are very important to keep the rider upright and effective in the saddle, flexibility is of equal importance to maintain balanced and effective. The musculature in the hips and pelvis needs to be supple to absorb the horse’s movement. In order for the lower legs to be long, loose and wrapped around the horse’s sides, the muscles of the hips, inner thighs and calves need to be loose and flexible. Again, these muscles don’t naturally get worked this way in everyday life and so need some help outside of your riding time.
How do you keep fit for riding? What are the best exercises you have found? Please share with others in the comments.
Lucy Field-Richards : Lucy owns Ride Fit Equestrian, and is from Nottinghamshire.
Qualifications : First class BSc (Hons) Equine Sports Science (Equestrian Psychology), BHSAI, Diploma in Equine Sports Massage Therapy
Lucy is a lecturer in Equine Science at Nottingham Trent University.
Am I the only rider guilty of always talking about the weather, and often moaning about it too? In the winter it's too cold and in the summer it's just too damned hot!
For most equestrians, changes in season certainly have a big impact on our day to day lives don't they. Winter months see us battling with mud, lack of turnout, places to ride and spook inducing high winds. Whilst in the summer we both get sweaty, dehydrated, sunburnt and covered in flies!
However, apart from a few grumbles I think there are lots of positives about all four seasons, proving that riding really can be a year round sport...
Spring forward... Personally, spring is my favourite season. The days start getting longer, so more hours for riding-yeah! Our horses get to throw off their rugs, if they wear them, and we can shed our jackets. That first day when I can ride in a t-shirt is heaven. The only down-side is I end up covered in more hair than my horse when grooming. As the ground starts to dry up, there are more places where we can ride and hacks are filled with the uplifting sight of primroses along the verges, bluebells in the woods and baby lambs cavorting in the fields. Spring also marks the start of the much anticipated eventing season, so for those of us into eventing the months of training can finally be put into practice and we can go and watch the thrills and spills of the big events!
Competitions in summer... Once summer comes our weekends fill up with local shows and competitions, plus the eventing season is in full swing by this stage. For Pony Club members, there are rallies and of course, camp, the highlight of many young riders’ calendars. I know that my childhood is filled with happy summer memories of sharing ice cream with my horse at shows, and being thrown in the river at Pony Club Camp! The lovely long days in the summer also mean that riding is possible after work and school and at last you seem able to RELAX! There just seems to be more time to do the fun things, like long hacks with friends, ridden pub crawls and boxing up and travelling to new places to ride. And one of the things I love about summer is just sitting with my horse whilst he dozes in the sunshine-bliss.
Beautiful scenery in autumn... Although many of us are sad to see summer come to an end, the autumn months are great for hacking. It's got slightly cooler and the scenery can be stunning as the leaves change colour. It is also in the autumn that the hunting season kick offs at the gentler pace of Autumn Hunting. These usually start very early in the morning-groan- but it's really worth the effort. To be on a horse with others in the open countryside on a beautiful autumn morning, when the light and atmosphere can be particularly special, is something worth getting up early for, I promise.
Indoor dressage and show jumping in winter... Yes, I know, winter can be a tough one to feel positive about. The days are shorter and farmers don't want us churning up their ground so we often end up just hacking on the roads. However, on the plus side, hunting is at full tilt, which does give us access to open fields and it makes galloping through the rain and mud, fun! Also, these winter months are a valuable time of preparation for the following year. There are a lot of indoor dressage and show jumping competitions around, and for Pony Club Members, there's the Dengie Winter League. I think winter is also a great time for going to lecture demos, maybe learning a new skill like equine massage, and of course it's a good time to get down to some serious personal fitness.
Whatever the weather, keep on riding and having fun!
So, what's your favourite season?
William Fox-Pitt enjoyed a round of applause from spectators delighting in seeing him back in the competition saddle after his first showjumping round at Burnham Market International Horse Trials last weekend. The Open Intermediate class was his first event since being seriously injured in a cross country fall in France at the end of last season.
William and Parklane Hawk
It was a beautiful day and the conditions were perfect.
“It was great to be out again at my first event of the season. I decided to just ride two horses rather than four, to be sensible with the hope of being able to do them justice. Happily both went really well,” Fox-Pitt said.
He opted to ride his experienced horses, Cool Mountain and Parklane Hawk.
“They are both old pros and literally carried me round – I only had to hold on,” he said. Always planning to take both horses steadily across country, he enjoyed two confident clear rounds. “It’s a great relief to finish in one piece and feeling good.”
Also returning to competition this season, at his second event since returning from a career-threatening neck injury was leading New Zealand eventer, Andrew Nicholson. He tasted victory at a lower-tier competition in Somerset two weeks ago, seven months after undergoing surgery to stabilise his spine following a fall during a three-start event in Gatcombe.
Andrew Nicholson and Swallow Springs
Great to see these two talented keen rivals back in the competition saddle!
See full results for the Burnham Market International Open Intermediate Section M HERE
View Trot On's Photo album BURNHAM MARKET INTERNATIONAL APRIL 2016
MORE... 'LIKE' what you see and check out our HOME page!