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 often mention keeping our horses minds healthy, happy and relaxed, but what about us? Most amateur riders are incredibly busy keeping home, work and horse going (scrap that, ALL riders are incredibly busy!). For those of you with children the job is made so much harder and the challenge is often just getting to ride once a week. There was a lot of information available around the new year regarding goal planning, but now a couple of months down the line I thought it might be a good time to consider how we keep our minds focused and healthy. Physical strength and health is vital but resilience and psychological well being are just as important, and in my opinion often over looked.
During my medical school years I suffered with anxiety, usually around exam times (which felt like it was most of the time), and I learnt to hide it from people. Only my nearest and dearest were often aware of how much the anxiety affected me, and it was when it started affecting my sleep that I really started to struggle. I am normally one of those infuriating people is asleep within ten seconds of their heads touching the pillow, but suddenly that was gone, and a sleepless night the day before a major exam resulted in a bit of a meltdown. I tackled the anxiety with horses (of course), and mindfulness meditation. Being able to clear your mind and draw your focus away from the whirling stresses in your head was what I needed to be able to control the anxiety. These days the anxiety is by no means gone, it rears its head every now and then, but it doesn’t surprise me anymore, and I know when it is getting out of control. The mindfulness techniques I used previously are very applicable when tackling dressage nerves or in fact nerves related to anything you do with your horse! I mention this because when I tell people about the struggle I have had with anxiety they seem surprised, and I think it is important to remember that sometimes everything is not as it seems on the outside.
When I look back over the goal planning I did in the new year, there’s a couple of things I perhaps should have considered.
• Recognise what you have already achieved
There is so much that we achieve on a daily basis, no matter how small, but generally we tend not to spend enough time acknowledging these achievements and instead we just carry on looking for the next thing.
• Don’t just consider competition results
Think about lessons learnt, physical skills you and your horse have gained, and how you managed when things didn’t go to plan. My new promise to myself is that I will find something positive in every training session, even when it feels like a disaster, and I will write it down. When I look back in a years time I will be able to track all the improvements we have made.
I love a good motivation quotation, so to finish here it is…
“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes but they don’t quit” – Conrad Hilton
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!
Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam FBW will be back at Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials this year to defend their title of 2016.
The Olympic gold medal champions, Jung and Sam have also confirmed that they will attend the Rolex 3DE in Kentucky in April - an attempt at the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing clearly on the way...
Meanwhile, riders from 12 nations have been named on the released list of 2017 Badminton entries with a strong contingent of riders from New Zealand in particular, Ireland and Australia including Chris Burton winner of Burghley Horse Trials in September 2016.
Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul, Badminton 2016.
The impressive line-up from Great Britain includes Gemma Tattersall with Arctic Soul who came 3rd in the event last year and is bound to be a strong contender. Other British riders in the mix include Oliver Townend, Pippa Funnell, Kitty King, Tina Cook and Laura Collett with debutantes Danni Dunn and Tom Jackson also in the mix.
Poplar Park is situated in Suffolk in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, and described as any equestrian enthusiast's dream location.
British Eventing's 'Poplar Park Horse Trials', were celebrating their 33rd anniversary on the weekend of the 11th & 12th March 2017 and will be again at a second event on 20th & 21st May 2017.
Here are a few of our photographer's favourite pics from Sunday 12th.
Pippa Funnell riding Billy The Biz
Bubby Upton riding Cola III
Zara Lye riding Jana De Cavaignac
Minna Erith riding Monza
See more pics from Poplar Park HT HERE
The Event Rider Masters (ERM) today confirmed its 2017 calendar, which will consist of seven legs, including expansion of the series from the UK into mainland Europe. Furthermore, with a total of £400,000 guaranteed to be awarded in prize money across the series, it establishes the ERM as the most valuable prize of its kind in the sport of Eventing.
The 2017 Event Rider Masters calendar is confirmed as:
• Leg 1 - Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials (UK) 13th – 14th May
• Leg 2 - Internationales Wiesbadener PfingstTurnier (Germany) 2nd – 3rd June
Last year the inaugural ERM featured six legs in the UK, in 2017 it will consist of seven legs and will extend its presence at two of Europe’s most prestigious equestrian competitions; Wiesbaden in Germany on 2nd - 3rd June, and Jardy in France on 15th - 16th July.
Last year Britain’s Oliver Townend made a big impact on the second half of the ERM riding Cillnabradden Evo, with the horse developing into a remarkable performer in the series. The pair were unbeatable at leg’s four and five and nearly secured a third consecutive win when finishing a close second in the sixth, crowning him with the first ERM title. Jonelle Price (NZ) finished in second and in third was Paul Tapner (AUS).
Oliver Townend, 2016 ERM series champion commented;
“The shortened format of the ERM produced very competitive performances from riders across all three phases last year. It is very exciting for us (riders) that ERM has an additional leg for 2017 and will be expanding into Europe. I expect this will up the level of competition again, which is great for the sport, spectators and ERM viewers. I hope to target a few different horses and I cannot wait to be part of the series again.”
With ERM expanding internationally, more of Eventing’s top riders are expected to take part in the series, particularly those based in mainland Europe. Ingrid Klimke, member of the German national Eventing team, five time Olympian and SAP Equestrian Ambassador commented on the expansion and the German leg at Wiesbaden;
“The Event Rider Masters is a new series and one I’m very excited about. It puts a modern spin on traditional Eventing, distilling what is historically a three-day event into two action packed days for the spectators, and will transport Equestrian to new places and new audiences”.
2016 Olympic individual silver and team gold medalist Astier Nicolas (FRA) commented:
“Even in its pilot year in 2016 the Event Rider Masters proved it was able to deliver World class sport. In the first leg France dominated the first three podium places with myself winning, and this form was franked in Rio when we won team gold. I am so excited that the series is expanding to France and Germany and I will be certain to target it”.
In 2017 the World’s leading event riders will be competing for the increased guaranteed ERM series prize money fund totalling £400,000, establishing the series as the most valuable in the sport of Eventing. Each ERM leg is worth £50,000, with an additional £50,000 series bonus.
“It’s a great achievement that the Event Rider Masters will now have two legs in mainland Europe. Our huge gratitude goes to everyone who has supported us in getting the series to this stage, this includes all the host competition venues, the national equestrian federations, riders, owners and the ERM team."
“It’s a very exciting time for the series and we hope for the sport of Eventing, and we cannot wait to get going with the first leg on the 13th May”.
Which fence design would you like to see at this year's Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials?
Back in December Badminton was delighted to invite eventing and design fans to enter the ‘Design the Final Fence’ competition, the first of its kind to be hosted by Badminton.
The three judges, Event Director Hugh Thomas, Media Director Julian Seaman and Cross Country Course Designer Eric Winter have now selected their favourite ten designs from all submissions and these ten have gone out to public vote from 15th – 28th February on the Badminton Horse Trials website.
“It was very difficult to get down to just 10 finalists, which were attractive, original, safe and affordable – the designs were all put before the judges anonymously and happily there was a huge measure of agreement on the top 10.” said Hugh Thomas.
“We should also mention that much as the quality of the drawings was impressive, the overall idea is more important than the illustration so bear that in mind when placing your vote!”
The most popular winning fence design will be announced on 1 March; it will then then be transformed into a fence by Olympic course builders, the Willis Bros, and will become the final fence on the 2017 course at Badminton which runs from Wednesday 3rd – Sunday 7th May with the cross country phase taking place on Saturday 6th.
International horse charity, World Horse Welfare, named first ever Charity of the Year for prestigious three-day event.
Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (31 August – 3 September 2017) are delighted to announce that they have chosen leading charity, World Horse Welfare, as their official Charity of the Year in 2017.
In a new move for the CCI four star competition - which is listed as one of the UK’s top ten sporting events and in 2016 attracted over 155,000 visitors - World Horse Welfare will be the event’s first ever official charity.
2016 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials winner, Chris Burton and Nobilis 18
Event Director of the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials Elizabeth Inman said:
“We are thrilled to introduce a charity partner to the horse trials and are looking forward to working with World Horse Welfare during the milestone of their 90th year.
“After a thorough selection process, we are confident that our chosen charity’s work helping horses in the UK and internationally - and their support for the responsible use of horses in sport – will chime well with our audience.”
World Horse Welfare Chief Executive, Roly Owers, said:
“It is a true honour to have been chosen as Land Rover Burghley’s charity of the year, which gives a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase our global work to such extensive and relevant audience of visitors from across the world.
“Land Rover Burghley is a world leading 4* Event, which chimes so well in this special year for World Horse Welfare as we celebrate our 90th anniversary.
“We cannot wait to start working on our partnership with the Event and on behalf of everyone at World Horse Welfare; I would like to express our sincere thanks to Liz Inman and her team for choosing us.”
The jumping phases proved to be especially influential at the 2017 $100,000 Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase. Poles in the show jumping and time penalties on the cross-county lead to a major leaderboard shakeup, but it was ultimately Boyd Martin who finished as the winner with Craig and Gloria Callen’s Welcome Shadow followed by Buck Davidson and Petite Flower in second and Doug Payne in third with Vandiver.
It was a heartbreaking end to the showcase for show jumping leader Marilyn Little, who had a fall with her first ride RF Demeter at the Ariat Corner (17) as “Demi” made contact with the fence on landing. The event released this statement regarding Little’s condition, “RF Demeter was uninjured. Marilyn was attended to by medical staff at the site of the fall. She did not lose consciousness. Marilyn walked without aid to a golf cart. She was transported out of the ring in a golf cart and was further evaluated by medical staff. Out of an abundance of caution and with facility protocol, Marilyn was transferred and transported through TraumaHawk to Delray Medical Center. She was conscious, coherent, and stable, and was released from the hospital this evening.”
Shortly after her fall she elected to withdraw her leading horse, RF Scandalous from cross-country, leaving the door wide open for Boyd Martin to pull off a hat trick, three consecutive competitions with three different horses, this time with “Shadow,” a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse.
Boyd Martin and Welcome Shadow. USEA/Shelby Allen Photo.
“This year was by far the hardest to win. It was a much more competitive field and the caliber of horses was the best we’ve ever seen here,” he said. “I’ve got to say the show jumping was bigger than Rolex. The cross-country was influential this year compared to other years when it wasn’t that influential. Hopefully it doesn’t get any harder because it’s the beginning of the year and we really had to press the horses to be competitive. It’s that fine line between seeing who the best is and not pushing it too far.”
He added only 0.8 time penalties, one of the fastest rounds of the day with the ex-foxhunter. “Welcome Shadow is one of my favorites, a failed foxhunter from the owner Craig Callen. This horse has come from left field being a foxhunter, but you wouldn’t get a horse that tries any harder than welcome Shadow,” Martin continued.
Shadow will get a light vacation before continuing her training and preparation for her second four-star appearance at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in April.
Buck Davidson and Petite Flower. USEA/Shelby Allen
Buck Davidson earned a 30.9 for a top-twenty spot after dressage with Caroline and Sherrie Martin’s Petite Flower, but he didn’t stop climbing until he reached the top three. One of only few double clear show jumping rounds moved him into 6th, and accurate riding on the cross-country had him ending the weekend reserve champion.
The 15-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Amber’s Lust x Tears of A Loss), who was bred by Buck’s father, Bruce Davidson Sr., was looking very keen at the start of her season.
“I was really happy with the mare. She couldn’t have been better this whole weekend. I was really happy with the dressage. She was great and tried her heart out in show jumping, and then she was as straight as she could be on cross-country. She’s a fun horse to ride around these kind of events,” Davidson commented. “Flower” is aimed to join Shadow at Kentucky this season.
Doug Payne and Vandiver. USEA/Shelby Allen Photo
Doug Payne had a determined look in his eye as he left the startbox with Vandiver. No one had been able to beat the time yet, but Payne made it happen shaving seconds off at every available opportunity. He and the 13-year-old Trakehner “Quinn,” who is also aimed at the Kentucky CCI4*, earned a respectable 30.2 on the flat, and pulled one unlucky rail in the show jumping to start he final phase in sixth place. Tight turns earned him the first double clear cross-country run of the day and a third place finish.
“I could’ve have been more happy with Quinn. He was very very good. I was disappointed [that] I had the very last jump down, but on cross-country he’s a bit of a dirt bike and we just kind of go out and cruise,” he said of his American-bred partner (Windfall x Visions of Grandeur). “Debi Crowley owns him with us a bred him. She still has his mother, so I think it’s really special for her.”
Cooley Cross Border and Kim Severson. USEA/Shelby Allen Photo.
Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by The Cross Syndicate, took their time around the track picking up 9.2 time penalties, but their sub-30 dressage performance (28) and double clear show jumping round gave them a fourth place finish.
In his first cross-country run on American soil since last spring, Fernhill By Night made it count with Liz Halliday-Sharp in the irons. The pair picked up 9.2 time penalties to finish fifth on a score of 37.7. Sixth and seventh-place finishers, Jennie Brannigan and William Fox-Pitt, had two identically quick rounds today both catching 3.2 time penalties. Brannigan looked very much at home with longtime partner Cambalda as he is returning from a competition hiatus, and Fox-Pitt galloped easily with his catch ride, Steady Eddie.
William Fox-Pitt and Steady Eddie. USEA/Shelby Allen Photo
See Full Results HERE
As equestrians, we must occassionally ask ourselves difficult questions, even if it means question methods of horse care and training used by top riders.
The bridle, first used over 600 years ago is still the predominant tool we use to direct and control our horses. So is it about time that we questioned this outdated and rather primitive method of control which applies pressure on the most sensitive parts of the horses’ head, lips, tongue, chin and poll? The Crank noseband in particular came under fire last year at the 2016 Olympics, as the horses competing in Dressage seemed severely constrained by the crushing tension of the bridle and there was a startling lack of the well regarded two finger gap beneath the noseband. Competitors in Olympic Dressage are penalised for any mouth-opening, and the extremely tight fit of the noseband prevents this. Essentially, equine discomfort at this level can be put down to a need for aesthetic perfection. And so high level Dressage becomes all about forced submission rather than a demonstration of harmony.
The Federation of Equestre internationale (FEI) asserts that “Any practices which could cause physical or mental suffering, in or out of competition, will not be tolerated”, but despite this sympathetic code of conduct, sadly, many competitors seem devoid of this consideration. It's all about looks rather than feel. An international study on the use of nosebands in equestrian sport was published in January this year, suggesting there is evidence that over half of the equine participants in the study were strapped into bridles with a 0% gap between the noseband and chin, and only 7% were given the desired two finger gap.
In Eventing, some might argue that when it comes to the most risky element, the cross country phase, that riders need to have the optimum level of control. It has been discovered that increased noseband tightness is directly related to an increase in bit pressure, so the tighter the noseband, the more likely it is that your horse will effectively respond to your hands. Because the horse is enduring so much pressure they have no choice but to submit to the riders will, and for some this is thought to be the safest option all round.
Yes, when the horse opens his mouth, gets his tongue over the bit and shifts the bit around his mouth it can reduce the rider’s level of control. By closing the mouth, you're shutting off his means of communication. What these so called 'evasions' are telling you is that the horse isn't balanced or the your hands and other aids aren't good enough.
It seems that riders are looking past issues of equine comfort and the need for better training. Instead horses are being forced into a choice-less submission because no-one can be bothered to put more years into training a horse well. When nosebands are used correctly, and the two finger rule is implemented, I don't personally think there is anything cruel in this equipment- although some people would argue for no nosebands at all. The limiting effects of the excessively tight noseband are only to the advantage of the lazy rider. There is little or no proof about whether or not there is any lasting physical or emotional damage caused by this apathy, but it is still unnecessary in my book. To all the high level competition riders out there that decide to cut corners with blatant disregard for their horse’s well-being, you should be ashamed of yourselves.
I would love to know what you guys think of this topic, it’s a sensitive one and I welcome some debate!
Catching our photographer's eye, always looking so smart, bright red and white (grey) - the unmistakable pair of Paul Tapner and his Event Horse, Kilronan.
Very sadly, Tapner Eventing Team announced the news that Kilronan was put to sleep at the end of last week. His health and soundness had rapidly deteriorated over the winter months from a condition affecting his spine and central nervous system.
He was a highly sensitive soul in the stables, however, this sensitive nature completely vanished when he launched out of a XC start box, transforming into an exceptionally talented and brave XC horse, with an ability to make it all seem easy and effortless during his partnership with Paul.
Fondly known as Tom, Kilronan was an extremely successful Event Horse with numerous wins at every single level of British Eventing , alongside numerous wins at FEI 2* and 3* levels. He completed Badminton CCI4* three times, Burghley CCI4* twice and represented Australia at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy 2014. His highest achievement at 4* level of 4th place was at Badminton in 2014. Tom amassed a huge 1160 British Eventing Points during his career. He had been retired from 4* level of competition during 2016 and it had been planned to campaign him at 2* level this year with young rider Ben Edwards .