EDITION 5 | OCTOBER 2021
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WELCOME Hello and welcome to our fifth edition of HQ Pony Magazine! It’s lovely to have you with us on our HQ Pony Magazine adventure. This month we’ve again got plenty of info for you and lots of cool stories to share. We’d really love to be featuring more of you guys and your ponies so please get in touch with us if you have a story or photos you’d like to share. Our email address is email@example.com, or you can message us via our Facebook or Instagram accounts. We want to hear from you! We hope you are all enjoying the warmer weather and getting plenty of pony time! Until next month – enjoy and happy horsing!
Lots of love, Lizzie and the HQ Team xxx
GET IN TOUCH We’d love to hear from you and receive your photos, drawings or pony-related thoughts. To get in touch send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you!
CONTENTS How Often Should I Work My Pony?
Did You Know?
Pony Conformation: Part 2
Horse and Pony Breeds: 5. The Fell Pony
Products We Love
EN T F O HOW WORK I D L U SHO ? Y N O MY P One of the most common questions asked by horse and pony riders worldwide is ‘how often should I ride?’ The problem with this question is that the answers a rider is likely to hear are never the same. The reason for this is that all ponies, horses and their riders are different. The other reasons centre around the fact that there are many variables to factor in when trying to design an exercise programme for your pony or horse.
THE VARIABLES Some of the variables that you need to consider when working out a suitable frequency for riding are as follows: 1. What age is your pony? Is he young, or is he old? 2. What level of training is your pony currently at? Are you jumping 1m20, or are you jumping 30cm? 3. What discipline do you want to take part in? Are you a dressage diva, a showjumping superstar or something else entirely? 4. What are your short and long term goals with your pony? 5. What is your pony’s temperament like? Is he hot or more laid back? Is he high-energy, or is he difficult to motivate? 6. What is your level of riding fitness, and how does it compare to that of your pony? Are you super fit from school sport, and he’s more ‘Netflix and chill’? Or are you both elite endurance athletes? 7. Under what conditions does your pony spend most of his day. Does he go to the paddock for most of the day? Or is he cooped up in his stable for many hours?
Here we look at each of these factors in turn. 1
AGE An older pony needs regular exercise to maintain peak fitness. Just like older people, it takes older ponies longer to build up muscle and stamina, and it also takes them longer to get going. Older ponies, therefore, generally need working five to six days a week with long warm-up and cool-down periods at the start and end of each session. Older ponies are also more likely to suffer from arthritis and the long warm-ups and cool-downs, in addition to the frequent work sessions, are important to give their joints a chance to move and avoid the build-up of stiffness. However, if your older pony is retired, it may be perfectly okay to exercise him once or twice a week by going for a gentle hack. The important thing to remember with older ponies is that you need to make any changes gradually. If your pony hacks twice a week, you cannot suddenly decide to do an intense lesson for an hour. Instead, you need to build him up to a level of fitness that allows him to do more frequent and intense work before you throw in a more challenging session. This takes time and patience but is the only way to increase or decrease work fairly for an older pony. With older ponies, you must also keep an eye on their condition and energy levels. If you notice that your older pony is run down physically or is losing weight, you need to speak to your vet first, but if they are happy that the issue is not health-related, then you must look at whether the amount of work you are doing is too much for your pony. It may be that you just need to increase his food to allow him to cope, or it may be that you need to cut back on the intensity of your sessions. Younger ponies, on the other hand, tend to have the opposite issues. They usually have boundless energy but much shorter attention spans. Very young ponies, who are just starting work, can lose the ability to focus after as little as 10 minutes. It is, therefore, often worth considering more frequent but shorter workouts for younger ponies. With all ponies, it is vital to keep their minds stimulated. Design a schedule with lots of different activities that you can perform in lots of different locations to keep them thinking and learning. 2
LEVEL OF TRAINING It is vital to consider your pony’s current level of training when planning your goals going forwards. If you are looking to ramp up the training level, from Novice to Elementary or 70cm to 1.00m, you need to do this gradually in a structured way to avoid over facing your pony.
If your pony is at a low level of training and you want to get to a higher level, realise that this will take time and that going from two sessions of work to six sessions of work a week is likely to make your pony unhappy, exhausted and sore. Pushing your pony in this way is also likely to lead to injury.
YOUR DISCIPLINE OF CHOICE The discipline in which you want to ride also affects the amount of work your pony needs. Most ponies at competition level in any discipline require five sessions of work a week, but the length and intensity of these sessions are dependent on the level at which you are competing. For instance, endurance and eventing riders are going to need longer sessions with their ponies to build the necessary fitness and stamina, whereas a pony involved in showing is less likely to need such a high level of cardiac fitness. Similarly, the content of the session will vary so a showing pony may need more exposure to spooky objects, some groundwork etc., whereas an eventing pony needs showjumping, dressage and fitness work.
YOUR GOALS It is worth considering your goals and whether they are realistic for you and your pony. Your goals must match the level of effort you are willing to put in. To simply maintain a pony’s fitness most riders suggest riding three times per week for somewhere between 20 and 60 minutes, each time, but this is unlikely to make your pony fit for competition. If you want to compete, you need to make sure you have enough time to fit in the required four to six sessions per week or have a work rider who can help you out.
TEMPERAMENT If you have a quiet, super chilled pony who you just want to go for the occasional hack on, then riding once or twice a week is usually enough. However, it would be unfair to ask this pony to go for a gallop on a hack if you were only working him once or twice. On the other hand, if you have a hot and spicey pony, the chances are that you will need to ride five times a week to keep him manageable under saddle. These hot ponies need an outlet for their energy and exercise and large amounts of paddock time are the best ways to help them release their energy safely, i.e. without sending you flying or injuring themselves.
RIDING FITNESS You must also consider how your fitness compares to that of your pony. Just because you are riding fit doesn’t mean your pony is. Getting a new pony and expecting him to work six times a week, like your old pony did – just because you are able to – is entirely unfair and likely to result in an injury for your pony. Instead, pay attention to the pony you are riding, and tailor your sessions accordingly.
Coogs My human:
Amy Blair Breed:
Showjumping Fav treat:
Cling peaches Claim to fame:
My human made me an Instagram account called @crazyredchestnut.... but I think she’s the crazy one, not me! How long have you had your pet human:
7 years Favourite thing to do:
Go on adventure outrides with my human and miniature friend, Baloo.
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Text | Skye Littlefield
Mounted Games are an equestrian sport requiring exceptional horsemanship and skill, where you’ll compete in a range of games, including agility, banga-balloon, and speed weavers.
History The Mounted Games were developed in the 1950s when Prince Philip had the idea for a show that people could enter even if they did not have expensive ponies. You can participate on a mount of 15hh or smaller, so the Games are perfect if you have a pony.
The Mounted Games today While the games were developed in England, they quickly became popular throughout the world, and there are currently 24 countries forming the International Mounted Games Association, including South Africa. If you’ve ever ridden in a gymkhana, then you’ve probably played a few mounted games. Every year a different member country hosts the World Team Championships of mounted games, where riders flock to participate from all over the world. The open winners were team France this year, while England, Ireland, and Wales have also had some fantastic wins. You can find and watch the World Team Championships on YouTube. 6
An example game One of the most exciting Mounted Games played is Sword. In this game you carry a sword in one hand while controlling your horse with the other. You need to pick up five rings from the top of five poles in a line, with your sword. The catch here is that you have to do this as quickly as possible and cross the finish line with your sword and rings in hand.
Get in touch Contact the Mounted Games Association of South Africa if you would like to get involved in this exciting equestrian sport.
We’ve all been told in a lesson by our instructor to ‘half-halt’ but do we really know what they are asking us to do? A half-halt is probably one of the most confusing aids to understand and learn to ride, so here we try to demystify it a bit. If used correctly, it can be a super powerful way of improving your pony’s way of going and your riding!
WHY DO WE DO HALF-HALTS? To ride well and have our ponies going in a way that makes riding easier for them and for us, they have to be balanced. When a pony leans on your hand, runs along or pulls up or down it is because they have lost their balance and are ‘running’ on the forehand. This means that most of the weight is now in their shoulders, and they are barreling forwards and unable to stop in more extreme instances. A half-halt is an aid that helps your pony to rebalance himself in these moments. The halfhalt helps to shift the pony’s weight out of his shoulders and back into his hind end so that he can carry himself better and move more freely yet with more control. A half-half is, therefore, super important for balancing your pony if he is starting to rush, preparing your pony for a change in gait or movement and keeping your pony concentrating on you. 8
Some situations in which a half-half can help: • Going into corners, as ponies easily lose their balance in the corners.
• Coming out of corners, to prepare them to be balanced on the next side.
• Before a transition (either upward or downward). Half-halts can be particularly useful going into the canter as they can encourage the pony to take weight behind and ‘jump’ neatly into the canter.
• Before doing a new movement in dressage. A half-halt, in
this case, helps, firstly, to let your pony know that you are about to give a new instruction and secondly, to get them nice and balanced so that they can execute the movement well.
• Coming into or going out of jumps to make sure your pony is balanced and not rushing.
• When riding downhill to keep your pony balanced. • When your pony isn't listening. In this instance, a half-halt can
remind your pony that you are still there and that you could give them a new instruction at any time. This can help to tune them into your aids.
TRAINING THE HALF-HALT FEELING IN THE HUMAN The trick to riding a successful half-halt begins with teaching your pony to understand the aids for it, as well as getting the timing right. However, it is difficult to do this if you, the rider, don’t know what you are looking for. A useful way of training the half-halt so that you can learn the feeling you are looking for and get your pony strong enough to half-halt is the following: • • •
Work in trot on a circle. Prepare to walk by slowing your rising. Just as your pony starts to feel like he could walk, gently ask him up into trot again.
This is the feeling of the half halt – when you get your pony to come back, and he rounds his back and steps under with his hind legs in order to be able to balance himself and then move off again in balance. • This is a difficult exercise, so if your pony struggles, ask him to slow the trot instead of bringing him to an almost walk before encouraging him to trot more forwards again. Over time he will get strong enough to be able to come to a very slow jog and then accelerate back up again. 9
THE AIDS All instructors teach the half-halt slightly differently, but here’s how we do it: • When your pony is moving forwards, and you feel that he becomes unbalanced or speedy, breathe in, close your hand on the outside rein and sit back a little while keeping your legs on. You then release with your hand and seat. The whole movement should only last for half a second. You do not want to hold or pull, or your pony will pull against you. • If it helps to have a picture in your mind when doing this, we think of the half-halt as tipping our pony’s weight out of the shoulders and into the hindquarters. We don’t think of it as slowing down but rather tipping the weight back to power up the hindquarters so they can keep the forward motion but with more balance. • If one half-halt is not enough to rebalance your pony, then do a couple in a row, making sure to release in between each one. If this doesn’t work bring him back to a halt and repeat the exercise again. ‘Bracing’ the outside rein and sitting back for a split second, whilst continuing to encourage the forward motion, has the effect of asking your pony to step more under from behind and engage his hind legs more. This keeps him in balance by removing some of the weight from the forehand and tipping it back onto the hindquarters.
TAKE-HOME MESSAGE A half-half is not an easy thing to understand but when used well can make a massive difference to the quality of your riding, and your pony’s movement. Spend some time getting familiar with the half-halt, and chat to your instructor about it. They will show you exactly how best to do it, to get the results you are looking for.
DID YOU KNOW Whilst most horses are measured in hands, miniature horses are only measured in centimetres or inches.
What are they, and why use them?
V-poles can be super helpful training tools if used correctly. They have a whole host of training benefits, including improving you and your pony’s: • Straightness and accuracy - V-poles also offer the perfect channel to guide your pony straight to the fence, which helps you to get a feel for how to ride the best approach to fences of all types and sizes.
• Bravery - V-poles can look a bit scary for ponies and riders who haven’t seen them before, so practising riding these fences can make both the pony and their rider a little bit braver.
• Technique - Simply setting up V-poles can encourage your pony to make a better shape with his body over the jump so that he lifts his back over the fence and tucks his legs in more neatly. Ultimately, training him to do this makes it more likely that you will jump clear in future.
How to use them Correctly introducing V-poles is very important to help you get the most out of them. Once you’ve warmed up over crosses and a small upright: • Put a pair of V-poles on a low upright, making sure the end of each pole touches the wings to give your pony lots of space between them. • Approach the fence in trot or canter – whichever you feel more confident in. Look up, widen your hands and squeeze his sides with your legs to keep him straight. • Sit tall, keep your lower leg secure and perhaps even hold the mane in case he is a bit nervous and makes a big leap. • After the jump, ride away positively and give him scratches as a reward for getting it right.
Once your pony feels confident over the fence, you can gradually pull the poles towards the centre of the fence until they are touching. Remember to keep the fence small until you both feel ready to jump bigger – there’s no rush to raise the height!
An introduction to conformation - Part 2 When we discuss a horse or pony’s conformation, we refer to his general make and shape and the relative proportions of the various parts of his body. When assessing conformation, we are mainly looking at the suitability of the body for the function it has to perform. This is not a beauty contest but instead an assessment of how well the horse or pony is built to do the job he is intended for! In our last issue we looked at balance as a function of conformation and in this article we examine proportion and symmetry.
Proportion Although no two horses are exactly alike, and ideal proportions may vary slightly from breed to breed, there are ways of checking that the proportions of the individual horse that you are looking at are more or less correct. The length of the head (line A) should be approximately equal to:
B - The length of the neck from the wing of the atlas to the shoulder muscle C - The length of the shoulder from the apex of the withers to the point of the shoulder D - The length of the body from the edge of the scapula to the last rib E - The depth of the girth F - From the croup to the patella G - From the stifle to the point of the hock H - From the point of the hock to the ground 14
Seen from behind the ideal proportions of the hindquarters should fit into a square. AC/BD - The height from the croup to the thighs is equal to: AB/CD - The width across the thighs EF - The height from hoof to hock should also measure the same as AC/AB
The length of the horse’s body (line A-B) should be the same as the height from the withers to the hoof (line C-D). In other words, the body of the horse should fit nicely into a square. This is a good way to check if your horse’s back is too long or too short.
A pony’s proportions are different from those of a horse; his legs are shorter in relation to his body. This means the length of the body (A-B) is greater than the height (C-E). The length of the legs (C-E) is roughly the same as the depth through the girth (D-C). 15
SYMMETRY A symmetrical object can be divided into two identical halves when cut down the middle. Few human beings, or horses, have a perfectly balanced body. We all have one side which is more dominant than the other. The muscles on our dominant side become more developed, as they are used more than those on the weaker side. Horses are usually able to bend more easily to one side than the other; a young unschooled horse will prefer to strike off with one particular leg leading at canter regardless of whether he is cantering left or right. This one-sidedness is normal, and although the rider will easily feel any stiffness in one rein, the resulting unequal muscle development may not be visible to an observer on the ground. The neck may be more developed on one side than the other, or maybe the horse has a slight bend through his body – but these issues are minor, and good riding can usually improve them. More serious asymmetries are more significant because they weaken the whole structure. If weight and stress cannot be distributed relatively equally throughout the body, damage will be done to those areas that have to carry more. Ideally, a horse’s body should look the same on both right and left sides. This should be checked by observing the horse: • • • •
From directly in front From directly behind From behind and slightly above From either side
Standing in front of the horse allows you to check that both shoulders are equally muscled, with no areas which are wasted away or underdeveloped. Both legs should look straight with the toes pointing forwards. From behind, you are checking for equal muscle development and that the pelvis bones are in alignment. The bones at the point of the croup should be level, as should both hips. The tail should hang vertically and not be carried over to one side. Both hindlegs should appear straight, with no excessive turning in or out at the hock. 16
When examining the horse from above, you are looking for equal development of the muscles on either side of the neck, back and pelvis; for any irregularities in the path of the spinal vertebrae; and for a straight line from the horse’s front to his back (hindquarters in alignment with the forehand).
From the side, you are looking for muscle development, although this is more difficult as there is no way of seeing both sides at the same time for comparison. There are many reasons for asymmetry in the horse’s body; bad riding, poor shoeing, ill-fitting tack, falls and injuries, and faulty conformation can cause unequal muscle development or even displacement of the skeleton. In many cases these irregularities will be improved if corrective measures are taken – but, if in doubt, a vet’s opinion should be sought.
AREAS OF ASYMMETRY • Muscle wastage on neck and shoulders • Kinks in the spine • Unlevel hips • Quarters not aligned with the forehand
• Tilting of the pelvis • Tail held to one side • Muscle wastage on quarters • Muscle wastage on the shoulders • Forelegs not straight • Toe turned inwards 17
5. The Fell Pony We will be continuing our pony breed series by moving to Northwest England, where a rare and old pony breed originated, the Fell Pony. Text | Christie Wolhuter
History The Fell Pony originated in the ‘fells’ of Northumberland, Cumberland and Cumbria. A fell (from the Old Norse word fjall, ‘mountain’) is a high and barren landscape feature, such as a mountain or moor-covered hill. The Norse people were thought to have arrived in Britain in about 925 AD and originate from Norway. The original Fell Pony is thought to have resembled the Exmoor pony, but the Romans are said to have brought Friesians into the country, which they proceeded to cross-breed with the native Fells. This changed the appearance of the Fell Pony dramatically. The Fell Pony still bears a remarkable resemblance to the Friesian. It is, in fact, thought that the Fell Pony inherited its ground covering trot from the Friesian influence.
Uses The Vikings used the Fell Ponies to plough the fields, as well as for hunting and pack work. Over the centuries, through this work, the breed came to be revered for their stamina and ability to carry heavy loads over long distances. They were ultimately considered vital in moving goods throughout the trade routes in Britain. As Great Britain developed, the ponies were needed to transport copper and iron from the North to the smelting works in Newcastle and would return with coal. They were even used in the mines as pit ponies, hauling coal from underground back up to the surface!
Up to today The pony in its pure form started to die out due to cross-breeding and war, but in the late 1950s, pleasure riding started to gain popularity again, and the breed thankfully saw a rise in popularity. The Fell pony is incredibly versatile and is used in a number of disciplines today. The breed’s lovely temperament makes it popular among Riding for the Disabled Programs (RDA), and children and adults alike enjoy this remarkable breed. The breed is known for being levelheaded and exceptionally talented, and sure-footed in tricky terrain.
Did you know? The Queen of England was spotted on one of her favourite Fell Ponies Farleton Fern, at the ripe old age of 94 – emphasising their safe nature! Fern was bred in Cumbria by Claire Simpson. Her Majesty is a patron of the Fell Pony Society, which aims to protect the breed.
What are they, and where do they come from? Text | Shelley Wolhuter, Founder of Libratum Equus
In simple words, stereotypies are stable vices. They are unwanted and often harmful behaviours that horses learn for various reasons. Common stereotypies include weaving, windsucking, crib-biting, head shaking and box-walking. Horses can learn them on their own, and it is thought that they can also learn them by copying another horse. The important point to note is that stereotypies do not exist in wild horses.
WEAVING Weaving is when a horse stands over a stable door and snakes their head and neck from side to side, shifting their weight to either foot as they weave. Weaving can cause repetitive stress on the bones of the legs and the joints, as it is not a natural movement for the horse.
WINDSUCKING Windsucking is when a horse either bites onto a door or a fence or presses their bottom lip against something and swallows air. Crib-biting can look similar but is different because the horse does not actually swallow air. These stereotypies can be quite harmful to the horse. Firstly, they can wear their teeth down very quickly, which affects their ability to graze and chew their food correctly. This can result in their food not being digested properly and eventually causing other health problems for the horse. And then, in some cases, the swallowing of air causes the horse to not want to finish their food. This, of course, can affect their whole body as they may not be able to get the nutrients their body needs to be healthy. Research has also suggested that horses who windsuck and crib-bite may have a higher incidence of ulcers and colics.
BOX-WALKING Box-walking is when a horse paces around in their stable, either from side to side or around in circles. Box-walking can be quite a severe stereotypy as it can cause a lot of damage to the horse’s body. This is due to the horse moving in such tight circles and often in only one direction. Eventually, their body may become ‘bent’ in that direction, almost like a banana. This would affect how the horse goes under saddle and may cause long term damage to the horse’s joints.
WHY DO THEY OCCUR? Sadly, stereotypies are usually a sign of severe stress or anxiety, or both, in a horse. Sometimes, they develop due to boredom, but this is less common. These behaviours are what we call ‘coping mechanisms’, which help make painful or stressful situations more bearable. They can also be seen as ‘self-soothing’ behaviours, where the horse tries to make himself feel better.
Some stereotypies are only seen in certain situations, such as feed time. However, the severe ones can be seen often throughout the day. The possible reasons for these horses’ high stress can be many things from long times spent stabled, to separation from friends, to discomfort etc. Paying close attention to when they happen can give a clue about why they’re there. If you are worried in any way about your horse’s behaviour or you feel that they have started to behave oddly, please consult your vet and possibly an equine behaviourist or instructor to get some advice on how to improve or, ideally, fix the situation.
IMPORTANT: The word ‘vice’ is hardly accurate or fair, as it suggests that the stereotypy is the horse’s fault, or that they are being naughty. However, this simply isn’t the case. Something in the horse’s life or routine is causing them stress, and the onus falls on the owner to address it. Stereotypies can be helped in some cases, but unfortunately, once they are learned, they are hard to get rid of, even if the cause has been resolved. The best thing one can do is nip them in the bud when they first appear.
Shelley Wolhuter – Libratum Equus | Balanced Horse www.libratumequus.com | @libratum_equus | Facebook: Libratum Equus
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU THINK YOUR PONY MIGHT BE ILL Text | Shelley Wolhuter
Sometimes you get a feeling in your gut that tells you something about your pony is off. There may be nothing obviously wrong, but your instincts whisper to look closer. Horses and ponies are excellent at hiding their pain or discomfort, for good reason. It is what keeps them alive in the presence of a predator. The weakest link is the softest target, so the last thing your pony wants to do is look weak or in pain! So, when your pony is feeling a little under the weather, it can be tricky to detect. This makes it difficult to decide when to call the vet. This is especially the case if you can’t see anything ‘obviously’ wrong but just have a feeling that something isn’t quite right. This article is a guide to help you in that moment of doubt to assess your pony so that you can give your vet all of the information before you call them.
Getting started - TPR The holy grail of health checks is called ‘TPR’. It stands for Temperature, Pulse and Respiration. It is a great place to start. It is important that you know your pony’s normal values for each of these items when they’re in good health so that you have something to compare to when they’re not looking so great.
Temperature Temperature may seem like an obvious one, but it is important to know what your pony’s normal temperature is on any given day. Individuals can be different and outside factors can also have an effect, such as the weather. A normal range of healthy temperatures for an average adult pony is between 37.2 and 38.3 degrees Celsius.
Pulse Pulse, or Heart Rate, is possibly the most difficult vital sign to check and may take some practice. Place two fingers in the groove between your pony’s bones at the chin, and then move your fingers up along the nearest side of the jawbone until you feel a soft cord. Press gently until you feel a pulse. Count for 30 seconds and multiply by two. A healthy adult pony’s average heart rate is between 28 – 40 Beats Per Minute (BPM), with the average being 36 Beats Per Minute.
Respiration The Respiration Rate is how many breaths your pony takes per minute. You can count the breaths by either placing your palm in front of the nostrils or watch the ribcage moving. Again, you don’t have to count for a full minute, but rather count for 30 seconds and multiply by two! A healthy adult pony’s respiration rate is between 6 – 16 (average of 12) Breaths Per Minute.
Mucous membranes A pony’s mucous membranes can be checked by looking at their gums and the pink flesh inside the inner corner of their eyelids. These membranes should be bright pink and moist. You can perform a Capillary Refill Time on the gums, which basically shows how quickly blood returns to that area. This is done by pressing your finger onto a flat part of the gums for two seconds, removing your finger and checking that the blood returns to the pressed spot within a second or two.
Hydration To look for signs of dehydration, you can gently pinch a little of some skin on your pony’s shoulder, pick it up slightly. Then release the skin and observe how it returns. If it immediately goes back to its original place, it suggests your pony is hydrated enough. However, if the skin stays up for a few seconds and slowly returns to the should der, it is a sign that your pony may be dehydrated.
NOTE: You can also touch your pony’s gums to assess hydration. If their gums are sticky and dry, then it is likely they are dehydrated.
Eating, drinking, pooping On a general note, it is always good to monitor that your pony is eating, drinking and pooping as per usual. Always take note of the quantity and frequency of these things to spot when something changes. Pay close attention to the colour and texture of your pony’s poop and urine, as these can give good clues as to how healthy things are on the inside.
Context It is very important to consider the possible outside factors that could affect your pony’s vital signs. Things like age, fitness, exercise, the weather, excitement, user error and size of the pony are all worth considering. The information gathered above is not to be used alone, but rather it should form part of a big picture. One should apply some common sense and context to the situation. Finally, if there is clearly something wrong with your pony, do not hesitate to call your vet! It is always better to be ‘safe, than sorry’.
Shelley Wolhuter Libratum Equus - Balanced Horse www.libratumequus.com @libratum_equus Fb Libratum Equus
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Can you spot the 10 differences below?
Q: : When warming up is it best to canter in light seat? A: Yes. Getting out of the saddle and off your pony’s back while warming up is really
beneficial for both you and y our pony. For y ou, i t helps t o get your core m uscles activated and firing and for your pony, it lets him use his back properly without your interference. A light seat can be particularly useful if you have a fresh or hot pony, as it allows him to use the freedom to move through his back to go forward, rather than bucking or pronking. Similarly, for a less motivated pony, it can help to make his job a bit easier in the warm up by making moving forwards easier for him.
Q: : How long should my stirrups be for jumping? A: It used to be said that when you jumped, you should put your stirrups up by two
holes from your normal riding length. However, if you watch top riders in action, you will see that people are increasingly riding with longer and longer stirrups. When asked about their stirrup length, these professional riders usually explain that they ride where they are most comfortable and can ride most effectively. When asked what they tell their pupils, most report that they feel the stirrups are the correct length for their students when they knock against their ankle bones when their feet are out of the stirrup. However, at the end of the day, it’s up to you! Nobody is going to mark you down for your stirrup length in jumping. You should just choose the length of stirrup that allows you and your pony to best clear the fences. Our advice, when it comes to stirrup length is: 1. Play around with your stirrup length to see what you feel comfortable with and what gives you the most confidence in the saddle. 2. Combine where you feel most comfortable with what allows your pony to best clear the fence. It is best to discuss this with your instructor, as it may be that you feel comfortable riding longer, but then don’t get out of the saddle enough over the fence.
NEXT ISSUE OF HQ PONY MAGAZINE AVAILABLE ON 1 NOVEMBER. SEE YOU THEN! 33
For those with a passion for ponies and all things equestrian - this magazine is for you!