I’m sure I’m not alone in being someone who talks about horses all the time – my poor friends must be sick to death of hearing about how my riding lessons have gone, how much I miss my horses when I’m at university or all the shows I plan to do over summer. However, in all my wittering on about horses, I often forget that there are some totally bizarre expressions used in the horsey world which can cause utter confusion to the unknowing ear…

Here are my top five horsey expressions which I’ve found make no sense to those outside the equestrian world…

“He’s a green horse” – Last week, I was talking to a friend about a new horse who had arrived at our stables, and without thinking, I described him as being ‘green’. This was met by a complete look of bemusement as my friend announced that she didn’t know you could get ‘green horses’. No, I didn’t mean the horse was literally green in colour, with the term ‘green’ simply being applied to a young or inexperienced horse. But her confusion was definitely understandable!

“On the bit” – Describing a horse as being ‘on the bit’ is an expression thrown around by equestrians all the time, which we all know means a horse working correctly in an ‘outline’. (Although, some may argue that many equestrians don't really understand the true meaning of these terms, but I'll leave that to someone else to write about!) However, to the unknowing ear this sounds rather odd – conjuring up images of a horse standing on a bit! Even the term ‘bit’ is understandably confusing – it’s a strange word to describe something that goes in the horse’s mouth!

“She’s Grey” – Ahhh, the classic question! So many times I have described a horse as ‘grey’ with someone then observing, “But it's white isn't it?”, which is, of course, a very valid question. Why are horses with a white coat, called grey?! There are true white horses born with a white coat and pink skin, but these are rare, whilst most 'grey' horses have black skin and a grey coat (a mix of black and white hair) that usually fades to overall white as the horse gets older. Although on most days it also appears mud brown!

“We’re going on a hack” – Although we use this term all the time, the term ‘hack’ doesn’t obviously suggest a ride in the countryside. If anything, it sounds rather violent! I dragged one of my poor housemates to a Riding Social at University and he was horrified to hear people chatting about ‘hacks’…he had no idea what was going on!

“Cold Backed” – Well, it's easy to see why most people would think that a cold backed horse has been standing in a draft and just needs wrapping up in a lovely warm rug! Of course as riders we know that it refers to a horse that experiences discomfort when the saddle is first put on and is something that we too can become painfully aware of, if we don't read the signs!

What other strange horsey expressions have you used which have made no sense to non-horsey friends?

Published in Trot On Blogs

Spending time with horses lifts the spirits and teaches trust. More people, not fewer, should be able to ride

There are plans in place to tax horses out of British life. Proposed adjustments in business rates for non–residential properties — increases of up to eight times — could make vast swaths of the horsey world unviable. Life will be tough for top-end enterprises like racing yards and stud farms; it will be the end for the many riding schools and livery yards that exist on the far edge of the possible.

This is a disastrous way to carry on. The horsey life should have vast and sweeping tax exemption because it helps people to enjoy life more fully and to endure it more steadfastly. It keeps the blues away more efficiently than anything out of a bottle.

Horses are great teachers. Children who spend time around horses learn many important things. They learn that you never get love on your own terms; they learn that the pursuit of mastery is destructive to both parties. Above all they learn that understanding, forgiveness and calmness get better results than roaring and punishment... READ MORE
See Simon Barnes talking to Trot On HERE
Published in Articles
Monday, 09 January 2017 09:58

Every time I see a Horse for Sale…

I’m no stranger to the lure of ‘equine online dating.’ I often sit down at the kitchen table with a glass of wine and some chocolate to spend the evening searching through every 'horse for sale' ad that I can lay my eyes on. I will scroll through image after image of every breed of horse under the sun and can spend hours at a time reading and re-reading their profiles to see if they have the right credentials to become my perfect partner. Could this relationship work? Does it have the potential to be long term? Would this new arrival get on with my other horses?

I am 100% guilty of buying into the dream of a horse and not facing the reality as I try to convince my inner sane voice that this is sooo the right choice for me! A 17hh, 3* eventer? No problem! I haven’t even jumped a x-country fence since 2010 but it’s like learning to ride a bike, right? It just comes straight back to you. Or, “wow, there’s a dressage horse here that’s been to Nationals and won!” I’ve never ridden a dressage test in my life but I’m pretty sure I could do it…eventually. The simple matter of the fact is that I would probably be better suited to the slightly less talented, rather plain, rotund pony in the corner, compared to these flashy advanced competition horses, shouting, 'look at me!' But I'm allowed to dream, right?

I’ve always found reading horse for sale ad’s interesting. The terminology seller’s use is always slightly intriguing and often crosses the line into amusing fantasy fiction. “He’s a fantastic horse, really talented and scope to burn.” What some people then fail to do is read the small print,  “Of course we’ve been lacking time so he hasn’t been ridden in a couple of weeks.” What they really mean is we’re all too scared as hell to ride him and we’re sure it’s got scope because we’ve been watching it jump the fences in the field to escape for the past few years!

I’ve never had too many disasters when turning up to try a horse…so there aren’t too many funny stories there. If anything, on the odd occasion that I would allow myself to think that I was the prodigy of either Charlotte Dujardin or William Fox-Pitt (depending on where the wind took me), I was more of a disappointment than the horse. My biggest tip would be, no matter how experienced you are as a horse owner, everyone needs a reality check when viewing a potential horse to buy, especially if you’re a bit of a dreamer like me. And definitely get good at decoding the 'horse for sale' ads!

Have you got any interesting tales of 'horse for sale' ads and how to spot truth from fiction?

Katy Dixon

foreveramberKaty'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.

Published in Trot On Blogs

We’ve heard reports from a number of horse owners that colic levels have risen recently with many blaming this on the large amounts of rain we’ve had.

Is the large amount of raining causing colic?

We’ve conducted some research into this ourselves and here are our findings:

• Whilst there appears to be no evidence that links excessive rain with colic, temperature changes and the winter weather cause horses to change their routine and eating habits.  Also temperature changes can effect the sugar levels in grass which can effect the gut.  These changes can then lead to colic.

• Winter is a time where colic can increase. The main reasons for this are: changes to the horses diet, water that’s too cold, and reduced movement/exercise time.

• The subject of water consumption appears to be a significant factor.  It’s essential that horses have access to water 24/7 and that the temperature of the water is not too cold. If water temperature is below 7 degrees, a horse will tend to consume less water.  This can then lead to decreasing water and lubrication in the gut, increasing the chance of impaction-induced colic.

• “Stress caused due to the rain” does also appear a factor which can lead to colic.

Tips to reduce the changes of colic in colder months:

• Give horses 24/7 access to water that is at a temperature between 7 – 18 degrees if possible and add more water to hard feeds if possible.

• Keep an eye on the weather. If sudden drops in temperature look likely, manage your horses appropriately i.e. put a rug on them, or bring them in. Equally if temps go up make sure they're not over-heating in too many rugs, as this can lead to dehydration.

• Be aware of how temperature is affecting your pasture. Frosted grass or grass under snow pushes out a lot more sugars. Also, because of unseasonably warm weather we've had in much of the UK the grass has been flushing. It's not only horses prone to laminitis that need to be careful either, as sugars effect the balance of bacteria in the gut.

• Ensure there is access to good shelter.

• Give your horses plenty of good quality roughage. Standing for long periods in the stable without food isn't good for them as horses are trickle feeders and their digestive systems are adapted to be digesting constantly. Hay is also an effective heating fuel.

• Make sure your horses teeth are checked regularly.

• Think about adding a gut balancer which contains pre and pro-biotics to your horses feed as anything that stresses the horse, including changes to management and diet, can change the bacteria population in the horse's gut leading to colic.

• Avoiding long periods in the stable and ensuring that your horse is getting plenty of exercise will help the digestive system stay healthy.


From our research we can't find any evidence to prove that increased rainfall is causing more colic. However, winter weather often changes how we manage our horses and causes them to change eating and drinking habits and this can therefore promote colic. Changes in temperature can also change sugar levels in the grass - so that is something definitely worth monitoring.

Be savvy, keep a close eye on them for any changes in behaviour and ensure your horse has a good water supply, gets enough quality roughage and has plenty of exercise during the winter months.

Abi Rule


MORE... 'LIKE' what you see and check out our HOME page!



Published in Trot On Blogs

We've all been in situations with horses where our nerves have got the better of us, whether it's the after-shock of a bad fall, or simply because we're afraid to move our riding up a level by doing a bigger jump or a harder dressage test. These nerves can undoubtedly be tricky things to overcome, and it can sometimes take years to truly regain confidence after a bad experience; after all, horses are BIG animals, and although we all love them to bits, they can at times be a little bit scary to even the most experienced of riders.

Unfortunately, one fact that is drummed into us from the start is that as a rider, our nerves are quickly and easily transferred to our horse, and a nervous rider almost certainly equals a nervous horse. Helpful, hey?!

But the good news is that we can tackle these nerves, improve our riding and help our horse at the same time. Here are five really useful tips for the New Year that I have been given over the years, and have really helped me to calm those dreaded butterflies! Although some may seem simple, they're definitely effective.

1. BREATHE!: As silly as it sounds, when riders get nervous, breathing is something that they forget to do, - it becomes all too easy to find yourself holding your breath or breathing shallowly as you go round a cross country course or ride a dressage test. This will quickly make you stiff and tense, which will only make your horse tense too. I know that I am certainly guilty of forgetting to breathe, and have nearly passed out at the end of cross country courses, bright red in the face! So, when you're nervous, the first thing you need to do is focus on taking slow, deep breathes in, and out. You can even start on the ground before you get onto your horse. Focus on breathing right down into your abdomen, and sense your stomach, ribs and back of your shoulders expanding as you breathe in. Some people find it helps to count as they breathe, for instance four counts for an in-breath and five counts for an out-breath; find a rhythm that works for you. This will not only help you to relax, but is bound to make your horse relax with you.

2. Talk to your family and friends: Another tip that I have found hugely useful is to simply talk to people. When you’re nervous, it is easy to bottle things up rather than admit to how you feel, hoping the nerves will simply go away. Unfortunately, they often get worse! If you’re worried about doing a bigger jump or riding a difficult horse, talk to people about it and you'll be rewarded with useful advice and words of encouragement, which will no doubt help you to feel better.

Also. when people are nervous they often become quiet too, so take your mind off what you're nervous about and talk to people about something completely unrelated, such as what you watched on TV last night. Simply chatting like this will help you to feel calmer and more relaxed, and can help you to take your mind off whatever is bothering you.

3. Talk to your horse: Talking to your horse is also a great way of helping to calm those dreaded nerves. If I was worried about a competition or lesson with my horse, I always found it so useful to just chatter away to him beforehand, telling him what was wrong and what we were about to do, and I’m sure he understood me every time, even if anyone else listening in probably thought I was mad!  Also, talking to your horse whilst you are riding him or her is another great way to help you both relax. Horses clearly respond to the voice of their rider, and it helps to reassure them, as well as you, that everything will be okay.

4. Sing your favourite song in your head: Although this may risk making me sound completely mad, singing in your head may be the perfect way to help to battle your nerves. If there is a song that makes you smile, then simply sing it to yourself and if no one is around then why not sing it out loud! You'll find that it helps to take your mind off what's worrying you, whilst also helping you to breathe, relax, and ultimately to enjoy yourself! Which brings me to my final tip...

5. SMILE!: My personal favourite – simply smile as much as you possibly can! A smile can make everything so much better, helping to release feel-good hormones that will lift your whole mood, something which will undoubtedly be transferred to your horse. If you sit there looking miserable, your horse is bound to feel miserable too, but if you smile, your horse will smile with you!

So, if you are someone who finds their nerves can sometimes be overwhelming, I hope that at least one of these tips will make your New Year a more confident one.

Good luck to you all with your riding in 2016 – let me know how you all get on and if you've got any other confidence tricks please share them below. Happy Riding!

Ellie Fells


MORE... 'LIKE' what you see and check out our HOME page!



Published in Trot On Blogs
Saturday, 29 August 2015 18:07

What do horses' eye wrinkles tell us?

Some horse owners like myself, believe that wrinkles around a horse's eyes can indicate physical or mental discomfort. I mean, I know if I've been suffering with backache for days or something has been really worrying me, when I look in the mirror I can see tension in my face, especially around my eyes and forehead. But when I link wrinkles around a horse's eyes with stress or pain, am I guilty of anthropomorphising?

Well, researchers from Switzerland, UK and USA furrowed their brows over this question too. They induced four different emotional states common to domesticated horses: anticipation of food reward, petting, food competition and a waved plastic bag. They then analysed photographs taken of both eyes for the number of and extent of the wrinkles. They also noted how much white of the eye was shown.

They concluded, "….that emotional states may affect characteristics of eye wrinkle expression which might therefore be a promising indicator of horse welfare but further research is needed to validate the relevant outcome variables."

This research only looked at eye wrinkles as an indicator of the horse's emotional state rather than pain so I'd be really interested to find out if you've had any experiences of a horse with eye wrinkles and whether you found they had anything to do with either physical or mental stress.

And while we're talking wrinkles, if anyone can recommend a good eye cream then let me know!

Julie Moore

For further info on When I look into your eyes…. What eye wrinkles in horses tell us about their emotional state go to: http://www.equitationscience.com/documents/Conferences/2015/ISES_Conference_Proceedings_2015.pdf


MORE...      'LIKE' what you see and check out our HOME page!


Published in Trot On Blogs
Wednesday, 26 August 2015 08:23

6 Grounding SCARY moments


Falling off comes with the Horse riding territory.....Here are some of the SCARY MOMENTS we have witnessed...  (btw, to the best of our knowledge no lasting damage was done to either horse or rider)

At Burghley Horse Trials 2009.

YIKES! (but he didn't fall off) Burghley Horse Trials 2013.


The Cottesmore Leap - but not long enough, EEK! Burghley Horse Trials, 2012.


Point to Pointing!


At the last fence, in the lead too!


Ouch! Hickstead, 2012.




MORE...      'LIKE' what you see and check out our HOME page!


Published in Trot On Blogs
Tuesday, 25 August 2015 08:53

8 VERY Good reasons to LOVE Horses

What are the qualities we most admire in horses? Apart from the fact that The Queen likes them A LOT!


  1. They are Magnificent.

2. They are Daring.

3. They can be Scary.

4. Mostly Tolerant.

5. Caring and kind.

6. Sometimes Playful.

7. And they can even snore just like us!

8. Horses talk to your very soul.


MORE...      'LIKE' what you see and check out our HOME page!


Published in Trot On Blogs
Wednesday, 19 August 2015 10:47

Pony Pals....Pony visits helping the Elderly

It was suggested I might write a few words on Pony Pals and how it all got started so here goes!

I started the organisation 6 years ago when I bought my first Miniature Shetland who I named Super Noodles. We started visiting children's birthday parties until my Mother, who was The Manager of a nursing home, invited us to visit the residents. We met some of the residents in the garden, but there was a resident who had a particular love of horses, but she was rather poorly and confined to her bed on the top floor. So we took the brave decision that we would head inside and use the lift to allow us access to her bedside. Her reaction was heart warming, a small flicker across her face and her finger gently stroked his muzzle. We came back to visit her weekly for a short while until she sadly past away.

I decided to work on the idea of using my party pony as a therapy pony, and I set to work house training him, teaching him to move around equipment and furniture and to walk on different surfaces. I soon realised that I had a very special and very talented little pony. I approached other homes, hospices and community centres and spurred on by the beautiful smiles and wonderful reactions I decided to focus more on the therapy side. I sold my bigger riding pony and bought in a team of smaller ponies to make The Pony Pals Therapy Team, we even have a miniature donkey on the team now!

We are kept very busy now with regular visits to a range of homes, hospices and centres, creating lovely moments and listening to horsey memories of yesteryear. I love every story I hear and every smile that my beautiful ponies create. Every reaction is special, whether it is tears of joy and embracing the ponies in a heartfelt hug, or a very small flicker of a smile, I love them all.

I'm based in Haslemere, Surrey, UK. - Full detail on how to book me and my Pony Team is on my website http://www.ponypals.co.uk/default.html and our FB page https://www.facebook.com/ponypalstherapyteam


More like this Horse Therapy for Humans group

MORE... 'LIKE' what you see and check out our HOME page!

Published in Member Blogs
Tuesday, 18 August 2015 08:55

Orkney's Festival of the Horse

A very traditional horse inspired festival has just taken place in the Orkney islands in the north of the UK .

Its called the Festival of the Horse and celebrates the long association between the islanders and their horses. The young children get dressed as Shire horses and the older children are dressed as ploughers who take part in a competition as to who can plough the straightest furrow in the sand on the beach.

Its so GOOD to see these traditions continue - in the early 21st Century it is all too easy to forget just how important heavy horses  were to the whole agricultural effort . Here are a few photos of this charming festival...BIG thumbs UP to Orkney for keeping this tradition going!l




MORE... 'LIKE' what you see and check out our HOME page!

Published in Trot On Blogs
Page 2 of 3