Have you ever taken the time to think about what would happen if you were to have a bad fall when you were at a competition? In particular out on a cross country course falls can cause serious injuries and prompt effective help is something that you want, and you want it quickly.

When competing in unaffiliated events it is important to know what services will be available for you and your horse if you were to fall. As one of the most dangerous sports in the country, with a significant number of spinal injuries associated with riders falling, the first time you wonder if there is a doctor at an event might be when you desperately need them. British Eventing requires a doctor and a vet to attend all their events, and there are rules in place regarding when you are allowed to ride again following an injury. In contrast unaffiliated eventing will provide medical cover at the discretion of the organisers, which may mean that there is not a doctor or a vet present.

Depending on location a medical trauma team can usually attend an event relatively quickly, either by helicopter or by road. They can provide any urgent medical care and transfer the patient to the nearest appropriate hospital. That means that whilst they are making their way to the site of the accident, the first aiders or paramedics who were covering the event will be responsible for stabilising anyone injured. I certainly feel more comfortable when I leave the cross country start box at British Eventing events knowing there will be a doctor who will be with me in minutes if I have a fall and need their help.

I would recommend that every horse rider know some basic first aid, and what to do if someone falls and is significantly injured. Next week’s blog will cover some top tips for you to brush up on your first aid knowledge and key things to remember in an emergency. In the mean time check out what cover the events you enter have and make sure if you have any medical conditions or allergies that you wear an up to date medical armband.

Horse riding is a risky sport, keep yourself and your noble steed as safe as you can.
 
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
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The smallest changes can sometimes reap the biggest rewards. Getting stuck in a rut is frustrating, and when you are happy to put in the work and are just desperate for an improvement it can just get infuriating when it doesn’t happen.  All I can say is perseverance is worth it…

A recent breakthrough for me was a very slight adjustment in my position which was made by an instructor. I hadn’t appreciated that my weight was every so slightly heavier at the back of my seat, and as a result I wasn’t following Archie’s movements, I was blocking him. By altering this I was able to allow him to move freely behind and not give him confusing mixed messages of forward with the leg but back with the seat and hand. This was the epiphany I needed! And wow did it make a difference. I suddenly found my leg position was more effective, I was more secure, and more importantly Archie was more settled.

What I felt in the moments at home when I put everything together on my own and managed to re-create the feelings I had in the lesson was such a moment of relief. It can be hard work when you want to improve and get better but you feel that things have stagnated, both for you and the horse. Getting a new opinion, a different perspective and some alternative advice (from someone you trust), might just open that door which is being so stubborn. I won’t go through all the details of our lesson, as every rider is different and what worked for me won’t necessarily work for those reading this, but I urge you all to think outside the box and if things are feeling stale don’t stop searching for you own epiphany.


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
 
 
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Monday, 24 July 2017 10:23

It’s a Ball Game

There are certain issues affecting guys that us female riders tend to forget when we suggest that our long suffering other halves learn to ride. The Better Half decided recently that he wanted to improve his riding and so he took himself off for an week's intensive course with plenty of speed and jumping to keep him interested! Amazingly he was still walking by the end, albeit wide legged and hobbling. He's been moaning about a few things since then, in particular that of which boxers will provide the desired level of support, something which according to him has been insufficiently researched! Rather than me putting words in his mouth here's his take on the issue...
 

Learning to ride sounded like a great idea. You can go fast she said, you can learn to jump she said, and all that was true right up until the moment when I landed a 60cm cross pole onto my nutsac. Desperately trying to keep my cool despite the tears filling my eyes, I carried on cantering round the arena and completed the course with one stirrup, one rein and zero composure. It was at that moment that I decided that if I was going to carry on with this something had to change, or risk almost certain infertility.

So began an internet search for the best solution for my bruised balls. After reading hundreds of forums looking for products and ideas I found that there were simply NO male riders commenting on the subject. There was a huge amount of female speculation and recommendation, including absurd suggestions such as wearing tights and using adhesive tape to pull them out of the way! I didn't fancy a back, sack and crack wax and I thought that the wife might start to ask some interesting questions if she found me wearing her tights...

I had a long hard think, and decided that I needed plenty of padding, and decent support; enough to keep the bags in the baggage area. I hit up Amazon and ordered a variety of padded cycling shorts; some with foam, some with gel and all with impact protection. The next few trial runs were painfully unsuccessful and subsequently I've invested in sports boxers which hold the boys up and out the way. Now it may seem excessive but with three pairs of boxers on; one supportive, one really tight, and one with padding, the boys are finally safe.

I'm a fairly tough nut but it's been a rough road discovering the best boxer solution. I recommend you try the triple approach but its up to you, the balls in your court.


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
Tuesday, 18 July 2017 09:08

Sorting The Wheat From The Chaff

There are plenty of products on the equine market with rather impressive price tags which make very ambitious claims about the results they can achieve. Although I am hesitant to make generalised assumptions, one of my biggest concerns is how rarely there is published evidence available to back up the claims made by these products. As with everything in life there is an element of personal experience and positive reinforcement; if you used it for one horse and it worked, then you are likely to use it again. The question really comes when we start examining whether the interventions, feed supplements and products we use on our horses can produce repeatable and reliable effects time after time.

One example which got me thinking about these issues were the products that are available for rehabilitation of injuries through supposed manipulation of infrared radiation (IR). The theory is that the materials used reflect the horses natural radiation back onto itself and since IR is known to increase circulation it is therefore inferred that it is beneficial for healing muscular, tendon and ligamentous injuries. In sports medicine for humans IR lamps are  often used to treat sports injuries with plenty of evidence to back up their use so I do not deny therefore it may well be beneficial in aiding a horse’s recovery from injury,  but what I question is whether equipment which does not provide an external source of IR is able to do this. How replicable would results be if a study were to be undertaken? These issues are something I touched on in my previous blog In search of the truth about joint supplements, but since writing that piece I have seen endless areas of equine care which are not backed up with appropriate research and evidence.

The closing comment to these sorts of discussions is what harm can it do? A vital point, and one which I duly take note of, however if I am going to shell out over £200 on a rug I would like a little more than, “well it won’t do any harm”.

I often use products which have limited or no evidence for their use, both on myself and on Archie, and this blog is not here to say that I feel these products should not be used, I merely propose that we ask the question. Be inquisitive, question the status quo, and one day the equine world might start answering.

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
 
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Tuesday, 27 June 2017 12:02

Working at Liberty

When I first started learning about join-up and Monty Roberts’ techniques I never expected to find such rewards from working at liberty with horses. Initially I used join-up to build a relationship with Archie and to gain his confidence as in the early days he was nervous and unsure about a lot of things! Over the last year that has developed further and we are now having a go at liberty work. On days when we both fancy a bit of play and nothing too strenuous, mixing some loose schooling and liberty work can be really rewarding. It’s particularly good to help us reconnect as Archie is a champion sulker when I’ve been away on holiday.

The video (above) shows a little bit about what we have been doing at liberty, I have been very much just taking things as Archie offers them and playing around.

Learning to follow me came fairly quickly as part of effective join-up, and so the next step was teaching him to back up. It’s a useful skill to have in your toolbox for everyday situations, especially at dinner time when it stops Archie barging me out of the way to get to his feed!

Since Archie is inherently lazy and would love to spend all day in bed or chilling in the field teaching him to follow me in trot took a little while, and he still has a tendency to stand in the middle of the arena as I run around him like a lunatic. Something I’m sure he does purely for his own amusement.

When Archie has previously had physiotherapy we have noted that he is reluctant to cross his right hind leg underneath him on a circle, and so working at liberty has been a great chance to improve on his flexion. He has needed plenty of encouragement to get him flexing and moving over his right hind leg but it has finally started to make a difference. Something I was delighted to hear that Samantha Bardill our physio noted the last time she came out to see him.

If you have ever thought about liberty work but have been unsure where to start, I would highly recommend learning about join-up (there is masses of information online if you are new to it), and spending some time getting to know your horse without lines or reins. A round pen certainly makes this easier but you can do it in any space.

For me liberty work is about learning to communicate more effectively with Archie, and to put it simply, I believe that honest communication is the bedrock of any long-lasting and successful relationship.


 joae01As 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 
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Monday, 19 June 2017 13:49

Equestrian First Dates

Equestrians are a special bunch, but undeniably they have certain qualities which make them pretty epic on a first date. Assuming that is, that they don’t meet you for dinner in their jods, boots, whip in hand and with a faint whiff of horse in their wake. I promise you you’ll be impressed.

A key fact to remember is that they are used to controlling a 500kg animal with their thighs, so trust me, you, are no trouble at all. Not only that, they can compete and perform to a high level despite little sleep, as early morning competition starts often require. That means you’ll never see them hanging around outstaying their welcome in the morning as they will be up and off to the yard sharpish. Plenty of hours in the saddle and plenty more of yard work gets you toned and fit pretty quick. A necessary amount of exercise when you see the skin tight pale jodhpurs needed for competition, which are incredibly unforgiving no matter how slim you are! Equestrians have no choice but to squeeze themselves into them on a regular basis.

Equestrians are no stranger to managing difficult personalities, although they may be less patient with you than with the difficult pony on the yard. People generally come second to horses. Conversation however will never be a problem, as in the case of running out of something to talk about, once on the topic of their horses they can go for hours.  It might not be your cup of tea, but all that is required of you is to feign interest and make a few encouraging noises here and there.

Just something to take note of, before you launch in for a goodnight kiss, remember that  you will always and forever be second fiddle to their horses, your weekends will disappear into the black hole that is competition life, and spare cash becomes a thing of the past. You will however, be immensely happier for it! So if you’re brave enough to enter into a second date, get ready for a crash course into the equestrian world…!


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
Monday, 15 May 2017 10:42

Trust Is All You Need

Badminton horse trials this year was incredibly exciting to follow, with a truly challenging cross country course which made me sweat just watching at home on my sofa! Flying around our mini (by comparison) 90cm course at Eland Lodge on Sunday I was reminded as to why I am so passionate about our sport. Success at any level in eventing requires a partnership between you and your horse built on absolute trust. When you train together every day and experience successes and failures together, you develop a relationship which is something unique and beautiful. It is the trust that our horses place in us that allows us to achieve such feats within our sport.

Archie flew out of the start box last Sunday, but I felt him hesitate for that fraction of a second before the first few fences. Following our recent training session (A Balanced Approach) I was prepared for this and my leg and seat was there to catch, support and guide him meaning I was in a much better place to give him the confidence he needed. Sunday was the first time I have ridden around a cross country course clear and within the time, with the final result being that we were 8 seconds too fast! The course was kind, without too many tricky combinations or skinny fences, but plenty of steps and water combinations to get Archie’s brain in gear. It was a wonderful feeling to know that the recents months of training are finally starting to pay off, and a 6th place birthday frilly to take home didn’t hurt either!

I won’t deny that the more I do the more I want to do, and the more my dreams and aspirations grow. The exhilaration and adrenaline rush of riding cross country is addictive and the evenings after when I’m wallowing in “post-event blues” I find myself plotting our next training session and next outing. Archie and I are now over a year into our relationship and I can feel the difference in his interactions with me. There is a level of understanding and trust there which has taken time to build and grow, but which is vital to us being successful as a pair. Not only that, I am now trusting him too, and really, when you strip everything else away, trust is all you need.


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
Wednesday, 10 May 2017 11:56

Real Life Unicorns

Grey horses must be magical as they somehow always weasel their way into your heart, even when you are insistent that you want an easy-to-keep-clean bay horse. From my study of grey horse owners it seems to be that once you go grey you never go back, and so in order to survive a lifetime of grey horses it becomes necessary to learn the tricks of the trade early on.

Longstanding grey owners know all the best shampoos (human and horse), leg whiteners and chalks, plus all the weird things like putting ketchup on a stained tail (whoever tried that out the first time was braver than me!). They have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the different types of lycra hoods and they somehow always manage to turn their horses out absolutely spotless. My personal experience is that no matter what I do Archie is always yellow somewhere come the following morning and even the covered bits managed to get stained. It probably doesn’t help that he is incredibly lazy and will find the one and only spot of wet straw in his stable to sleep in. No matter how many layers and wraps you put on, when you’ve got a 5am start and you need to get on the road pronto you can guarantee the stains will be gigantic.

The summer show season is replaced in the winter by endless battle against the mud. This winter I gave up trying to groom the copious amounts off on a daily basis, and after two weeks of eating dinner at 10pm having got back from the yard so late I decided we needed a turnout hood. The Snuggy Hoods Boxing Day sale was an fantastic excuse to purchase probably be best bit of kit I have ever bought! He still manages to get mud underneath it, but now it takes 5 minutes to remove rather than 50.

My best tactics for keeping Archie vaguely clean involve; combing through and conditioning his tail daily and then plaiting up, a turnout hood in the field and show hood in the stable the night before an event, and a new trick of wearing waterproof turnout rugs in the stable to stop the wee getting through! Most importantly and often the hardest thing to do is not stress about it on a normal day and instead save that for the days that really matter. Despite the awkward and time consuming colour, they really are a gorgeous bunch. Let me know any of your top tips, they are always gratefully received!


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

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?!


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

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


about us

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
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